The mantra here has been very clear, which is to compete for championships. History, for the most part, especially recently, especially in the current environment, with the current rules and the current collective bargaining agreement, history has been reasonably clear that superstar players matter." -- Sam Hinkie

Andrew Wiggins loomed over the Philadelphia 76ers’ broken season like a ghost.

Through the astonishing 3-0 start, the deadline fire sale, the 26 straight losses, the Michael Carter-Williams experience -- through it all, from a thousand miles away, the Kansas wing was the most electric presence in the Wells Fargo Center. He filled every room he wasn’t in, the way an unborn child permeates and rearranges its parents’ lives long before its arrival. The city was expecting.

As the fan base understood it, Wiggins was the promise implicit in the draft-night trade, a year ago this week, of point guard Jrue Holiday. In return for the All-Star, the team received a center who hasn’t yet played and what became the No. 10 overall selection in Thursday’s draft. For a marginal talent, this was a tremendous haul. But it wasn’t the point of the deal. Not the entirety of it, anyway. Through this deliberate, self-inflicted wound, the Sixers also stumbled, tripped themselves really, into the inside track in the race for the generational talent, franchise savior and prize of the 2014 class -- or so Wiggins was billed at the time. It was about getting a superstar.

Philadelphia fell for the Canadian the instant it grasped it would be awful enough to actually land him. It was love at first blight. The whole miserable season that followed was bearable, in this way. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. The losing, the losses, were purposeful. The purpose was Wiggins.

During the pre-draft process, the momentum behind a Wiggins/Philadelphia pairing swelled. It took on a feel of inevitability. Joel Embiid was widely mocked to the Cavs at No. 1, and given the Bucks’ infatuation with Jabari Parker, a consensus gradually formed that Wiggins would fall to the Sixers at No. 3, where the organization would have happily snapped him up. The forward’s camp even signaled a preference for Philly. Among the three cities at the top of the draft, his advisors determined it was the locale where he was most likely to thrive. The feeling was mutual.