For the second straight year the Philadelphia 76ers are in tank mode. They have not won a championship in my lifetime but they are really getting good at this tanking thing.
The 76ers have again embarked on a season that is unwatchable. They currently sit at 0-14 and most certainly headed for one of the top picks in the NBA Draft. For most of my life, other than 2001 NBA Finals appearance, the 76ers have been rather uneventful. Other than that championship run, there is not many memories that stand out. Sure we got to see some of Charles Barkley. And sure we saw Allen Iverson. But watching a superstar nightly pales in comparison to championship teams and championship runs.
After the 01 Finals run, the 76ers were stuck in purgatory for 10 years. Here is a rundown of their records followed by their finish in conference in parenthesis.
03-04 season 33-49 (11th) drafted #9- Andre Iguodala
04-05 season 43-39 (7th) No 1st round pick
05-06 season 38-44 (9th) drafted #13 Thabo Sefolosha (traded to Chicago for Rodney Carney)
06-07 season 35-47 (10th) drafted #12 Thaddeus Young
07-08 season 40-42 (7th) drafted #16 Marreese Speights
08-09 season 41-41 (6th) drafted #17 Jrue Holiday
09-10 season 27-55 (13th) drafted #2- Evan Turner
10-11 season 41-41 (7th) drafted #16 Nikola Vucevic
11-12 season 35-31 (8th) drafted #15 Maurice Harkless
12-13 season 34-48 (9th) drafted #11 Michael Carter Williams
They picked 9th or lower in the first round 8 out of the 10 years. There are no franchise changers/builders in that portion of the draft. Picking in that portion of the draft also means you made the playoffs and were eliminated quickly. So they weren’t good enough to contend and weren’t bad enough to be in the lottery. That my friends is purgatory. That my friends is 10 years of mediocrity. And that my friends was 10 years of nothing.
They did have the #2 pick in the draft in 2010. Unfortunately, it was a year to late or a year to early to pick that high. They got unlucky that it was one of the worst draft classes in NBA History. They selected Evan Turner who is a role player. And yes, they did make a run in 2011-2012 shortened season. They made that run thanks to the end of Derrick Rose’s career and were able to beat the Bulls in 6 games taking out the #1 seed. They were 4 minutes away from playing Miami in the East Finals. But that team was going nowhere.
The team attempted to avoid the tank. They traded Igoudala and received Andrew Bynum as part of a 3 team trade. Bynum was going to be the big man that was going to lead the 76ers back to contention. The problem was Bynum was damaged goods. His best contributions in Philadelphia included sitting on the bench and bowling. So, they tried to go this route and failed but not for lack of trying.
The 76ers hired Sam Hinkie as the general manager. He was able to rid them of Andrew Bynum. They were now faced with rebuilding the whole roster. In rebuilding a roster, it involves losing. The 76ers decided to tank last year’s season as they tried to position themselves to get Andrew Wiggins, the proclaimed franchise changer in the draft. Again, an unlucky break saw the Cleveland Cavaliers end up with the first pick in the draft despite the 76ers having a worse record. This was just another example of David Stern fixing a draft lottery, this time to give the Cavs fans hope after Lebron left town. So the 76ers ended up with Joel Embiid.
Joel Embiid was projected anywhere amongst the top 4 picks in the draft. Teams were hesitant as he is a big man with injuries. The 76ers ended up with him at #3. This pick was not as if it was a reach. It was not as if the 76ers were trying to blow the pick. He was a consensus top pick. Unfortunately, he is going to miss the year because of injury. Also working against the 76ers is a trade they made to rid themselves of a contract and move up in the draft. They traded their first round pick in the 2015 draft protected by the lottery. So couple that with Embiid’s injury and you are looking at another dismal season.
This has caused the 76ers to be the topic of bashing amongst the media. Many articles and talk radio discussions have taken place as to what a disgrace this is. Please note that their is nothing in the NBA rules that says what they are doing is wrong. Although, the NBA did try and pass a rule after the season had started to prevent tanking by changing draft procedure. The 76ers forced their hand because of the asinine set up of the league. The NBA has forced teams to become horrific in order to get better.
I don’t recall anyone making a big deal out of the Oklahoma City Sonics giving away seasons to draft Durant #2 in 07, Westbrook #4 in 08, and Harden #3 in 09. I don’t recall rules being changed when the Miami Heat or the New York Knicks or the Lakers or the Rockets are shedding contracts to position themselves for free agents. The Florida/Miami Marlins win the World Series and ship everybody out. The Houston Astros played with minor leaguers the past 2 years. The Pittsburgh Penguins did the same before drafting Crosby and then Malkin. Do you know what those leagues and the media called it in those instances….rebuilding.
The NBA has done this to themselves. I hope the 76ers make a mockery of the league this year. I hope they dress guys from the playgrounds of North Philly to play. I hope they go 0-82 and no one watches or shows up to games. With the exception of the Bulls, the NBA’s big markets are in the tank with the Knicks, Lakers, Celtics, and 76ers in losing mode.
As far as I am concerned the 76ers are doing what is best for the franchise and they are doing it well. Sure bad contracts and trades led them down this path beginning in 2003. Billy King was and is a joke. Hes as incompetent as the wall in front of me. He helped destroy the 76ers and is on the verge of the same in Brooklyn.
It will be another long winter for the 76ers with low attendance and low tv ratings. But don’t be mad at the organization, don’t be mad at Sam Hinkie, don’t be mad Brett Brown, and don’t be mad at the players you have never heard of; take your anger out on the NBA’s system.
The 76ers are in hell right now, but its certainly better than purgatory. And for the first time in a long while off in the far far distance there is a small gleam of light. That small gleam of light is heaven. So tank on 6ers