76ers Making Great Strides During Dreadful Season

Posted: January 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

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We all knew it was coming. Many of us, including this blog, were in favor of it. That is, the 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers’ tank job. After a decade of toiling with mediocrity, the 76ers finally decided that they’d had enough. By shipping Jrue Holiday out of town last June, Philadelphia signaled a seismic shift in their organization’s future. But, who would have known that they would not only have set themselves up for a jam packed 2014 draft; but, they’d also find a young point guard in Michael Carter-Williams whose potential far outranges that of Holiday.

No, the 76ers are not going to the playoffs this year (although, in a brutal Eastern Conference, they still have a shot). After all, that was their plan all along. By dealing Holiday to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel and the Hornets’ first round pick in 2014 (top-5 protected), Philadelphia set themselves up for darkness in the present with the hopes of reaching championship auroras in the future.

Noel, who tore his ACL during his freshman campaign at Kentucky, was cleared to play on Wednesday by Dr. James Andrews. The team still might hold the center out for the remainder of the season just to be cautious. But, no one doubts the 6-11 youngster’s ability around the basket.

Carter Williams, meanwhile, has emerged as a force and likely Rookie of the Year during his first campaign in the City of Brotherly Love. His numbers (17 points, 7 assists, nearly 6 rebounds per game) are staggeringly better than Holiday even during his breakout 2012-2013 season. It’s MCW’s leadership and defensive ability that impresses scouts just as much as his offensive talent, which many considered below average heading into the draft.

14 has seen Turner improve in nearly every facet of his game. Finally “the guy,” Turner is averaging career highs in points (18.9), rebounds (6.3), minutes (36.2), and steals (1.0). There was a time as recently as last summer that some considered the 6’7 swingman expendable. Now, he should be thought of as part of a significant core for a team on the rise in the East. One also¬†cannot discount the impact that Thaddeus Young (career high 17.8 PPG) and his counterpart down low, Spencer Hawes (career highs in both points (14.3) and rebounds (8.6)) have had on the youngsters that surround them.

If Philadelphia is able to maintain their current spot in the lottery, they’ll be selecting 5th come June. At that spot, they will likely be able to grab a player like Julius Randle or Gary Harris. Of course, most consider the prizes of this year’s draft to be the trio of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Joel Embiid. The second half of the season will determine whether or not the 76ers will be in a position to grab one of those future stars. Philadelphia also possesses New Orleans’ first round pick, which would sit at 12th in the lottery if the season ended today.

At 12-25, the 76ers aren’t going to win a championship in 2014. They’re not entirely likely to compete for one next year, either. However, the leadership of head coach Brett Brown and GM Sam Hinkie have turned the tide on a once flagrant franchise. Gone are the days of despair at Wells Fargo Center. Instead, optimism rings true from the hardwood to the rafters. It may take a few years. But, these Philadelphia 76ers are on their way to the top.

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