Thursday, 16 June 2016

The Mess That is the Philadelphia 76ers

I promised this post...time to deliver!

photo from
We talked a few posts ago about the Oilers decade long struggle, but they aren't the only team in the arena leagues with a constant bottom finisher in recent history. The Philadelphia 76ers, a team famous for Allen Iverson, Maurice Cheeks, Dr. J (The Grover Washington Jr. song & the NBA Legend), Moses Malone, Charles Barkley's first 8 years, has been abysmal for the past 4 seasons! Their combined record of 81-247. a ~32% Winning percentage. 34 of those wins came in one season, subtracting that means the team in the past 3 seasons has only won 23% of their games, which is frankly...well the numbers speak for themselves better than I could insult the team for. Of course basketball is a sport where when you're bad, you're really bad, and the teams ahead of you will walk all over you. Most team's worst seasons in franchise history won't top 20 games, so every so often a team is to have their unadulterated stinker of a season. However, how do you suck THAT bad? How does one of the NBA's classic megamarket teams (like the Knicks, Celtics, Lakers and Pistons) go so wrong? How does a perennial playoff team go to winning so few games?

1. They just don't have the talent

In the NBA, talent comes from two methods; drafting it and buying it. If your team can't afford to buy a Lebron or Kevin Durant, you'll need to draft a superstar from high school or a top ranked NCAA school to get other good players interested in playing for you to play with them. Problem is, these superstars need to be superstars right away; they need to redefine your team within a few seasons, or you should trade them to a team with pieces to get some pieces of your own. You need to build chemistry and get a winning team going. When your team is mostly under 25s without any winning're setting your team up for disaster. The Sixers have already gone through a cycle of good but not great players. Michael Carter-Williams left, Evan Turner left,  Thaddeus Young left, and have been replaced with....more of the same with Nerlens Noel. Jahlil Okafor is a fantastic rookie, but he might be the next Carter-Williams, rookie of the year material, but not a team saver. When the Cavs traded amazing player Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota for Kevin Love, they made the right move, the two NBA Finals speak for themselves, and while Kevin Love is streaky, was certainly worth the trade that got rid of bust Anthony Bennett. The Sixers need to do something similar and make a big signing.

2. They haven't had that key no.1 pick

Because of the NBA draft lottery, the Sixers have yet to receive something perennial losers get at least once in their spend of crap, a no.1 pick. Since 2013 (when the bad losing began), the Cavs and T-wolves got their no.1 overall picks, while the Sixers picked 3rd both years, drafting injury prone Joel Embiid and decent Okafor those years. This year doesn't have Andrew Wiggins or the under the radar Karl-Anthony Towns. I wouldn't call this year a weak draft year, but with such a large draft class (162 eligible players), predicted no.1 overall pick Ben Simmons has to make an impact quick, as the Lakers and Celtics will have the other two picks (for now, the Celtics may trade the pick).

3. Their division isn't getting any easier

When you're in a division the Brooklyn Nets could win in 2012 and 2013, you're in an easy division. When the Sixers tanked, they picked a good time to do so. Their division was crap, and gave their rookies and chance to gain experience without playing a powerhouse to knock them down a peg a few times a year. With just the Raptors and Celtics making the playoffs since 2014 and the Knicks/Nets being bottom dwellers in the East with little improvement. Now, the Raptors and Celtics are two of the top teams in the East with the Cavs, and only improving. The Knicks have been drafting well and appear to be turning a new leafs. That means there are now 3 teams ways ahead other Sixers, rather than just one or two. It'll become harder for the Sixers to make the playoffs in the Atlantic baring a catastrophic failure from 2 of the 3 teams.

4. The Eastern Conference isn't getting any easier

Playing in the East has gotten a lot harder in the past few years. When I started this blog, the West was leaps and bounds better than the East wth regards to strength of teams. This year however, the East was 3 games better than the West in terms of playoff teams, despite the West having the Warriors & Spurs. The Chicago Bulls & Washington Wizards could have made the playoffs in the West while only the top 5 teams in the West would have done so with their records in the East. Aside from Brooklyn & Philly, the teams that missed the playoffs in the East are either rebuilding, suffered injuries or getting better. The Bucks & Magic played good basketball considering the age of their teams, the Knicks are improving, and the Wizards/Bulls suffered from off season loses and injuries. The Pistons and Hornets are back in the playoff picture and look to be staying. The Sixers need to hope some of these teams get worse or they magically improve. The Sixers could have hoped to get into the playoffs with a sub-.500 record like they did in 2011 & 2012 but not anymore.

5. They Are Miles Behind a Playoff Spot: Statistically

It could be argued the Sixers have not been competitive since 2009, when they pushed the favoured Orlando Magic to 6 games, but making the playoffs in 2011 & 2012 showed signs of life, you could argue things were trending upward after getting Carter-Williams....but now...I don't even think the Sixers have hit rock bottom. The team went 1-30 to start off 2015-16....18 straight right off the bat....those are some depressing numbers. It sucks the moral right out of the team, it makes players, coaches, management and fans feel the worst feeling: out of control and helpless. Unlike most bad teams where you can pinpoint the problem areas, literally nothing is going right for the Sixers. How can a team be THIS bad for 3 straight seasons. Their leading scorer last season, rookie Jahlil Okafor, averaged 17.5 points a game....that's 5 more than 2nd place Robert Covington. To give you an idea of how far that is from playoff ready, the 8th place Detroit Pistons top 5 scorers all average at least 14 points a game, and the Toronto Raptors had two players averaging at least 20 points a game. Okafor is producing, but the rest of the Sixers are not, and without help, he will burn out before his 5th season. The Sixers also on average give up 10 more points than they score, averaging 97.4 points per game and giving up 107.6, the Pistons averaged 102 PPG and only gave up 101.4.

I would end this with a summary, but I think Jim Mora put it perfectly back in 2001....

There are 7 NFL teams with more wins than the Sixers and 4 with as many during the 2015 season...and the New York Jets still missed the playoffs with 10 wins...the Sixers were 34 games out of a playoff spot....I have no solution, I have no's just pathetic! 

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