The 2020 NBA draft is imminent and it's needless to say that draft projections have been done to death by now.
Rest assured, that's not why we're here. Instead, we're going to look at some of the best picks in 76ers history.
5. Billy Cunningham
When the 1965 draft came about, Cunningham had exceptionally high stock having just written his name into the college history books at North Carolina.
The 76ers were lucky enough to take him at number five in the draft. He set his standards high in his inaugural year as he made the All-Rookie first team.
Things continued on an upward trajectory for Cunningham. As the Sixers won the Championship in 1967, he played more games than any other player in the league. He did move on from Philadelphia for a short while but not before receiving four All-Star team calls.
After two years in Carolina he returned to the 76ers where he played until injury forced him to retire. He did, however, guide the team to glory 1983 as head coach.
4. Hal Greer
Greer joined the Sixers - or then the Syracuse Nationals - set up back in 1958 as the 13th overall pick. He would stay with the franchise throughout his career and he proved a picture of consistency. After a couple of years bedding into the NBA, Greer began to establish himself as a key part of the team.
He produced a 10-year stint between 1960/61 and 1970 where his season low points per game average was an impressive 19.6 whilst his rebounds peaked at 7.4 and assists reached 5.1. In that window, he made the All-Star game every season and was even named the All-Star MVP in 1968. Of course, his crowning moment was the season prior when he bossed the playoffs with 27.7 points per game on route to winning the NBA Championship.
3. Charles Barkley
Barkley entered the 1985 draft with little doubt over his ability but big question marks about how his stature would stand up at the elite level. It turned out that he'd handle the NBA just fine.
His rookie year saw him win first team honours whilst within two years he was leading the league on rebounds (14.6 per game) and getting the nod for his first All-Stat honour. It was the first of 11 with six of them coming in Philadelphia.
Although Barkley moved on from the Sixers in 1992, where he won the MVP award with the Phoenix Suns, his career PB stats all came in his years in Philly. When his number 34 jersey was retired there were no questions that it was deserved.
2. Maurice Cheeks
Is Cheeks the second-best Sixers player to come directly from a draft? No. What he is though is a player that represents terrific value given he was taken at number 36.
He was heavily involved in things from the off and made 82 appearances in his rookie year. Cheeks remained a consistent figure in the offense and was part of the team that conquered the NBA in 1983. It was that year that he earned the first of four All-Star nods.
All in all, Cheeks spent 11 years in Philadelphia with his creative numbers not dropping below the 5.3 assists and 8.4 points average of his debut season. His best year for the Sixers was 1985/86 as he hit 15.4 points and a career high 9.2 assists per game to take the team to the playoffs.
It was tough to see him eventually move on, but he never found anywhere else that felt like home and returned as head coach in 2005 but things didn't work out. He was, however, rightly inducted to the hall of fame in 2018.
1. Allan Iverson
If Cheeks was a dark horse selection, then Iverson was anything with the NBA betting odds firmly backing him as number one pick in 1996. The Georgetown point guard arrived surrounded by all sorts of hype. That brings a different type of pressure. Iverson thrived on it.
He was named rookie of the year in 1997 before upping his game as the Millennium approached with his 26.8 points per game a league high in 1998/99. Remarkably, he was overlooked for the All-Star team that season.
You couldn't keep Iverson down though and he earned his first call in 2000 and remained there for 11 consecutive seasons. Iverson stayed with Philly for 11 years prior to stints in Denver, Detroit and Memphis before a Sixers homecoming in 2009.
Across his career, Iverson led the league in points on four occasions and in steals three times, which is evidence of what an exceptional all-around game he had. All of those best years came with the Sixers.
There you have it, the best draft picks in Sixers history. Predicting how the NBA 2021 season will turn out for the 76ers is as hard as predicting who are the contenders for TwinSpires.com Kentucky Derby. Both are still far ahead and there is an intense race in foresight.
However, we can expect the Philadelphia team to not have the best chances in the draft this Wednesday as they are placed in 49th in the draft order. Let’s wait and see.
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