After starting the season with three consecutive victories against the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, and Chichago Bulls, the Sixers inevitably came back to Earth last night with a twenty point loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Losses are part of the game, but the 76ers failed to resemble anything like the basketball team that pulled off three upset victories during the opening week of the season on Monday night.
The three upset victories to open the season have created a buzz surrounding this team and has resulted in a belief that the Sixers could be better than expected. Fans now seem hopeful that this team could make a playoff push, but when the team played horribly last night, the fans booed often and loud. Is it possible that the team we saw last night is the true identity of the 76ers?
Taking a look a the Sixers’ statistics in each of the three wins, the numbers show that this is a turnover prone team that has greatly surpassed their expected offensive output. The Sixers currently rank 23rd in the league averaging 19 turnovers per game. Offensively, the team is scoring 105 points per game on average while shooting 47%, but keep in mind that many of their points have come on transition opportunities which plays a role in the team shooting at such a high rate. When the game slows down and becomes a half-court game, the Sixers have struggled to score the basketball.
With these statistics in mind, it seems that the real version of the Sixers was the team that struggled in every aspect of the game against Golden State on Monday.
Now that we have seen both the good and the bad of this Sixers team, should fans cheer for the Sixers to win and put the Riggin’ for Wiggins plan on hold? Or should fans return to embracing this plan like they did prior to the start of the season?
For the sake of the argument, let’s say the Sixers manage to play well for the entire season and clinch a playoff birth somewhere between the 6th and 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. One of these lower seeds will surely set up a series with either Miami, Chicago, or Indiana depending on how the playoff seeding worked out.
If the Sixers made the playoffs, would they be able to pull off four playoff series upsets en route to winning a title? It’s hard to imagine that even the most die hard Sixers fan would truly believe that the Sixers could pull of such a feat.
This leaves tanking as the other option to take a look at. Currently, the Boston Celtics are on pace to finish with the worst record after starting the season 0-4. However, the Celtics are due to get Rajon Rondo back at some point during the season and with his presence in the lineup, Boston is bound to win some games. If the Sixers play like they did last night against the Warriors, they could manage fewer wins than Boston and have a good chance at one of the top two picks.
Normally, tanking is not always the best option since it involves taking a risk that a team’s draft pick will pan out to be a key contributor in the future. This year’s draft class is not a typical class of prospects. NBA scouts and executives believe that this will be the best draft class since the 2003 draft that featured Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony among others.
The two stand outs stars of this upcoming draft class are Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Both have the potential to be franchise altering talents in the future.
If the Sixers are able to select one of these two young stars, the team could have a core of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Evan Turner, and either Wiggins or Parker. That young core could have the potential to be develop into one of the best in the NBA.
Out of the two options discussed here, option two, which is fans embracing the idea of tanking, sounds like a better option in the long run.
The three exciting upset victories over the past week were great to see for this group of young guys and the city of Philadelphia, but in reality, the Sixers most likely will not have many more upset wins like those.
Now the idea of embracing the Riggin’ for Wiggins plan does not mean that fans should root against the Sixers and cheer for the opponents. This simply means that although the present season will be full of frustration, like last night, do not panic because the future of this team could be very bright if they are able to net a first or second overall pick.