Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

The Sixers Aren’t That Bad

Posted on January 11, 2015 by Mike Brest
Michael Carter-Williams has shown glimpses of greatness for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Michael Carter-Williams is a double-double threat every night, but must improve his shooting consistency if he wants to be an NBA star .

Philadelphia 76ers’ owner Josh Harris changed the franchise forever on May 14th, 2013. That was the day he hired Sam Hinkie to be the team’s general manager. It didn’t take long for Hinkie to make a name for himself. His first bold move took place on draft day. He traded the only all-star on the team, Jrue Holiday, to the New Orleans Pelicans for a top-five protected first round draft pick for the next year and Nerlens Noel. Noel was in the mix to go number one overall before tearing his ACL during the college basketball season. Later in the draft, the Sixers used the eleventh pick to select point guard Michael Carter-Williams out of Syracuse University.

The 2013 76ers were just as bad as advertised under first year head coach Brett Brown. Philadelphia actually shocked the world, winning the team’s first three games, what were the odds of that? but it was all downhill from there. During the season, the 76ers tied the NBA record for most consecutive losses (26). Hinkie was busy on the day of the trade deadline. Center Spencer Hawes was sent to Cleveland, while center Lavoy Allen and guard Evan Turner were dealt to Indiana. Philadelphia received a couple players and draft picks in return. The 76ers finished the season 19-63 for the second worst record in the league.

The 2014 draft was vital for Sam Hinkie and the organization. The Sixers selected Kansas freshman Joel Embiid third overall. Embiid, a 7 foot Cameroon native, was expected to be the top pick before injuries ended his only season as a Jayhawk. Many analysts have called him a franchise changer, and he’s been compared to Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon. He has not played a game this season and in all likelihood, won’t. It’s the same route Noel took last year. With the Pelicans pick from the Holiday deal, they selected Elfrid Payton tenth overall. Philly immediately traded Payton to the Magic for their selection (which was two picks later) Dario Saric. Saric is only 20 years old and is currently playing in Turkey. He’s under contract for the next two seasons in Turkey. Saric has the skill set of a point guard even though he’s 6 foot 10. He’s able to push the ball in transition and is very versatile. Saric won Euroleague MVP for the month of November. He will be able to join the Sixers in 2016. In the second round of the draft the 76ers selected K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant, and Jordan McRae (once they made some trades).

Philadelphia’s season had a rocky beginning to say the least. They lost their first 17 games, tying the NBA record. Since then, they are 5-12. That doesn’t sound good at all, but it’s a win percentage of .294, in comparison to the .147 win percentage they have on the season. Two of their wins this season stand out. Philly was losing 69-46 midway through the third quarter against the Miami Heat. The Sixers fought back. They started getting loose balls and rebounds while outhustling Miami, and that’s why they ended up winning by 4. More recently, the Sixers were 0-14 at home and facing the Cavaliers. They were down 17 points and fought back the same way. Tony Wroten made the go-ahead layup with less than ten seconds left in the game. It was the team’s first win at home since last season.

The Philadelphia Sixers are 5-28 right now but there have been a number of bright spots. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams has played pretty well at times. This year he’s averaging 15 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds a game. He is a double double or triple double threat every night. The problem though, is the fact that he’s only shooting 37% from the field and is averaging 4.5 turnovers a game, which leads the league. Like all point guards, their job is a lot easier if defenders need to worry about them making a jump shot, but MCW can’t and that’s what he needs to work on.

After missing the entire 2013-2014 season, former Kentucky Wildcat star Nerlens Noel is getting a feel for the NBA.

After missing the entire 2013-2014 season, former Kentucky Wildcat star Nerlens Noel is getting a feel for the NBA.

Another bright spot for the dreadful team is Robert Covington. He was undrafted and barely played last year for the Houston Rockets. Covington spent most of the season in the NBA Developmental League. He ended up being named 2014 NBA D-League Rookie of the Year. The Tennessee State grad signed with the 76ers in November. He has played very well since joining the team, averaging 12 points a game and shooting 42% from 3-point land, good for best on the team. Covington has been more willing to put the ball on the floor and drive in recent games. If he continues to improve other aspects of his game, Covington will find himself with an important role on this team moving forward.

The University of Kentucky star Nerlens Noel has been exactly what everyone expected. He has been a force defensively, averaging about a block and a half a game. Even when he doesn’t block the ball, he alters the shot. The Sixers defense is significantly better when he’s on the court. Offensively, it’s a different story. Noel is averaging 8 points and 7 rebounds a game, but at times he’s looked lost down low. He’s a raw player with a lot to learn. Noel needs to bulk up and add some moves to his repertoire, but he’s shown a ton of potential.

The 76ers best scorer is shooting guard Tony Wroten. He’s averaging 17 points and 5 assists a game. Wroten has shown tremendous skills in terms of driving to the basket, but he can’t finish half the time. He is one of the best drivers in the game. Even though he can get to the basket, Wroten does not have great shot selection. During this season it’s become obvious that he needs the ball in his hands to play. Tony Wroten’s biggest downside is his shooting percentage, 40% from the field and only 26% from three. Wroten tends to settle for outside jumpers and that’s okay if he can make them consistently, and that’s what he needs to improve most of all.

Another Sixers player who has performed well this season is K.J. McDaniels. The small forward/shooting guard from Clemson fell in the draft because he’s small for the position. He measures 6 feet 6 inches tall with a wingspan a little less than 7 feet long. That length and his athleticism have helped him in the NBA. McDaniels has made improbable blocks and highflying dunks. He is always hustling and is a good defender. Although K.J. McDaniels has gone through some shooting slumps, he has made an impact in many ways. Like many of the players on the team, he can be a great player in this league if he gets a consistent jumper down.

The Philadelphia 76ers are a young team with a ton of potential. Most of these players’ careers are just beginning. They have played hard and look like a legitimate basketball team at some points. The Sixers need to improve their defense, which Brett Brown is preaching, and if they do, their win total will grow. As this season moves on, the players will hopefully continue to improve. Sam Hinkie will continue to make trades and no one is off limits. We’ll just need to wait and see what Hinkie has up his sleeves. With the current team, Joel Embiid, plus a top 3 pick in this year’s draft, the Sixers WILL make the playoffs next season.

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