This isn’t necessarily going to be about the Sixers game last night. It’s always fun watching your team win their first home game of the year (considering not much Winning At Home is occurring right now in this city) and especially versus the reigning champs. We’ll cover my thoughts on the game itself and what positives and negatives can be construed as well as my takeaways on other teams that I viewed last night (NBA League Pass Free Preview!!) later on. But I’d be remiss to not first address the gigantic, omnipresent and stinky elephant in the room.
What this team has done has precedence but not to such an enormous and palpable scale. The Sixers barely have an NBA roster. They have some intriguing young pieces (Noel, Carter-Williams, Wroten), some “veteran” talent (Turner, Young, Hawes) and what is predominantly perceived as an excellent head coach (Brown). But it’s primarily comprised of ridiculous career ham ‘n’ eggers.
James Anderson, Darius Morris and Daniel Orton should either be playing for the Delaware 87ers or ball boys at the Wells Fargo Center. Jason Richardson may never play again. At this rate, he may never walk again. Kwame Brown is the Hindenburg of NBA 1st draft picks. He single handedly turned Michael Jordan into “best player ever” to “best player ever; possibly worse GM ever.”
The tank job constructed by owner Josh Harris and GM Sam Hinkie is the most incredible and outlandish attempt to get the top pick in the history of the league. Some don’t appreciate it. Old heads and contrarians who think it disgraces the game. But the way the NBA has structured the salary cap, free agency and lottery/draft system completely lends itself to this type of behavior. Most importantly, tanking is sort of the only way to become a top 4-5 team in this league. Teams do it in two ways: losing in order to get a top pick (2013-14 Sixers) or stripping your roster bare in order to get max cap space for free agency (2009-10 Heat; their centers were Jamaal Magloire and Jermaine O’Neal!). The Sixers (I believe) now have a very smart GM who prescribes to analytical stats and is simply playing the percentages. Consistently winning 38-42 games a year and losing in the 1st round of the playoffs is franchise suicide. Hinkie is merely playing by the rules the NBA has established. And I couldn’t be happier as a fan. (If this backfires and they wind up with the 4th and 12th pick of the draft, ignore this entire thing, please).
– Michael Carter-Williams (aka MCDub) played outta his mind last night. I don’t think he’ll approach a near quad double again this season and no way he goes 4-6 3PT. But he played strong and showed amazing athleticism and dexterity (9 steals). If they can put some muscle on him and he matures to look older than a 7th grader, they might have a 6-6 PG with speed and a jump shot (Magic Johnson proclaimed that he’ll be the ROY via Twitter). With Noel likely shelved for the season MCDub is the guy to watch while they’re down 15 in Milwaukee on a Tuesday night in the midst of yet another 9 game losing streak.
– Evan Turner scored points, made a few stops and looked bad doing it. Par for the course. At this point I would deem him a bust considering his draft status and would stamp him as “he is what he is.” But what he is can be sellable in the NBA. He’s a big guard who can get to the rim, grab some boards and his contract isn’t ghastly. My dream is that he continues to put up 24-6-5’s and they offload him for an expiring and maybe a 2nd rounder. I’m no Wall Street expert but I would have to proclaim that as a “bad return on my investment.” But that would allow for them to cut cap and make their team worse for the tank job.
– Whichever team trades for Evan Turner, let’s try to throw Spencer Hawes into the deal and hope they don’t notice until it’s too late and they’re stuck watching a 7-foot, 260 lb. center spot up for horrific 3-pointers and play turnstile defense on the post.
– Doc, Moses and AI were all in attendance last night. NO WAY that building will contain more cool people at one time this season again. Maybe not ever.
– A wise woman once uttered the following about Heat center and tattooed idiot Chris Anderson aka “Birdman”: he’s not good enough to have his own nickname. I couldn’t agree more but I do like the idea of bad players having nicknames. I’d like to piggyback off of Anderson’s gimmick and make my pitch for labeling Kwame Brown “Turdman.” This would add some much needed enjoyment to what will probably be an appalling season. #TURDMAN!
– Marc Zumoff pronounced that the Heat’s 3 point line was called “Allentown” after Ray Allen’s third in a row. I felt embarrassed for him and myself after he said it.
Random NBA Notes as related to the 76ers:
– The Suns won as well last night. I couldn’t have been happier because it offset the Sixers winning and kept them neck and neck in the Andrew Wiggins pole position.
– And most importantly, the Pelicans lost to the Pacers and looked sad doing it. I don’t get a sense of identity for that team. They have a stud in Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson is the perfect complement for him. But they have 3 ball hog guards, no SF and zero depth in the front court (Jason Smith and Greg Stiemsma; yikes!). Also, they have no crowd at their games because NOLA is the funnest, most funnest city in the world. They’re good but not good enough which is perfect for the Sixers as they only get their 1st round pick if it’s outside of the top 5.
If you’re a fan and you understand what they’re doing, it’ll be an interesting year. I can’t wait to watch MCDub mature, Brett Brown develop the team’s defensive philosophy/intensity and what they do with Evan Turner and Thad. But don’t be mistaken by my excitement. This team is going to be awful and painful to watch most nights. The tanking will actually be worse than the dreadful 1984 movie called “Tank” starring James Garner and C. Thomas Howell. But it’s for the greater good, everyone. Strap on your army helmets and prepare for the Tank!