Holmes, who was selected in the second round by Philadelphia, will be playing a for a team that has been near the bottom of the league for the past few years. The result of that has been that the 76ers have been picking near the top of the draft and collecting assets upon assets. What the end game is - it could be hoping all the pieces grow at once or that they'll trade for a star or a mix of the two - isn't quite clear yet.
The cloud became a little murkier Thursday night, as the 76ers took Duke center Jahlil Okafor with the No. 3 overall pick despite already having Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid on the roster and also having the rights to Dario Saric, a talented power forward who won't come stateside for at least another year. That's four players Holmes will potentially have to compete for playing time against and with every other play. That doesn't mention the two other bigs the 76ers took in the draft or forward Furkan Aldemir, who was a rookie last season.
The upside for Holmes is that the 76ers are bad enough where he might get to play as a rookie. Had he been drafted by other teams who picked around when the 76ers, he would have went into situations where the front court is already crowded and locked in with multi-year deals and playoff hopes. With the 76ers, Embiid is reportedly still dealing with lingering injury issues and, again, Saric is at least a year away from coming to the NBA. This might open up a opportunity for him to play right away if he has a good summer league performance and does well in training camp.
If a window doesn't open up for him to play in Philadelphia, it may be best for Holmes to go the D-League and play for the Delaware 87ers, the 76ers' D-League affiliate. While he was excellent in the MAC, Holmes is still a raw player who needs time to round out and polish his game. With the 87ers, he can play every night and work on his skills. In either case, Holmes can make mistakes and learn by playing instead of watching. That is, without question, the most important criteria when judging how Holmes fits on a team.
Philadelphia also might be a good situation for Holmes because of how they play. Right, the 76ers play fast - they were sixth in the league in pace last year - but aren't good on offense, as they were last in the league in points per 100 possessions last year. Holmes' biggest weaknesses are on offense and there won't be pressure for him here to be a useful player on offense. It will take time, but might get the chance he needs here to work on his jumper, work on some basic post moves and expand his skill set beyond shot blocking.
Even if he does improve offensive, shot blocking also might get him noticed. He won't ever be a starter on this team - at least as it's assembled - but he could fit really nicely next to Noel and Okafor as a third big. Okafor's defensive struggles are well chronicled at this point, but are easier to hide when he can play with some semblance of rim protection. Holmes isn't in Noel's league with rim protection, but it does project to be his best NBA skill. If the 76ers do keep Okafor and build with him, that theoretically only benefits Holmes.
Everything considered, there were definitely better places for Holmes to end up than Philadelphia. But while it's not clear exactly what the roster is going to look like even a month from now, the 76ers ultimately could be a good fit for Holmes. It's just going to take time and trust in the process.