“I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” – Jack Kerouac
I’ve been asked to once again provide my opinion and feelings on the Sixers during what has been a crazy, intriguing season through 35 games. There’s one word to describe it: irrational. If I owned this team or was the GM, I would be thrilled. You (probably) picked the best coach for the job, your young team is playing well considering the overall lack of talent, you have picks galore in the upcoming draft, valuable trade chips, $11 million in cap space and Hip Hop is no longer affiliated with the team in any capacity (RIP).
As a fan though, I’m seeing this in a different light. Binary numbers might best describe what has occurred thus far from that perspective. Up/Down; +/-; 1/0. I’m happy and I’m not. I’m fearful and I’m not. Let’s list the positives followed directly by the negatives affecting it:
Positive: The team is playing really hard and winning way more than expected
Negative: They’re winning way more than expected
Look…this team is in no way ready to even sniff the playoffs and needs to be losing big time. But as a credit to the players and coaching staff, they’re winning some tough games. They just went 4-2 on their annual post-Xmas West Coast trip highlighted by wins over Denver and Portland who is really friggin’ good.
But with only 47 games left the “real” losing needs to start soon. There are some horrendous teams and they need to be in that same category. They currently have the 5th worst winning % in the league, but it’s not good enough.
I watched the Milwaukee Bucks recently and I was in shock. Some guy named Khris Middleton was manning the PF position for them. Caron Butler starts and plays 27 min a game. It’s a travesty.
My buddy Mak and I attended the Sixers OT win over the Magic last month. Besides Oladipo and Afflalo (who is ripe to be traded) I’m not sure we saw an NBA team and I may file a complaint with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a result. We’re pretty sure Bo Outlaw was playing PF at one point.
The point is they’re right on the border of sucking towards a top-5 pick and unfortunately winning enough to get a pick between 6-10.
Positive: Their “veterans” are playing very well
Negative: They’re playing a little too well
They’ve already won 12 games and I believe the Vegas over/under was 15. They’re going to eclipse that mark but they can’t by too much for draft purposes. The silver lining on Thad (18 pts, 7 rebs, 2 ass, 19.0 PER-45th in the league), Hawes (14 pts, 9 rebs, 3 ass, 18.0 PER) and Turner (19 pts, 6 rebs, 4 ass, 14.3 PER) is that they’ve gone from lame ducks to solid commodities on the trade market.
There’s no way Hawes is on this team by the end of the trade deadline. Contenders need mobile big men and he’s probably the best on the market and on an expiring deal (watch OKC on this one).
Turner is another story. He has a rep in the league as a bit of a mope and is due a big payday (similar to Jrue Holiday’s deal inked a few years ago). I don’t think teams are lining up for him. But with Luol Deng off of the market and Danny Granger still hobbling into playing shape, Turner all of a sudden might be interesting to some (who you might ask…I have no idea).
Thad is the polar opposite. He’s only 25 years old, playing the best basketball of his career, a really hard worker on both ends and is under a reasonable deal through 2016. He’s the guy the Sixers could get a huge return on if traded (I still think the Suns are in play here even with Bledsoe out). BUT going along with my +/- premise, he’s also the one guy you’d want to keep around. He’s a good influence in the locker room and his presence would help lead the next generation of Sixers.
This whole thing is starting to tear me apart!! But I can’t stop now because we haven’t talked about the most important aspect of this season besides MCDub (17 pts, 6 rebs, 7 ass, 18.5 PER-52nd in the league and the 1st ROY in Philly since AI!) and Tony Wroten (14 pts, 4 rebs, 3 ass, 13.3 PER-why did Memphis just give him away?)
Positive: The Sixers will potentially have two picks in the top-12 of the 2014 draft
Negative: Is this draft really going to be the greatest since 2003?
This team will have a top-5 pick. Team management will trade Hawes, Turner and/or Thad within the next few weeks. MCDub will have some mysterious injuries (a bum knee, stomach flu, a bout of progeria) and miss time. They score points but are still dead last in the league in team defense (30th-111.1 pts allowed per game). They will bomb out and it’ll be ugly.
Also, the Pelicans have been decimated by injuries. Holiday, Anderson and Davis have all missed time and they’re in a superior conference. Their pick, in light of Holiday’s broken leg and Anderson’s herniated disc, is going to be right in that sweet spot for the Sixers (6-10)
But is this draft a little overrated at this point? Are more players than first expected going to remain in school for another year? Wiggins, Randle, Parker is now Embiid, Smart and Exum (or some other variation). I’ve watched some college ball this year and I think the most solid pick at this point would be Julius Randle and the dream scenario for the Sixers would be to add Gary Harris or Rodney Hood with the NOLA pick. I don’t think this is the slam dunk, full of hall of famers type draft that it was once hyped to be. But if you have two top-10 to top-12 picks you’re going to get some tremendous players that you can build a team around.
I love this team and their effort. But I hate this team for winning a little too much. I’m the best type of fan and the worst. But one thing is for certain: I understand how the league works in 2014 and I can accept bottoming out in exchange for rebuilding the right way. Teams have to draft high and well, sign solid free agents intelligently (ie. at market value or below) and keep your young players that will help you down the road when you’re actually competing. LeBron can’t win forever (maybe just for the next 7-8 seasons) and when he slips just a little I hope MCDub and crew are there to step on his throat. I’m going to go take my polarity meds now to even out.