Are the Sixers in the Tank?Added - Dec. 5, 2014 - Comments
As you look at the NBA standings, there is one thing that was constant from the beginning; after 17 games in the season, the Philadelphia 76ers had still not emerged victorious. In fact, they have very rarely even gotten close; this team has been outscored by more than 14 points per game, and even the most radical adjustments on the part of NBA oddsmakers have not help them put any money in the pocket of sportsbook customers, as they have covered the basketball pointspread a little more than 44% of the time. On Wednesday night they shocked everybody, or so it appears, by coming up with a win, and on the road no less, against the Minnesota Timberwolves. That helped them avoid tying the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets for the worst start in league annals.
So they get to celebrate for an evening. Still, they are very much on track to break a record for futility that was set by a previous Sixers squad, back in the 1972-73 season, when they went 9-73. And no one is foolish enough to think that getting one victory is a precursor to turning things around. Would it be surprising if we told you that this was all a part of the short-term strategy of this franchise? That is the suggestion on the part of many people who observe these things closely.
The Sixers might actually have some pretty good prospects for the future, but according to those people who have criticized them the most, what they are engaged in is a "tanking" strategy that they hope will put them in a position to get the top choice in the NBA Draft next summer. And there are some people, including the man who helped guide this team to its last NBA Finals' appearance, who don't think such a thing is fair to the fans. Larry Brown, who is currently the coach at SMU, has said, in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, "What they are doing to that city to me is mind-boggling. That's the greatest basketball city in the world with its fans and you want them to sit back and watch you lose."
Even though leading scorer Troy Wroten (who?) has been sitting out with a sprained knee, the 76ers do indeed possess some assets. One of them is Michael Carter-Williams, a big (6'7") point guard who won the Rookie of the Year award last season; Nerlens Noel, a shot-blocking machine from Kentucky who has dealt with severe knee problems, and Joel Embiid, another big-time shot-swatter who played at Kansas last season and was the #3 pick in this year's draft (and is injured). They also have head coach Brett Brown, who spent a lot of years learning how to win as an assistant to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. But now, as a service to the future, it appears he is in the process of learning how to lose.....a lot.