There were plenty of NBA teams with high stakes entering the draft lottery.

The New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers were among several franchises that decided early in the season to place all their aspirations into ping-pong balls.

More specifically, plotting to be a bad as possible to land a perceived franchise-changing player in Duke’s Zion Williamson.

Perhaps the NBA gods intervened to sway future taking, or to continue to punish the Knicks. The New Orleans Pelicans, who entered the lottery with a six percent chance of getting the first pick, ended up winning the Williamson sweepstakes.

Now, that brings us to the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite winning over 50 games and making the playoffs, there was a one percent chance the Sixers could swoop in a grab Williamson for themselves.

For that to happen, the first-round pick acquired from the Sacramento Kings back in the Sam Hinkie era would have needed to jump 13 spots.

The Kings finished the season with the 14th-worst record in the league.

Since the pick didn’t leapfrog to the top, it moved to the Boston Celtics as the final piece of the Markelle Fultz (disaster) trade.

The results of the lottery officially closed the door on the infamous 2017 trade with the Celtics.

Closing the Fultz deal

After the results of the 2017 lottery, the Sixers ended up with the third overall pick, while the Celtics got the first pick via the Brooklyn Nets.

Former general manager Bryan Colangelo ended up trading the third pick, along with the 2019 unprotected Kings pick acquired by Sam Hinkie, to move up to the first spot in the 2017 draft.

He targeted Washington guard Markelle Fultz, who was the top choice among many “experts” entering the draft.

At the time, Fultz was perceived to be a good fit with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Head coach Brett Brown saw Simmons as a point guard despite playing the four at LSU. Fultz could pair with him thanks to his ability to stretch the floor.

In his only year at Washington, he shot over 41 percent from three on five attempts per game.

The piece that never fit

At the time it appeared the Sixers had competed the process. They had their core and were ready to have a decade of Embiid, Simmons and Fultz together.

It never happened since Fultz never became the player he was in college. His injury is one of the most confusing cases in all of sports and still has not been fully disclosed to the public.

The relationship between Fultz and the Sixers deteriorated over how to handle his rehab. The dissension lead to his trade at the 2019 trade deadline to the Orlando Magic.

Meanwhile, the Celtics took Duke’s Jayson Tatum with the third pick and collected an additional first-round pick down the line.

Two years later that future asset turned into the 14th pick in the 2019 draft.

Now that the trade is complete and Fultz is no longer on the team, hopefully the Sixers can move on from one of the worst trades in franchise history.

At least the team has had moderate success the past two seasons to soften the blow of the deal.

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