Post first appeared on phillyinfluencer.com on Aug. 22, 2016.
Earlier this week fellow Philly Influencer newbie Tom Byrne opined about how the future for the Philadelphia 76ers is now, starting with the first glimpse of Joel Embiid in the preseason leading right into the the regular season, which begins on Oct. 26.
As much as the fan base, myself included, would love for Byrne to be correct, the future is still in the distance.
Yes, this year is the closest the Sixers will be to the team that Sam Hinkie envisioned over the last few years of the biggest tank in NBA history. Actually, the rebuild is going just as he planned, with one difference, he would still be there.
Whether you believe Hinkie died for our sins or not, this is a new, exciting era for the Sixers.
Heading into the 2016-17 season, there is more optimism and intrigue surrounding the organization than there has been since the mid-2000’s. The high spirits are certainly warranted, but don’t get your hopes too high.
Many, myself included, believe that the future is bright for the Sixers. However, the height of the future, or at least, the everyday reality of what it will be in the NBA will not be known until at least the 2017-18 season, at the earliest.
There are a lot of new shiny toys for head coach Brett Brown to utilize and fans to be dazzled by. This is the rookie season for Embiid, Dario Saric, and Ben Simmons. This is the first time that those three will be playing together with Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, who don’t have enough “NBA experience” yet to be able to take someone under their wing. The arrival of these players on the court will get the team on national television for the first time since the 2012-13 season and will get fans to occupy a few more seats in the Wells Fargo Center during games. However, the success won’t be overwhelming this season.
At best, the Sixers’ season goes as many of the ones did pre-tank; 38-44, No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Now a near 40-win season is certainly progress in the right direction, but I hope that is not the ceiling for this group because the tank was not worth it, and honestly, I’m still not completely sold on it right now.
Sadly, I just don’t see how this team achieves any more than 40 wins. With everything Hinkie set up and new general manager Bryan Colangelo has done, they failed to land an established point guard to try and lead this team of young guns. Instead, the job was given to Jerryd Bayless. Bayless, who is a former first-round pick and averaged 10.4 points per game a year ago, but I believe in the grand scheme, the point guard position will take a step backward now with Ish Smith a member of the Detroit Pistons.
There still is a lot to watch for as this season goes along. If Simmons stays healthy, he will win Rookie of the Year. Plus, it is worth watching Saric adapt to the NBA game, and I’m still not sold that both Okafor and Noel remain on this team for the duration of the season.
I’m not trying to rain on the parade of those fans that say a 40-win season is good for this franchise and that it is not worth being excited right now as a member of the Sixers faithful. The Sixers are just still finishing up the rebuild. This is the year of obtaining team chemistry and cohesion. This is not a championship contender or even a team that can make the second round of the playoffs. The Sixers have transitioned from process to progress, but the end product is still at least one season away.