Things are looking good as a Timberwolves fan. Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns have reinvigorated the franchise. Right now they're 7-8 after going 16-66 last year. Contrast that with the Philadelphia 76ers. At the moment they're 0-16. Last year they started off 0-17 en route to a 18-64 season. It's all because of GM Sam Presti's radical strategy of bottoming out for a high pick to potentially get a franchise player. It's a good strategy in theory, the more top picks you have the more likely you are to get a great player, but history says it just doesn't work.
The draft started in 1950, and since then the worst five teams were the '12 Bobcats, '73 Sixers, '93 Mavericks, '98 Nuggets and '87 Clippers. The Bobcats ended up with the number two overall pick and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They've made the playoffs once since then as an eight seed in 2014 when they were swept by the Heat. The Sixers were rewarded for they're abysmal season in '73 with Doug Collins. 'Nuff said. They went on to make the playoffs four years later but mainly because they acquired Julius Erving. After the Mavericks went 11-71 in 1998 they didn't end up with Chris Webber, who went number one that year, but Jamal Mashburn. They would make the playoffs eight years later The Nuggets chose Raef LaFrentz, the Clippers took Reggie Williams. I could go on and on. My point is just being terrible doesn't work.
Need some more evidence? The top ten leaders in the NBA's average draft position is eighth overall. Yeah, it includes a few number one picks, most were outside the top five.
Obviously the ultimately goal for any franchise in any sport is to win a championship. If the Sixers are planning on doing that it will have been in a pretty uncommon way. Last year's champs, the Warriors best player was the seventh pick in his draft. (exactly one pick after Jonny Flynn. Damn you David Kahn) They took their second best player 11th. They took their third best player 35th. The finals MVP was an offseason acquisition. Before the Warriors the Spurs were champions. They had the first pick in 1997 when they took Tim Duncan and haven't picked in the lottery since then. Before that the Heat rode LeBron, Wade and Bosh to two straight Championships. Going back to 2011, the Mavericks beat the Heat. The Mavs hadn't drafted in the lottery in ten years. The two years before that the Lakers won with Kobe Bryant, who had been there since 1996 and Pau Gasol, who they had gotten in a lopsided trade with Memphis. If you want to go farther back than that, the Celtics won in 2008 after trading for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
In one paragraph I just went back to 2008, using a few minutes of sloppy research and a bunch of thoughts of the top of my head to point out how every champion was formed. They all had one thing in common: they were built on more than just drafting. So Sam Presti can keep dealing away every tangible asset for more picks, but the Sixers could have the most desolate future of anyone in the league.
Oh yeah, I forgot about you Brooklyn Nets.