Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Confession: I Am Fascinated By The 76ers

I swear, I don't know how I got on this court with professional basketball players!
The Philadelphia 76ers are awful. As they currently stand, they are a horribly constructed basketball team with an overabundance of tall men who will not play basketball for them this season, a veritable armada of D-League guys soaking up second half minutes, and nobody on the roster who can distribute the ball without tripping over it. They won 18 games last year. This year, with former top pick and potential franchise player Joel Embiid getting knocked out for another year by a broken foot and the very real possibility of JaKarr Sampson making the roster, they may be worse. 

And they are fascinating.

Start with the pieces that are actually on the roster -#3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor and former top pick Nerlens Noel. Noel turned into baby Motumbo by the end of last season, and Okafor has the potential to be very, very good indeed. Add conscienceless shooter Nick Stauskas, stolen from Sacramento in a deal so lopsided it looked like the post-iceberg Titanic, and you can maybe get the impression that you're getting in on the ground floor of something very interesting.

And then there's the moves. The stockpiling of draft picks. The cunning contract shenanigans with second rounders. The ruthless sifting of available talent in hopes of coming up with a gem or two. And of course the trades - the pantsing of the Kings being only the latest sword stuck into GM Hinkie's throne - that constantly accrue more and more assets, more and more options. Yes, you can carp about them trading away Rookie of The Year Michael Carter-Williams (that's his legal name now, in case you were wondering), but lest ye forget, it was a truly awful year for rookies. Kelly Olynyk, anyone? Trey Burke? And of course, the haul that came back was another first round pick, another bit of possibility to play with.

In a lot of ways, that makes them the perfect off-season team to be a fan of. IF Sacramento is awful then the Sixers could maybe pick-swap their way to the top of the draft again and IF LA is bad that's another #1 and IF Saric comes from overseas and IF Okafor learns how to play NBA D and IF and IF and IF - it's an endless buffet of possibility to dream on. And for a team without a superstar in this NBA - ask the Hawks how that "no stars" thing worked out for them -  that's about the best you can ask for. Because the alternative is watching them play, and right now, it's a lot more fun to dream.
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