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Let me start by saying in the last four years of drafts, the Boston-versus-Philadelphia contest comes out somewhat even.

The difference comes from the fact that in each and every case, Boston drafted lower that Philly. In 2014 the 76'ers took Joel Embiid at #3, while Boston grabbed Marcus Smart at #6. Philly gets the nod on that one - with reservations.

The 2015 draft saw Jahlil Okafor taken third by Philadelphia, and the Celtics wisely chose Terry Rozier 13 spots later at #16. A definite win for Boston, particularly since even many Boston fans didn't like the choice.

Ben Simmons taken first overall in 2016 and Jaylen Brown going at #3 seemed to make Philly the winner in the regular season, but the playoffs have lessened that lead. Slight nod to Philly on that one - more reservations.

It is still early for both rookies taken in the 2017 NBA draft, but Boston wins this one hands-down after moving from first to third place and taking Jayson Tatum after the 76'ers had chosen Markelle Fultz first overall. So Philly had choices #3, #3, #1 and #1 in consecutive years, while Boston had #6, #16, #3 and #3. Boston did as well as Philadelphia picking, at an average, at #7 and the 76'ers picking, at an average, at #2, the difference between mid-lottery and high-lottery.

A quick look at the two organizations. With the exception of Rozier, the talent accumulated by Boston via the draft in the past four years came about because of Danny Ainge's brilliant trade with the Nets. Ainge was also able to sign both Al Horford and Gordon Hayward as free agents, and Kyrie Irving was acquired via a trade with Cleveland. The 76'ers acquired Dario Saric, Robert Covington and J. J. Redick as free agents. Philly acquired their drafted talent via in-your-face tanking. No question about the winner here. Bean-Town hands down.


This is early in the process - I mean game - and the eventual winner of the newly-rejuvenated rivalry is yet to be determined. Next year should see Hayward, Irving, Horford, Tatum, Smart, Brown and Rozier pitted against Embiid, Simmons, Fultz, Dario Saric, Robert Covington and J. J. Redick.

Horford, Hayward and Irving have proven themselves over many seasons and are All-Stars. Smart, Rozier and Brown are in their fourth, third and second seasons, respectively. Tatum is a high-minutes rookie that has never played like one.

Here are my reservations on Simmons and Embiid. Simmons was labeled by some as having attitude and character issues prior to the draft and missed his first season with a foot injury. Embiid missed his first season with a foot injury and only played 31 games last season. Both are very talented but I am always suspicious of big men with foot issues in the NBA. Fultz is also very talented but has not proven himself at this level. He sits while Tatum produces. Danny Ainge never punts. Philadelphia did - repeatedly. Boston had some bad luck with injuries this season and still hold a 3-to-1 series lead over the 76'ers. That may help indicate the eventual long-term winner.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports

Tom Lane 5/08/2018 12:58:00 PM Edit
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