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Sunday, June 16, 2013

SDH Presents the 2013 End of Season NBA's Worst to First: 21. Philadelphia 76ers

Overall Win/Loss Record (At Season’s End):  34-48, tied fourth place Atlantic Division

At Season’s End:

Team Statistics and League Rank (At Season’s End)

  • Points Scored: 93.2 (30th)
  • Points Allowed: 96.5 (9th)
  • Team FG%: .444 (22nd)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .454 (16th)
  • Team FT%: .729 (25th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .360 (13th)
  • Rebounds per game: 41.3 (20th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 44.0 (26th)
  • Turnovers per game: 12.6 (2nd)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 13.8 (19th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (At Season’s End)

  • Scoring (ppg): Jrue Holiday (17.7)
  • Rebounds per gameThaddeus Young (7.5)
  • Minutes per game: Jrue Holiday (37.5)
  • Assists per game:  Jrue Holiday (8.0)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Thaddeus Young (.531)
  • Free Throw PercentageDorell Wright (.850)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Dorell Wright (.374)
  • Steals per game: Thaddeus Young (1.8)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Spencer Hawes (1.4)  

Taking a Look Back at the Season that Once Was . . .

SDH Worst to First Recap
Time Period
Change (+/-)
At Season’s End
SDH Player of the Year:
Jrue Holiday

Despite his team not qualifying for the playoffs, Jrue Holiday posted a magnificent season despite being on a team that had little if anything to offer.  Holiday virtually carried the Sixers in almost every games leading his team in both points and assists per.  His 8.0 average of assists per game can be seen as even more remarkable given the fact that he virtually had no one really to pass it to as can be seen by the team poor scoring and even poorer ability to make a basket.  Regardless, if it were not for Holiday, the 76ers would not have even come close to finish the regular season with a disappointing yet at the same time respectable 34-48 falling three games shy of the last playoff spot in the East.  If the Sixers manage to get some high quality talent  behind him, then they certainly have a chance come next season to return to the playoff thanks to Holiday's leadership.

The last couple of years the Philadelphia 76ers had defied the odds and silenced all skeptics and doubters as they made the playoffs twice in a row even shocking the the world taking down the top team in last season's playoffs.  They did so without any real marquee name or abundance of talent or offensive firepower, but a scrappy group of hungry players who no one would have known or cared for.  This season was supposed to be the one where Philly would remove the "scrappy" label off their team as it executed a deal that would forever change the direction of the franchise.  In an offseason deal which involved four teams, more that ten players, numerous draft picks and the biggest trade exemption allowed in NBA history, the Philadephia 76ers attained not only a marquee player they had so relished, but also the new cornerstone for the franchise.  He was a All Star big man who had three NBA Finals appearances and two NBA Championship rings and he went by the name of Andrew Bynum.

Never since NBA great Moses Malone had the Philly 76ers had such a find in Andrew Bynum as he was arguably the second best center in the league behind Dwight Howard, who as a result of the aforementioned trade, changed his address from Central Florida to Hollywood.  Everyone inwith in the organization along with the city of brotherly love were filled with so much excitement and anticipation to have a player of Bynum's caliber.  All the team had to give up to him was the overflated contract and overrated image of swing man Andre Iguodala, who went to the Denver Nuggets, second year center Nikola Vucevic, the rights of their 2012 draft pick Moe Harkless and a future first round pick which were all sent to the Orlando Magic.  Save for the losing as solid big, and two first round picks, the 76ers still came out on top as they managed to finally rid themselves of the erroneous and regrettable contract of Igouodala who despite earning All Star dollars, played more like a role player than anything else.  Not much was expected out of Vucevic, either, , as the Sixers picked late in the first round in the 2011 Draft, or Harkless, who probably would not even cracked the roster if he had stayed, ot the first round pick they gave to Orlando, as many figured it would be rather low since Philly's projections for the season were pretty high.

Through the entire off season Sixers' front office, led by the charge of head coach Doug Collins, went on find and acquire all the right piece to fashion the team in the image of Bynum.  They went on to build the roster using Bynum as their foundation as the team acquiring pieces through free agency to surround him even though he had yet to play a game in Philly.  It did not matter that he would become an unrestricted free agent by season's end and the fact that he spent the entire off season rehabbing his sore knees, the Sixers were not only confident that Bynum would not only be ready by opening tip off but also that they were capable to retain him long term.  Regardless of the numerous red flags that waved around him at the time, the Sixers' top brass along with Doug Collins were unfazed by them as they have been faced with numerous obstacles and still overcame them.  Why play it safe when luck and good fortune have been on their side for the past two years?

Unfortunately luck would not be on the side of the Sixers as it was determined that Andrew Bynum was in no ways ready to play and that his knee injury was more serious than anyone had thought.  It seemed, according to numerous sources that Bynum had a deteriorating condition that would only get worse and that Bynum's condition will only get worse over time.  The news came as an immediate shot to the Sixers who hoped to showcase their new addition in the regular season; unfortunately however, they were left blindsided and were forced to play with a team that in most cases were out-sized and out matched.  The same team that won not by talent, but by their effort found that their scrappy was simply not enough any more and the lack of intimidating presence that Bynum could have provided doomed the Sixers' entire regular season.  What was once a team that looked to take that next step forward ended up taking two steps backward as not only the miss the playoffs, but may also not be going there for quite some time.

Philly had invested so much in Bynum's arrival that it virtually had no backup plan leaving them with a huge mess on their hands and plenty of soul searching to do about its future.  Certainly Bynum's prognosis was a harsh blow for not only the Sixers, but also their fans as this was to be the year that their team would finally move from a middle of the pack mediocre team to a force in not only the Eastern Conference, but the NBA as well.  Although the season was a severe letdown, at least the Sixers were able to dodge a bullet as they did not have Bynum signed to a long term deal and that his contract would come off their books upon season's end.  So in effect, lady luck still shined on the city of brotherly love for although the Sixers struggled with Bynum out of the lineup, they do not have to worry about being stuck with him long term and the Sixers would have been in worse shape.  Fortunately for them, the Sixers were able to walk away unscathed from what could have been a monumental distster finding out about Bynum's condition sooner not rather later after signing Bynum to a max extension and be forced to swallow that mistake for the next five or six year so they should count themselves grateful than anything else.