(Editor’s Note: I’m posting this after the season opening win over the Heat. I had cell phone issues and was without a phone for three whole days! So yeah, I had other concerns and I didn’t get to finish this on time, but trust me, as fun as that win was, I’m not changing any of my original thoughts.)
The 2013-14 76ers season ended this past June when they traded all-star point guard Jrue Holiday for a 2014 first round pick and Nerlens Noel from the Pelicans.
There’s zero optimism for the season, no should there be honestly.
The team has a skeleton roster, will probably be lucky to win 15 games, will finish dead last or second to last in the NBA in record and gate revenue. Seriously look at this current roster. There’s about six legit NBA players on there.
Oh, and last but not least, Vegas released its odds for all 30 teams to win the title. The Sixers? 9,999-1 and the over/under on wins is 16.5. .
Yet… I’m really excited for this season.
Why? Because it’s just the first(and very painful process) of a rebuilding plan. (And also, because I can go some fun games, such as this Monday against the Warriors for just $13 in the lower level!)
I highlighted the word plan, because quite simply, I’m not sure what the plan is of the other three Philly sports teams. Ok, I guess the Eagles are somewhat competent, but it’s still hard to figure out what that plan is with the current talent they have.
The Sixers have made it blatantly clear that they intend to lose as many games as possible. The 2014 draft class is loaded, and the Sixers have positioned themselves properly to get two quality players.
Side note: I fully expect them to lose the lottery to a team like Phoenix or Orlando only because this is Philadelphia. But say they come away with stud prospects at the No. 2 and possibly No.10 picks in this draft. That could be a huge coup for this lifeless franchise.
So without much further ado, here are some things I’m looking for when following this team and it nosedives towards the bottom of the league.
1. Evan Turner Being the Main Offensive Threat
It’s the ultimate put up or shut up year for Turner. Yes the talent around him is bad, but he’s the main guy now. I really want Turner to finally be what we(the fans) expected when the Sixers took him No.2 overall in 2010. If he blossoms this year into really good 20-10 type of player, he’ll benefit the Sixers as a good offensive guard to lead this young nucleaus, or he can serve as a valuable trade chip.
Turner has been frustrating mainly because he’s not a consistent jump-shooter(although he improved his three point shooting last season).
But Jrue Holiday became an all-star in his fourth season and maybe the same will happen for Turner.
2. Brett Brown’s Patience
I gotta respect this guy for taking this job. I mean, he just left the Spurs for a team heading for a 60-loss season.
I haven’t had a chance to follow much of the preason action, so I don’t know much about his coaching style and how he wants to play, so I’m excited to find out. I’d imagine it’s good, he just spent the last ten-plus years working under Greg Popovich,
But basically, will all the losing wear him down and cause him to snap in one year and say “screw this, I’m going to wait for another head coaching job?” I seriously doubt he quits on the job, but in a season where there is going to be so much struggle, just how long can he keep his sanity.
Talk about getting thrown into the fire. Most rookies usually get limited minutes (unless they’re a stud top-15 draft pick) and a short leash. Michael Carter Williams will probably get neither. The replacement for Jrue Holiday is full of potential. Standing at 6-6 he should be a pretty athletic defensive player over time.
The main problem for MCW is can he be a consistent shooter? He shot 39 percent from the field last year at Syracuse. Of course, he’ll get tons of opportunities and minutes, which is huge. Sort of like starting a rookie quarterback. Let them go through their growing pains. On a team with no expectations I can’t think of a better situation rookie starter.
As for the other rookie…
4. Will Nerlens Noel see the floor?
Sounds like he won’t. And that’s probably the smart move. Let him redshirt this year and get stronger, while working on his offensive game. Part of me wants to see him play at least 20 games at the end of the year, but then again he may help this team win games and we sure as hell don’t want that.
In closing, it’s going to be a bad, possibly historically bad season. Yet, it’s not going to be that bad, knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the 2014 NBA Draft. I’m really looking forward to watching Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker and countless others and envisioning them
Philadelphia teams normally don’t hit the jackpot in the draft. They don’t get the opportunities to draft an Andrew Luck, a Lebron James, or a Sidney Crosby-type phenom that instantly gives a franchise championship aspirations.
Even when the Flyers finished dead last in 2006, they lost the draft lottery to the Blackhawks who took Patrick Kane while the Flyers took JVR and he’s already been turned into a middle of the pack defenseman (Luke Schenn). Kane meanwhile has been a consistent all-star winger who’s won two cups.
I really gotta hand it to new GM Sam Hinkie, he of the new-age sports analytics movement. He’s very very very very deliberate with everything he does. But I’m sure he took one look at this roster and say “Yeah, this isn’t gonna work.” He flipped Jrue, who while a good player, isn’t a great player, for an extra first in next year’s loaded draft (Pretty sure New Orleans already regrets that). He did no upgrades to his team to further enhance their own lottery odds, and convinced a coach from the most successful franchise in the NBA to come coach this team. The Sixers actually sit under the NBA Salary Cap Floor, which is pretty laughable, yet meaningless.
It took guts to sell ownership on completely giving up on this season and further pushing away what remaining fans were coming to the Wells Fargo Center.
But after one more misreable season, they’ll have more hope then they’ve had for the past decade since they’ve been stuck in nuetrual, save for 2009-10 when they got the second pick in the draft after the Eddie Jordan debacle.
They’ll have cap space, two 1st round, picks and two more lottery picks that have already gotten a year of development and playing time.
So it appears that good times may be on the horizon for the 76ers franchise. Who knows, maybe two years from now, this team has the young core equivalent to what the Thunder had in Westbrook Durant, and Harden(then foolishly broke up).
I’ve been waiting long enough for the Sixers to become relevant. What’s one more year?