By Jason Concepcion, Grantland.com
The Sixers got run over by the staggering, playoff-bound corpus of the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, 106-93. It’s exactly what happens to Philly most nights against most teams, be those teams playoff-bound, lottery-bound, animal, plant, or mineral. Philly is 18-58 with six games left, and if it reverse runs the table, our 2014-15 Sixers will be tied for the second-worst mark in their illustrious franchise history.
Which is why I’m picking Philly as my 2015-16 bandwagon team. Because, last time I checked, this is still America and there’s nothing more goddamn American than buying low and selling high. Climb aboard.
Let’s start by acknowledging that no one, not the gods above or the demons below, knows what the Sixers roster will look like next year. Twenty-five players have perspired while wearing a 76ers uniform this season, among them such legendary figures as Alexey Shved and JaVale McGee. All of that churn and all of those fluttering pages of 10-day contracts were created in service of a higher calling: Get stars or tank trying.
So why am I throwing my weathered steamer trunks of optimism on the Sixers bandwagon?
They’ve got picks. The 76ers’ natural-born Ping-Pong ball is slated to fall somewhere in the top six. They have the misbegotten Lakers’ top-five protected pick (top-three protected in 2016). With L.A. sitting on the fourth-worst record in the league, this pick has Sixers fans muttering prayers to the dark gods and making animal sacrifices. They have OKC’s first-round pick with top-18 protection. They have a top-10 protected pick from Miami. And they have five second-round picks.
I am not one of these slobbering Hinkieites flying the banner for analytical tanking. I think it’s fair to wonder if Hinkie really needed to drive the Sixers this far into the molten core of the Earth. That said, look at this dude:This is a guy whose corpse-like visage and milky-gray eyes scream, “ALL I DO IS WORK, AND THE ONLY LIGHT THAT TOUCHES MY FLESH COMES FROM COMPUTER SCREENS.”
Maybe Nerlens Noel is really good? He’s already a legit difference-maker on defense, with an all-encompassing wingspan, great timing, and be-anywhere speed. He leads all rookies in rebounds, blocks, and steals.