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Sunday, January 4, 2015

SDH's 2014/2015 Worst to First Countdown for the First "Slap-mester" (Oct/Nov/Dec): 30. Philadelphia 76ers

Win/Loss Record as of December 31st, 2014:  4-26, fifth place Atlantic Division, 15th Place Eastern Conference

Projected 2014/2015 Finish
Current Rank as of December 31st
Team Statistics and League Rank as of December 31st,  2014: 

  • Points Scored: 90.8 (30th)
  • Points Allowed: 102.0 (23rd)
  • Team FG%: .412 (30th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .453 (15th)
  • Team FT%: .669 (30th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .296 (30th)
  • Rebounds per game: 42.0 (18th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 46.1 (30th)
  • Turnovers per game: 18.2 (30th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 17.0 (1st)

Individual Statistical Leaders as of December 31st, 2014:

Worst of the Class: Michael Carter Williams

Last season, he was essentially handed the Rookie of the Year award by default considering that there was no one elseworthy enough to give it to. Now MCW has proven his detractors right as he has thus far continued his rather undisciplined play of poor shot selection and turning over the ball.  His offensive efficiency has dropped with his scoring from 16.7ppg to 15.2 while shooting an even more woe-some .380 from the field-worse than last season's .405. And despite posting respectable assist numbers of 7 per game, they are all but nullified considering he turns over the ball at almost the same clip.  It seems as if we may have seen the best that MCW has to offer thus making Philly fans even more dread for the future of their team.

First of the Class: Henry Sims

Out of all the rejects and castaways that Philly has added to its roster, the most promising of them all has to be Henry Sims who has thus far been the most consistent and reliable member of this much maligned team.  Thus far Sims has been the most accurate shooter with his .503 field goal percentage averaging ten points and six rebounds in just 23.0 minutes per game.  To put in better context, Sims who was an undrafted rookie free agent who is earning the league's minimum wage is outperforming the much more hyped Nerlens Noel, a player that Philly has placed much of their hopes as a cornerstone of the franchise.  There is no doubt that this may be Sims' last season in the city of brotherly love as the team's front office has placed all of its hopes on an injured Joel Embiid who has yet to play a game as he will be sitting out the rest of the season due to his injury.  Nevertheless, at least Sims has shown enough to the rest of the NBA that not only does he belong in this league, but may prove to be quite the find once he becomes a free agent at the end of this season

To write a piece trashing the Philadelphia 76ers will be too much of a pain rather than a pleasure because not only is it just simply too easily considering the rather poor performance, but there is simply no good that can come from it.  It would be similar to beating up to beating down someone who is elderly or handicapped because there can be no satisfaction that can be gotten from doing something so heinous as to take advantage of someone so helpless.  Also, it has been blatantly apparent that it is the Sixers' strategy to finish as poorly as possible to have a better chance of acquiring the first overall pick of this upcoming draft while simply keeping the team together with discarded waste and useless spare parts.  If there can be anything good that can be taken out from this season, it is the fact that Philly has welcomed those who would otherwise not make an NBA team an opportunity to play giving them the sole opportunity to play in the big leagues.  Otherwise, it seems that ranking them as finishing number 27th in the preseason may have seemed to be to lofty for this sad excuse of a professional sports franchise as it seems that the Sixers have made it their mission to sink as low as possible despite the dispiriting effect it has on the few fans that continue to follow them, but also the disgust and disdain that they gather from fans of the game.

In fact, one can go as far to say that Philly's plan to continually bottom out in order to build the team from the ground up is a futile one at best because there is no way that this ongoing losing will build up any real winning culture whatsoever.  Plus, regardless of any salary cap space the team has accumulated, there is no way it can attract any respectable free agents to join it considering the current sad state the Sixers are in and forget about those high draft picks staying either.  The constant losing will simply suck the life of their young core of players thus leading them to either be traded to a more successful team or watch them walk away in free agency.  The complete lack of motivation has already begun to show in the team's current roster as all of them know that they are in no ways a part of the Sixers long term plans thus are less prone to care to the future fortunes of this team.  Finally, let us not forget is that players are drafted on potential, not on what they actually bring; so to base one's future on a bunch of "maybe" prospects is basically like playing the slots hoping that you will get the jackpot.

So what can be expected from a team that had lost its first sixteen games to start the regular season and will enter 2015 with a 4-26 record?  No one will certainly be expecting a playoff appearance for one, but at least Sixers fans have some glimmer of hope come next season when their team's third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, +Joel Embiid will supposedly be fully recovered and ready to play.  Other than that, they can only wait patiently until this waste of a season finally comes to a merciful end in which they can anticipate another shot to hopefully hit gold and be bestowed that elusive number one overall pick that both them and their team so desperately covet.   It is pretty disheartening to write about such a team who would rather settle for losing instead of actually putting forth an effort to be somewhat competitive; however, there are still a few bright spots on what can be considered as another lost season.  Though the smoke, ashes and rubble have arisen a few diamonds in the rough who have been able to shine despite the doom and despair that has plagued this one proud franchise for so many years.

The brightest of those diamonds would have to be Tony Wroten, a player who had been previously discarded by his former team after being selected rather low in the Draft only to find a niche on this struggling franchise.  Despite having been written off a a draft day bust, Wroten has thus far been the team's sole offensive spark leading Philly in scoring while at the same time providing some energy on the defensive end with his nearly two steals per game. Along with putting the ball in the basket, Wroten has also put it upon himself to also get him teammates involved in the offense whenever he can with his 5.2 assists per game, which is second to the team's supposed star, Michael Carter Williams, who has thus far been a pathetic disappointment to say the least.  In his third year and at the tender age of 21, Wroten certainly has a very high ceiling considering his size (6' 6", 205 lbs), length and athleticism mixed with his impressive ball handling, passing and scoring abilities; however, save for a selected few, he like all the other players on the roster are in no ways part of the Sixers' future and will most likely find himself on another team come next season.  It is a shame, really, to see such a talented player be undervalued and overlooked by a team whose front office is so focused on looking ahead that it does see what it has right under its nose.

Along with Wroten, the Sixers found themselves with a virtual steal in last summer's draft in KJ McDaniels, whom despite falling all the way to the mid second round, has outperformed most of the members of his rookie class who were drafted far higher.  Currently he is third in the league among rookies in scoring behind both the number one and two overall picks in the draft, +Minnesota Timberwolves+Andrew Wiggins and +Milwaukee Bucks+Jabari Parker.  That may not be much of an accomplishment considering the fact that this rookie class, which was touted as probably the deepest and most talented in recent memory but has thus far failed miserably to live up to all of the hype; however, what should be noted is that this 6' 6" shooting guard currently ranks first among rookies in blocked shots per game and has a higher blocks per game average than some centers in the league.  Mc Daniels currently rests at number thirteen among the league's best shot blockers which is higher than more notable players known for their rim protection skills such as +Portland Trail Blazers' Robin Lopez (1.5bpg, 14th in the league), +Al Horford of the +Atlanta Hawks (1.5bpg, 15th), +Dallas Mavericks'  +Tyson Chandler  (1.3bpg, 22nd) and +Chicago Bulls+Joakim Noah to name a few.  With any luck, he might just surpass the more highly favored Andrew Wiggins and become the first second round pick in NBA History to win the Rookie of the Year Award, but more than likely he will finish a close second and join Wiggins on the All Rookie First Team.  

Some other notables who have also been either overlooked or ignored are former +Georgetown Hoyas Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson--two players whom despite having very solid college careers were left undrafted and forced to claws their ways into the NBA.  Sims, a 6' 10" center who had bounced around in both the NBA and the +DLeague, has so far out-shined his more highly touted and notable teammate Nerlens Noel, while Thompson has started in 21 of the 25 games he has played thus far this season. Another  D League alum who has also carved a place in the team's rotation is 6' 9" swing man Robert Covington who made an almost immediate impact upon his arrival in Philly.  Covington shined in the Sixers sole four wins averaging 16 points, six rebounds and almost two steals per game while providing a strong presence on the court both as a starter in 11 games averaging 16.1 points and 6,1 rebounds and coming off the bench in 13 games, 9.4 points and 2,8 rebounds.  Together he along with Wroten, Daniels, Sims and Thompson have provided the Sixers and the few fans that still follow them more joy than the three lottery picks whom were supposed to be the future faces of the franchise.

So to put it bluntly, it is obvious that the Sixers are in no way going to be a factor in either the Eastern Conference or the entire league for that matter as long as they continue to chase shadows while trying to build themselves on misplaced hopes and dreams. Three of the players that the organization have placed their fortunes have either been incapacitated by injury such as Embiid, proven that they are not as good as previously believed as Carter Williams, or has yet to show that he will be anything more than a role player in Noel.  For basketball fans in the City of Brotherly Love, all there is left is to hope for a quick and painless death as the next three months will certainly drag on as the losses continue to mount until whatever spirit and life that is left in this team is completely snuffed out.  As for the organization itself, it will no doubt continue its shameless display of losing for draft picks while trying to con its fan base that it is doing so to build for the future.   Now, all we can do is simply wait for another sham of a Philadelphia 76ers season be flushed down the toilet just so they can get another chance to do it again.