Just how important is NBA draft lottery for Sixers this year?

The goal should be to win games in May and June.

The goal should never be to win the lottery.

For the fourth straight season, the 76ers are at the mercy of bouncing pingpong balls. While the NBA’s elite — the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, etc. — are competing at the highest level in the playoffs, the Sixers are sitting back and waiting for the annual lottery on May 16.

This particular one will be especially crucial to the future of the organization. As the Sixers get set to enter year No. 5 of the coach Brett Brown era, it’s time to get real players on the floor and legitimately compete for a playoff spot. After 75 victories in four seasons, there finally appears to be a plan in place.

When the pingpong ball machine starts bouncing on national television, the Sixers will be hoping for the best scenario. And there are plenty of them.

By virtue of their 28-54 record, the fourth-worst in the league, the Sixers have been awarded 119 chances out of 1,000 to pick up the No. 1 overall pick.

In addition, the Sixers could grab the Sacramento Kings’ pick thanks to former general manager Sam Hinkie.

Oh, and have we mentioned that the Sixers could also garner the Los Angeles Lakers’ pick if it falls out of the top three? The pick is unprotected in 2018 if it doesn’t move this year.

The Sixers have a terrific chance of getting two top picks in the draft: final odds of earning two picks in the top four (8.7 percent); two in the top five (39.6 percent); two in the top six (52.3 percent); and two in the top seven (53.1 percent).

With four second-round selections as well, options abound for the Sixers.

“We’ve got a lot of needs,” Sixers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo said at his end-of-season review news conference. “We’re far from being a complete team right now. We’ve got to figure out exactly what we have in the draft. We have some uncertainty with respect to whether or not we’re going to get the Lakers pick and whether or not there’s going to be a chance for us to move up. May 16 will be a date that really clarifies a lot for us in terms of the draft lottery.”

The Sixers’ roster won’t be complete following the lottery, but it will surely provide Colangelo with some much-needed direction. They need outside shooters and a point guard. They need Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to start the season healthy and end the season the same way — on the court.

Hinkie set the franchise up for this lottery. Following this, the goal should be to reach the playoffs. The lottery is intriguing and exciting yet it’s also for the bottom feeders.

It’s time to escape the pingpong balls and start winning.

Which makes May 16 one of the most important days in recent memory for the Sixers.

“The chemistry between the front office and the coaching staff, we are one,” Colangelo said. “We are also doing the same thing between basketball operations and business operations. It’s critical that that is a major part of a successful basketball organization in the NBA. But again, there’s trust among every level of the organization.”

That being said, the fan base must see results from the lottery and draft develop into results on the court.

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