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76ers Reportedly Considered Drafting Marcus Smart Over Joel Embiid in 2014

The days of Sam Hinkie running the Philadelphia 76ers' front office are far behind us. Still, to this day, the stories from the infamous 'Process' days in Philly never seem to get stale, though. That's just how interesting the 76ers were despite being one of the NBA's worst teams during Hinkie's stint in the Sixers' front office.

At this point, the topic of whether the process worked or not is debatable. However, it's hard to deny that Hinkie didn't leave a positive lasting impact with the 76ers as he's the guy that drafted the team's franchise superstar, Joel Embiid. Injury issues aside, Embiid's value to the 76ers is undeniable. He's a three-time All-Star and recognized as one of the best and most dominant bigs in the game on both sides of the floor.

Sam Hinkie and the 76ers were fortunate to have Embiid fall in their lap to No. 3 overall during the 2014 NBA Draft due to injury concerns. That year, the Cleveland Cavaliers possessed the No. 1 overall pick, while Milwaukee was in front of the Sixers at No. 2. 

After a miraculous predraft workout with Cleveland, it seemed Embiid was inevitably going to become the first-overall pick that year. For the 76ers, they would've been content with that happening considering they were hoping for Embiid's college teammate, Andrew Wiggins, to fall to No. 3. 

Fortunately for Philly, it never happened. Cleveland wanted a player that could contribute right away in 2014. The idea of having the top pick of the draft miss his entire rookie season due to a fractured foot scared the Cavaliers off from Embiid. So Cleveland ended up using the selection on Wiggins instead.

With Wiggins off the board in Cleveland and Jabari Parker off to Milwaukee, the 76ers were left with a tough decision to make. Would they follow Cleveland's lead and skip on Embiid for a player who could contribute right away? Or invest a high-end pick and hope they end up with the best player in the draft by spending the third-highest pick?

By now, we know the Sixers gambled on Embiid. Apparently, though, the decision to do so wasn't as easy as it seemed. During the draft, the Sixers "strongly considered" Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart with the third pick, according to The Inquirer's Keith Pompey. 

After electing to take the injured Embiid instead, Marcus Smart ended up sliding to the Celtics at No. 6. While Smart has been a solid contributor for Boston over the last six seasons, it's apparent the 76ers made the right choice by selecting Embiid. Had they've gone with Smart instead, then the Sixers' 2014 draft would've been nothing short of failure as we look back at it. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him n Twitter: @JGrasso_