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The Diminishing Returns on 2nd-Round Picks

Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Ever since Sam Hinkie took over as Sixers general manager in 2013, the joke has been that all you need to do to attract his attention is dangle a second-round pick out in front of him. In addition to the host of picks the team has already made since Hinkie took over the role, the Sixers still have 13 second-round picks available over the next six years.

Realizing the value of maintaining those picks, Hinkie was also at the forefront of trading the same pick multiple times using banded protections (only losing it to one team if it’s lower than 55, another team if it’s between 50-55, etc.). With the team in full rebuild mode, Hinkie’s strategy of collecting as many assets both now and in the future made perfect sense.

Certainly, there are plenty of occasions where these second-round picks can be extremely valuable. Just ask the Warriors if the Draymond Green pick in 2012 paid off for them, or if the Clippers are glad to still have DeAndre Jordan around. While the Sixers haven’t hit on a pick at anywhere near that level with one of their recent selections, Jerami Grant has shown potential as a rotation player, and rookie Richaun Holmes looks promising after a solid Summer League in Utah.

Aside from just making selections in the hopes that the players become immediate contributors, those second-rounders can be used in a variety of other ways. The Sixers have used international stashes on players such as point guard Vasilije Micic in hopes of finding the next Manu Ginobili. Also, the team just used a couple late picks as placeholders, along with their abundance of cap space, to pull off the recent hijacking of the Kings. The point is, it’s never a bad thing to have an extra second-round pick at the team’s disposal.

However, despite all the associated advantages, it now appears as though the Sixers have reached a saturation point with these picks. With just 15 roster spots available, there’s only so much room for incoming guys each season, especially with the Sixers having as many as four first-round picks in the 2016 draft. Management is well aware of this fact, kicking the can down the road by trading the 35th overall pick in last draft, Guillermo Hernangomez, to the Knicks for two future second-rounders.

Also, past selections are finding things crowded as they look to break into the league. Former second-rounder Jordan McRae just signed his one-year tender with the Sixers rather than spend another year playing in Australia or another overseas location. If he doesn’t make the team, the Sixers will lose his rights. The McRae signing put the training camp roster at a full 20 players, and the team waived Gerald Wallace and swallowed the dead weight of another huge contract in order to bring undrafted point guard T.J. McConnell to camp. Another past second-rounder in Arsalan Kazemi also received a tender offer, but he’s not on the training camp roster.

Sam Hinkie’s collection strategy made a lot of sense a couple years ago when he first took the reins. Now, it’s time for the team to pivot away from that philosophy given the glut of fringe NBA talent the team has already acquired. As it turns out, the more second-round picks a team has, the less each one is worth: it’s the law of second-round diminishing returns.

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