By Brendan Shuff
That electric month for the 76ers that was January, seems like a distant memory if not a wet dream. 10 wins and 5 losses, the final record for the Sixers in the month of January. This was the team’s winningest month since January of 2012, and the 10 wins matches the teams total for the entire 2015-2016 NBA Season. Now everyone is familiar with the word “tank” in relations to today’s NBA, and the understanding that from the Sixers front office down, the team was tanking for the past 3 seasons. That being said, exceeding the teams total wins from the previous year by January 11th was no small feat, impressive.
Following the team’s 122-119 resurgent victory vs the Sacramento Kings, playoff discussions were rampant in the city, including mentions by Joel Embiid himself. The excitement of possibly grasping that playoff spot for the first time since the 2011-2012 season was all anyone could discuss. Then February 1st happened, the first loss in what would be a 5 game losing streak. A complete flip from the previous month, the Sixers are 3-6, with another 3 games left to close out the month.
Where are the Sixers now? Standing at 21 and 35 on the season, they’re 13th in the East and 5th in the draft lottery. Playoff talks have disappeared faster than Andrew Bynum’s career in Philly. To go along with the pile up of losses, the team announced (reluctantly) that Ben Simmons foot may not be fully healed. Simmons is scheduled to have another bone scan on Thursday. After a lot of rumors and excitement surrounding the possible return date of the teams 1st overall pick, it’s starting to seem like we won’t see him on the court until the 2017-2018 NBA Season.
With Embiid out with a knee injury and the news regarding Simmons “not so” healed foot, at least the Sixers are still reaping the benefits off Sam Hinkie’s future draft pick stashing habits (All Hail Hinkie). The 76ers have the possibility of obtaining the Lakers 1st round selection (top 3 protected), currently LA sits 3rd in the lottery. If this pick doesn’t convey in 2017 it will be unprotected in 2018. They also have the ability to swap first round picks with the Sacramento Kings, who currently sit 11th in the lottery. If their pick falls outside the top 10 it would go to Chicago. Early Monday morning we learned of the King/Pelicans trade that involved DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins. The trade swung doors wide open for the Sixers. With the exit of Boogie, the Kings might not win another game this season, making it possible for the Sixers to obtain a top 3 pick. This allows the front office to breath easy, without the lingering concern of their current draft position. On top of the possible swap in 2017, the Sixers also own the rights to the Kings 2019 1st round pick. This could very well end up being the top selection, but only time will tell here. If you want to stay up to date on the current standings in the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery, go over to www.tankathon.com.
Hopes are still high in the city and the future looks bright, very bright. We have all had to endure through a total of just 47 wins since 2013. It was tough, however the Sixers as an organization and more importantly, us the fans are so close to tasting the fruits of that labor. Joel Embiid has finally shown signs of what we all believe him to be, which is the GOAT. Players such as Saric, RoCo and T.J., are cementing themselves as role players for years to come. Best case scenario to finish out the season for this young team as a whole is to keep learning and building together under Coach Brett Brown. And most importantly to understand that this season will be looked at as a vital building block for what is the foundation of a future NBA Championship team.
The 2017-2018 NBA season is shaping up to be an exciting one for the Philadelphia 76ers. To go along with the very talented young players mentioned above, they’ll be adding a healthy Ben Simmons, the addition of at least 1 lottery selection (in what is said to be a very guard heavy draft). Until then, enjoy the ride that this young team is taking us on and in the end just Trust the Process.