The middle of the pack is the worst place to be in the NBA. You are not good enough to compete or attract the difference making free agents. However, you’re also not bad enough to get a high enough pick to draft a franchise changing talent. There is no escape from this cycle and the best you can hope for is getting slaughtered by the Heat as an 8-seed.
Just ask any Hawks fan about this cycle. They’ll let you know all about it.
Hinkie took the Sixers out of this cycle and made them historically bad and, at times, unwatchable. He did this in hopes that he can build something great in the same fashion that Sam Presti did with the Thunder.
Once they got Durant things did not immediately turn around for the Thunder. In 2008, the Thunder went from the fifth worst team in the league to the third worst team. That year they got the fourth overall pick and selected Russell Westbrook. Again, timing and luck really pay off in the NBA draft unlike any other sport. The Thunder then traded back into the first round to select Serge Ibaka.
Despite adding three of the best young stars in today’s NBA the Thunder continued to struggle. In 2009 the Thunder ended up with the third overall pick and selected James Harden. This final piece completed the Thunder’s rebuild and got them into the playoffs the following year. The Thunder had become the league’s most exciting young team with these four players and made it to the Finals just three years after the Harden pick. (Who they never should have traded, but that’s a whole nother issue.)
Realistically, there are four possible franchise-changing players in this draft: Andrew Wiggins, Jabri Parker, Joel Embiid, and Dante Exum. Any one of these players could be a future MVP or a Darko Milicic-like bust. That’s the risk of the draft. It all comes down to luck and the quality of your GM. The Sixers’ second pick will most likely be a ten where they will still be able to select a starting-caliber player like Gary Harris or Zack Lavine.
Add these two picks to a young core that includes Rookie of the Year winner Michael Carter-Williams and a potential defensive star in Noel, and we could be building something here.
Even with these four potential young stars, I do not expect the Sixers to make the playoffs next year. They could very well be picking in the top five again next year just like the Thunder did during their build. This might even be a best case scenario for the Sixers: a slower build will allow them to add another top draft pick to their young core and allow this young core to grow together.
Another factor helping the Sixers’ rebuild is their cap flexibility. Hinkie has completely cleared out the Sixers salary cap. The Sixers operated under the salary cap floor last year and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. This patience in free agency will allow for plenty of flexibility in the coming years to add a top free agent to this team when it is ready to compete.
The first step is over. We made it through the 2013 season and put ourselves in good position. Tuesday night’s lottery will be the next big step in moving toward a Thunder-like build. Getting the first pick would make this season completely worth it. The Sixers are going to need a lot of luck the next two years and there is no guarantee that this will work. But for the first time since AI was on the team there is legitimate hope. No more Elton Brand-like band aids and knowing that we have no chance at truly competing. We are fully committed to this rebuild. Last year we watched some of the worst basketball in NBA history and it may take a year or two of abysmal basketball to see this team turn again. But I would take slugging through a few awful basketball seasons every day for just the chance to build a champion. IN HINKIE WE TRUST.
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