Top 5 best — and worst — draft picks in Sixers history

Philly is picking 10th and 26th, along with four second-rounders, Thursday night.

Dave Uram
June 21, 2018 - 12:38 pm
Allen Iverson

Xinhua/Wang Ying/Sipa USA

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) —  The NBA Draft is Thursday, and this is one of the more exciting times of the year for Sixers fans. They’re picking 10th and 26th, along with four second-rounders. Former general manager Sam Hinkie would be proud.

Over recent years, the 76ers selected budding stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, along with to-be-determined Markelle Fultz, and busts Jahlil Okafor and Michael Carter-Williams. They’ve traded for guys like Nerlens Noel, who didn’t work out, and Dario Saric, who is a currently a key contributor for Brett Brown.

Prior to theses guys, the organization made picks that resulted in all time legends and others that flopped spectacularly.

Here are the top five best — and worst — Sixers draft picks. 

TOP FIVE BEST SIXERS DRAFT PICKS

No. 5 - Billy Cunningham, 1965, 5th Overall

"The Kangaroo Kid," Billy Cunningham, not only played nearly decade, spanning two stints, for the 76ers, which included four All-Star appearances, three All-NBA First Team recognitions, and being the sixth man on the 1967 championship squad, he later used that basketball experience to become a title winning head coach in Philadelphia. His No. 32 is hanging in the rafters at Wells Fargo Center. 

No one of higher regard was taken after "Billy C" in the 1965 draft. The North Carolina product averaged a double-double during his Sixers career. 

No. 4 - Maurice Cheeks, 1978, 36th Overall

Soon to be Hall of Famer Maurice Cheeks was the steal of the 1978 draft.

The Sixers picked the West Texas State point guard 36th, drafting a kid who would be their floor general for 11 seasons, featuring four All-Star appearances and four stints on the All-NBA Defensive First Team. "Mo Cheeks" No. 10 is atop the rafters in South Philadelphia. He was a key member of the 1983 championship squad and leads the franchise in assists and steals. 

No. 3 - Charles Barkley, 1984, 5th Overall 

"Sir" Charles Barkley was in a pretty impressive draft class. 

Barkley was taken fifth by the 76ers, two picks behind Michael Jordan and four back of Hakeem Olajuwon. 

The then out-of-shape Auburn product played eight seasons in Philadelphia, featuring six All-Star appearances, which included MVP honors in 1991, four First Team All-NBA honors (three times on the second team), 23.6 points a game and 11.6 rebounds a contest, more than good enough to get his No. 34 retired by the franchise. 

"Chuck" also exuded one of the best personalities in sports.

Drafting Barkley in 1984 made it easy to forget about taking Leon Wood that year at number 10, passing on John Stockton. 

No. 2 - Allen Iverson, 1996, 1st Overall 

The 6-foot guard from Georgetown was one of a kind.

Even though Pat Croce and company selected Allen Iverson number one, passing on local kid Kobe Bryant, "The Answer" didn't disappoint during his controversy-filled tenure in Philadelphia, turning into one of the game's legendary trendsetters and little men. 

Iverson didn't care that he featured a 165-pound frame. "The Little Guy" bulldozed his way into "the trees" taking hit after hit, and never complaining. 

He popularized the cross over and featured other silky-smooth moves that could be accelerated with his natural speed. 

Iverson was an MVP, Rookie of the Year, scoring champ and the catalyst that led the 76ers to the NBA Finals in 2001. 

One of the smallest stars in Sixers history was one of the few that could fill big arenas on a nightly basis. 

His Sixers career amassed 19,931 points, good for averaging 27.6 per game. 

Iverson's No. 3 appropriately looms large above the Wells Fargo Center floor. 

There was no one like him and there will never, ever be another that comes close. 

No. 1 - Hal Greer, 1958, 13th Overall 

Just because the late, great Hal Greer wasn't selected by the Sixers, instead their predecessors the Syracuse Nationals, doesn't disqualify him from this list.

Greer was taken in the second round, 13th overall, in 1958. He was instrumental in the 1967 NBA Championship, leading the team in points per game during 15 playoff games with 27.7. Greer was a tremendous scorer, leading the franchise in most points, games and minutes played. He was a 10-time All-Star, seven with the Sixers and three with the Nationals, including MVP in 1968. His No. 15 was the first to be retired by the Sixers. 

While Iverson was the favorite of many from the most recent generation, Greer was lighting up eyes years before. 

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TOP FIVE WORST SIXERS DRAFT PICKS

No. 5 - Jerry Stackhouse, 1995, 3rd Overall

If you’re wondering why Jerry Stackhouse is on this list, while Sharone Wright isn’t, it’s because Eddie Jones was the only notable player taken after Wright went sixth in 1994.

Stackhouse put up decent numbers with the Sixers, averaging 19.5 points a game in parts of three seasons. Trading him to Detroit also resulted in the arrival of Theo Ratliff and Aaron McKie.

But Stackhouse was supposed to be a big part of the future with Allen Iverson, and the 76ers passed up on future Hall of Fame power forward Kevin Garnett, as well as local kid Rasheed Wallace, to pick him. Is it because the team already sported power forward stiff Derrick Coleman?

No. 4 - Evan Turner, 2010, 2nd Overall

It was considered a huge steal when the Sixers luckily finished second in the 2010 NBA Draft Lottery. Many expected John Wall to be taken first by the Washington Wizards, which would leave National Player of The Year Evan Turner to fall to Ed Stefanski.

Little did we know, the Ohio State product couldn’t crack Doug Collins' starting lineup at the beginning of the season, and despite flashes of talent, Turner ultimately flamed out his welcome in Philadelphia and was eventually traded by Sam Hinkie in 2014.

Since leaving the Sixers, Turner has jumped around the league, while DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward and Paul George are All-Stars, three guys Stefanski passed on to pick “E.T.” 

In parts of four seasons in Philadelphia, Turner averaged 11.5 points per pane and started 170 on 279 games. Certainly not worthy of the number two overall pick.

No. 3 - Shawn Bradley, 1993, 2nd Overall

It’s never a good sign when a young basketball player takes two years off from the college game to conquer a church mission. 

Not that there’s anything wrong with Shawn Bradley’s religious beliefs, but you probably shouldn’t select him number two before Penny Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, Vin Baker and Allan Houston.

Bradley only averaged 9.7 points and 7.5 rebounds a game for the Sixers. He was eventually traded for Derrick Coleman. He wasn’t worth the coveted number two pick in the draft.

Hey, at least Bradley made “Space Jam.”

No. 2 - Larry Hughes, 8th Overall, 1998

One half of “The Flight Brothers” never took off in Philadelphia. Larry Brown picked Larry Hughes eighth in the 1998 draft ahead of superstars and future Hall of Famers Dirk Nowitzski and Paul Pierce.

Enough said.

No. 1 - Marvin Barnes, 1974, 2nd Overall

For those of you thinking "who?" imagine drafting a player second overall and never, ever, ever seeing that person in a 76ers uniform. 

For all of the "what if Joel Embiid never plays"​ people, that was the case for Marvin Barnes. Except, it wasn't because of injury. After the Sixers choice Providence's Marivn Barnes second in 1974, he elected to play for the Spirits of St. Louis in the ABA. 

Meantime, 1975 Rookie of the Year and future Hall of Famer Jamaal Wilkes was taken 11th. "The Iceman" George Gervin was picked 40th. 

No wonder the Sixers were cellar dwellers in the early '70s. 

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This article originally appears as "Top 5 best draft picks in Sixers history" and "Top 5 worst draft picks in Sixers history" on 94WIP-FM.