Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Sixers Avoid Ignominy

Oh, The History
Tonight in South Philly, against a New Orleans Pelicans team that has been utterly devastated by injury and was somehow even more anonymous than the Sixers, the home team got Win Number Ten. And with that, they avoid tying the worst record in NBA history, which is also something owned by this franchise. The 12-game losing streak is done, and they can play the last few games free and easy. Hell, maybe even win two games in a row, given that the Knicks are also playing or no reason.

The final win total shouldn't really matter, of course, other than it totally does. This franchise really isn't very far away from competitive and intriguing -- just a hair of injury and lottery luck would honestly be nice -- and there are more than a few of these guys that will continue to be in the NBA, at least at some level. Ish Smith can be a tolerable PG2, and TJ McConnell can be someone's who cares PG3. Carl Landry played fantastic tonight, and should be some team's poor man's Mo Speights, even though he brings about as much defense as the real one. With a minute left tonight, fans chanted "M-V-P" at him, which is outstanding work, really. Robert Covington played good defense and rebounded, which was mature of him, given that he couldn't put the ball in the ocean. I don't know if he's a starter for a good team, but he's an NBA player. Nerlens Noel has had a very disappointing year, but he's still got worlds of potential as a deluxe defensive hammer, and he's still young enough to develop an offensive game that isn't just alley opp related. Jahlil Okafor does many things that 19 year olds can't usually do on an NBA court, and while I'm not sold on the idea that he's going to be a front-line guy for a good team because he's a defensive sieve, that kind of thing can be coached up.

Here's the thing about this year... as disappointing as it's been to live through Year Three of Absolute Tank, I still hold that there was no other path for this franchise to go that would have been any better. The last three years of NBA drafts have offered no better options than what they've taken. They haven't been burned in a trade; I'd still rather have the potential of Dario Saric than the utterly compromised Elfrid Payton. Other than missing on stuff like Kendall Marshall over a full year of Ish Smith, or failing to recognize that Tony Wroten was never going to get a clue regardless of coaching, there's just no other feasible way to go. Winning 30 games a year with Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young, or ten a year with Smith, Covington and Noel, is the easiest choice in a lifetime of choosing this laundry.

I'm glad they got Win #10, because they try too hard to be known as the worst team in NBA history. They honestly could have gotten it earlier than this; that loss in Denver last week was absurdly unlucky, and had they somehow snuck past the Warriors in that home loss, they'd still be smiling about it. This off-season, they bring in Saric, maybe finally see Joel Embiid, sign people hat other teams actually want, draft a few people, and become Actual Fun, rather than whatever this has been.

Oh, and a final point? As bad as this year has been, I can still look down on a bunch of teams. The Nets are worse. The Knicks are locked into Declining Carmelo and will never be any good. The Lakers have poisoned the well with this absurd year of Kobe, and it looks like D'Angelo Russell and Julian Randle have become compromised by the losing without plan. Sacramento is going to lose Boogie Cousins because they hired the worst possible coach. Phoenix has worse talent, honest. Denver is going to have to build around Emmanual Mudiay, a PG they could have had, and a PG that absolutely can not shoot, and will be as obviously a dead end as Payton really soon.

And next year?

There's going to be a lot more teams on this list.

(Please, dear God in Heaven, let there be a lot more teams on this list.)

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