I don’t get what all the fuss is about.
The 76ers, who recently snapped a four-game home winning streak with a close loss to the Golden State Warriors, are playing their best basketball of the season, only to be blasted by some who’d rather see them lose all their games in order to get the highest draft pick possible.
Remember when Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told everyone to relax? This is kind of like that.
Currently at 12-41, the Sixers are just one game ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves and two games ahead of the New York Knicks, which currently sports the worst record in the league. So despite their improved play, they aren’t that far from where some fans want them.
You think Minnesota and New York will continue to lose? Think again. The Timberwolves have been playing better lately thanks to the return of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin, and that should continue as long as they’re healthy. And the Knicks? They play much better than their record shows when Carmelo Anthony plays. He could shut it down for the rest of the season after the All-Star Break, but nothing is set in stone yet. Both these teams should win at least 20 games assuming everyone stays healthy, keeping the Sixers in the running for the NBA’s worst record.
The only other team that can spoil the Sixers’ draft hopes is the Los Angeles Lakers, who are the worst team in the NBA since they lost Kobe Bryant for the season. At this point, the could be the favorite to finish with the league’s worst record, with 13 wins so far.
The Sixers, meanwhile, have nearly matched that win total since starting the season 0-17. So should we be concerned that they’ll shock the world with 25 or 30 wins? Of course not. They don’t have enough talent to do that well. Did we all of a sudden forget that they start JaKarr Sampson and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute?
Even if the Sixers continue the pace that they’ve set with a 12-24 record in their last 36 games, they’d reach 22 wins, much to the fans’ dismay. But why is that so bad? If they were to win that many games, wouldn’t that mean Brett Brown is proving he can get players to play hard-nosed defense? And wouldn’t that mean Sam Hinkie is proving his worth as a general manager by having drafted multiple second-round picks who play better than most rookies overall?
That doesn’t sound so bad to me. Sure, the Sixers could lose a chance at drafting first, but is that spot really so important? It should only be coveted when there’s a clear pick above the rest of the crop, and although Duke’s Jahlil Okafor is becoming this year’s favorite, he’s not considered can’t-miss, LeBron James-like. In the end, it still comes down to who you draft, not the number. Just ask the Timberwolves, who’ve had plenty of top-five picks, since trading Kevin Garnett. And by now, we should give Sam Hinkie the benefit of the doubt that he’ll pick a productive player after drafting last year’s Rookie of the Year and the surprise players from last June’s second round.
Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned that guy the Sixers drafted third overall in that same draft. Remember, this franchise is counting much more on Joel Embiid to turn it around than its upcoming draft pick, whoever it may be. And fans should be as well.
So just sit back and enjoy the last third of the season knowing the Sixers will still probably lose plenty of games, and even if they don’t, they’ll still have some things going for them.
In other words, relax.