There's just no denying what the Villanova Wildcats mean to the City of Philadelphia. Two national titles in the last three years is something that doesn't come everyday and Nova's success has been contagious to many ever since.
The Sixers have a task with this year's NBA Draft to make the right selection at No. 10, drafting for need now, not necessarily for the Best Player Available.
The Sixers would need a lot of pieces to fall in their direction with players coming off the board at the right rate in order for Mikal Bridges, the Villanova small forward, to fall into their laps with the 10th overall draft pick.
Some experts have Bridges going two picks earlier to the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 8, but others have the Sixers grabbing him at 10.
Bridges becoming a member of the Sixers would be a dream come true for many, but his size and athleticism have already shown that he's more than capable of filling in a starting role for the Sixers moving forward. While I am growing a little more skeptical of Bridges draft position, as there seems to be a little bit more of a demand earlier in the first round for the 20-year-old, if he is there at No. 10 and the Sixers do indeed intend on keeping the pick and not trading it, Bridges is the guy for me.
The Sixers depth at small forward isn't exactly phenomenal, and the verdict is still out on whether LeBron James will be taking his talents to Philly this summer. Robert Covington also solidified himself in the defensive department of the league with his 1st team NBA All-Defense selection on Wednesday.
Bridges would offer the Sixers more stable shooting that is more reliable than Covington's occasional struggles, and defense that might not be as elite as Ro-Co's is right this minute, but has the potential to improve.
With the No. 26 pick, the Sixers options are a little more blurry. No. 10 is tricky enough, but the Sixers don't really have many connections to players they are interested that late in the draft, the second round included.
I, like many of my colleagues covering the Sixers, am under the impression that this draft won't be much different from drafts in year's past.
That being said, the chance of the Sixers drafting a player to play on the roster next season is extremely slim, unless find someone to take Jerryd Bayless off their hands and don't bring back one of the veterans that were on one-year deals last year.
International players have been a part of the Sixers' drafting plan for quite some time, many of whom we never or may never see play a single minute at the Wells Fargo Center. Getting a draft-and-stash player at No. 26 doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility for the Sixers this season.
But if the Sixers did find other ways to be flexible with their roster spots, it would be pretty intriguing to see them take a look at Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo, who brought a lot of attention on himself after his outbreak performance in the National Championship Game this year, taking home Final Four MVP honors.
DiVincenzo had himself one hell of a draft combine last week, really seizing the opportunity of turning some heads with hopes of improving his draft stock even more.
After being a projected second-round pick, DiVincenzo skyrocketed up into possible first round status when he set a combine high vertical of 42-inches, also performing well in the lane agility drill (10.72 seconds) and three-quarters sprint (3.11 seconds). Because of his drills and great scrimmage showing in Chicago last week, DiVincenzo is finding himself as high as 20th in a major mock draft (Sports Illustrated) and as low as 37th (The Ringer). Hoops Hype's Aggregate Mock Draft, a compilation of five major mock drafts averaged together, has DiVincenzo being selected with the 27th overall pick, just one pick later than the Sixers have.
If that's the case, the Sixers shouldn't have many problems with DiVincenzo being absent from the board when it gets to them at No. 26.
Also, don't forget that DiVincenzo did not hire an agent when he entered the draft, which means he still has the opportunity to back out and return for his final season with Jay Wright next year. I do believe that his combine was impressive enough to stay in the field and not have to worry about dropping out of the first round. At this point, I can't see DiVincenzo pulling out of the draft, solely focusing on how teams are looking at him right this moment.
Of course, there are other options that the Sixers could venture with at No. 26 besides DiVincenzo, but let's face it, could it get much better than a Mikal Bridges-Donte DiVincenzo Sixers draft combination? Honestly, probably not.
Remarkably, the Wildcats have a real possibility of having four of their players get picked up in the first round of June's NBA Draft. Omari Spellman and National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson also have significant shots of hearing their names called by commissioner Adam Silver.
There are so many instances over the years when stars from Philadelphia colleges were dreamt over of getting their names called to play for the Sixers, whether it be Kyle Lowry, Randy Foye, Jameer Nelson, Darrun Hilliard, or Ryan Arcidiacono. Unfortunately, those dreams never came to fruition.
Getting beloved Mikal Bridges to come play for the up-and-coming Sixers may be one of the best feel-good stories if it were to happen. Add fellow Wildcat Donte DiVincenzo just 16 picks later and you get a result that is almost unprecedented.
Two National Champions from nearby Villanova get drafted in the same round by the nearby Philadelphia 76ers. Not only does it have one beautiful ring to it, but it just makes sense both positionally and nostalgically.