Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Sixers Are Pulling Off A Between The Legs Back Door Tank

I'm Very Very Injured
When last we looked in on the Second Favorite laundry (that'd be the Philadelphia 76ers, AKA the childhood standard of excellence, in that my childhood reaches back to Dr. J and Moses Malone), they had righted the ship after an 0-17 start, won a reasonable amount of games behind youthful exuberance and relentless defense, developed a few interesting pieces in Robert Covington, Jerami Grant, Luc Mbah a Moute and KJ McDaniels, and rode the increasing defensive monster that is Nerlens Noel to above the stink line status in the nether regions of the NBA.

Sure, some in the fan base worried that they were going to sneak past the Knicks and Lakers in the lottery reverse standings, but others trusted in Sith Lord Sam Hinkie to do what was wrong in the short run... and at the trade deadline, did he ever, moving McDaniels to the Rockets for a reasonable second round pick (in that KJ seemed uninterested in re-signing here, which is to say, um, yeah), and point guard and ex-Rookie of the Year, Counting Stats Only Edition, Michael Carter-Williams to Milwaukee for the shockingly high potential that is a Lakers first round pick.

What they got back in the deal was undersized gunning G Isiah Cannon (can shoot from distance, can drive and dish, can't defend anyone in the NBA), C JaVale McGee (waived already, and not a moment too soon) and picks for the future. The team is now still giving maximum effort and tough as nails on defense (assuming, of course, that you aren't Cannon's man), but when your point guards are guys that were the best that the D-League had to offer, you aren't winning games in the Association in 2015. Even in the LEastern Conference, in the Titanic Atlantic division.

What makes things even more chuckle worthy is the fact that C Joel Embiid, the third overall pick in the fated No Wiggins Much Cry draft, is dunking between his legs, along with shooting 3s and free throws, in warm-ups. This, after a stress fracture injury that caused the whole No Wiggins problem in the first place (I pine for Wiggins, as you might have guessed by now), which had a 4 to 6 month recovery window. So Embiid might have been playing for the team in, well, December, let alone right freaking now.

There is an argument, of course, for playing Embiid a little in 2015, in the same line up with Noel, to see if they can co-exist, and to give the long-suffering fans something to hope about in 2016. Namely, that shooting inside the paint against that lineup might get you committed, and that everyone else on the roster is going to be hanging out at the arc, making people settle for those long 2s that no one in the NBA wants to shoot any more. But what's really happened here is that Philly has managed to avoid historical ineptitude (they already have 13 wins on the year, and 9 is, after all, the tragic number), developed some pieces, and given themselves magical hopes of another top 3 selection. Here's the bottom feeders now...

New York: 12-48
Philadelphia: 13-49
Minnesota: 13-47
LA Lakers: 16-45
Orlando: 20-43
Sacramento: 21-39
Denver: 22-40
Detroit: 23-38
Utah: 25-36

And I can't go higher than that, because then we are into playoff contention still. (Yes, seriously. Brooklyn is ten games below .500, and 1.5 games out of getting rolled by Atlanta in a first round beatdown.)

So what's really happened is that, just like last year when Hinkie moved out Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner and played Fungible for massive losing streaks to close out the schedule... well, verse 2, Double Tank Double Down. One suspects that a third round of this would be beyond the pale, but really, we're in uncharted waters out here with this club, both in terms of public acceptance (the Sixers are actually on the rise in attendance locally in 2014-15 compared to 2013-14 as I write this -- 14,208 to 13,869) and media hatred (there isn't a sports talk or media guy in the area that isn't employed by the club that isn't seemingly livid with Hinkie, mostly because he doesn't seem to give a rat's ass what they think).

My guess is that they'll overpay a guy this summer and come out with their sites on the 8th seed and 35 wins while rising, because I think we've reached the end of patience on this, and another year of 25+ guys shuffled in and out in a hope to find gold amongst the pyrite would end all hopes that this isn't just a con game to run a losing team cheaply. But if they pull the chutes at the trade deadline again in 2015?

Well, you couldn't say that it would be unexpected. They are, clearly, capable of it. And anything else, which really makes them a very dark horse pick for Most Captivating Sports Franchise right now...

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule