Current holders of the longest streak in the NBA this season, the Philadelphia 76ers have lost 12 straight games. Having lost 22 of their last 25 games, their 0-11 record for the month of February was better than only the Los Angeles Clippers of the 1988-89 season for the worst record in a calendar month.
Starting the season to a respectable record of 12-21, a small amount of 76ers fans were actually disappointed given the much hyped draft class at the end of the season. The pro tanking fans have reasons to rejoice now as their team battles for the last spot as the race for the ping pong balls heats up.
When it comes to trades whether in the off-season or during the mid-season window, the Philadelphia 76ers were by far the busiest team. They traded players like Jrue Holiday and Andrew Bynum during the off-season and during the mid-season window players like Lavoy Allen, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes were shipped to other teams.
In all of these trades, a common factor other than receiving players in return has been the 76ers receiving and piling up draft picks for this year’s much talked about draft lottery. They have 7 picks in this year’s draft-2 first round and 5 second round. Not only this season, but Philly has a stocked pile of picks for the following seasons too. They have 3 picks in 2015 – 1 first round and 2 second round – while in 2016 its a couple of picks, one in each round.
So despite their current misery the 76ers have a shot at a very bright future with some smart decision making. Here’s how: -
They have the right pieces to build around:
In Michael Carter Williams, this season’s Rookie of the Year candidate, and Thaddeus Young, a dependable, productive power forward, the 76ers have the right pieces to officially tip-off their rebuild.
An elder statesman in the 76ers team, but only 25 years old, Young still has plenty to grow himself, yet can be a huge help in shaping the rookies coming in next season with his experience of playing in the top league. Under Head Coach Brett Brown’s offensive system, Young exploded in December, which included a 7-game stretch where the forward averaged 26.4 points and 8.3 rebounds and averaged 55.8% and 50% from the field and long range respectively.
Despite the various trade rumours the franchise did not deal Young in the mid-season trade window and should not either during the off-season. His versatility coupled with experience is a huge asset to the team and hopefully the 76ers have realized the same.
While Young had his share of trade rumours, a young superstar was born in Michael Carter Williams, the 11th pick in the last lottery. It didn’t take long for the rookie to steal the spotlight, flirting with a quadruple double in his debut against the defending champions. He is the fourth player in the history of the league to lead all rookies in points, rebounds and assists.
He has recorded 10 double doubles and a triple double this season which is tied 5th among guards in the league. For the 76ers, a 11th pick in the draft who has the ability to create shots for others and at the same time knock his own jumpers down is a profitable steal.
Certain picks could be used in smart selections in the draft
Various teams in the past have shown the cost-effective method of rising to the top by building through the draft.
The most recent was the was the 2009 NBA Champions Los Angeles Lakers who built a majority of their roster through the draft around future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant with players like Luke Walton, Andrew Bynum, Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic. Each of these lottery picks played vital and critical roles off the bench en route to the Lakers winning the 15th NBA Championship.
So it can certainly be done, but on the road to the top, the franchise needs to show patience and show complete commitment to the lottery picked players’ development. The 76ers need to what they are in for, before committing to a rebuild through the draft.
Remaining picks could come handy while landing a big contract player
Very few teams in the past have made it to the Finals without a superstar in the ranks and the 76ers would certainly need a superstar with experience and supreme talent to lead a young team of rookies.
Given the amount of cap space the 76ers have available this off-season, the chances of them signing a free agent superstar are very slim and unlikely. Here is where the stack pile of draft picks at their disposal come handy.
The picks would be of no use to a free agent so their targets would be players with the necessary requirement of a superstar potential along with experience in teams who are looking for a financial benefit by trading such a player.
The trade of Andre Iguodala from the Denver Nuggets to the Golden State Warriors last off-season was an example of such a move.
The 76ers most definitely have a shot at a bright future however their decision making when it comes to building the right mix of players in the roster is the key.Published 02 Mar 2014, 15:21 IST