The 76ers season has gone pretty much according to plan. They’ve lost a lot of games, and based on their recent play, they stand to lose quite a few more before the end of the season.
It isn’t clear which of the current Sixers will still be around when the team eventually returns to the playoffs, but one player who most figure will stick is rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams. Through the first half of the season, MCW has been the best player in an amazingly weak rookie class, and has already earned two league Rookie of the Month awards. While his play has dropped off a bit of late – likely due to hitting the “rookie wall” – and there are some very noticeable holes in his game (most prominently his jump shot), MCW still looks like he could develop into one of the league’s best point guards.
My biggest concern is this: Will enduring all of this losing hurt his long-term development?
There have been instances where young players entering the league in losing situations, and they begin to view that as the norm. Sometimes these losing teams are home to veterans who have either decided to mail in their performances, or are only concerned with their own statistics. If these players are the role models that the young player has to look up to, it isn’t surprising that they begin to develop similar bad habits.
Thankfully, that doesn’t appear to be the case with the Sixers. Their veteran leaders like Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes still appear to be playing hard, and they were a part of a team that won a playoff series. The Sixers’ problems seem to be more centered around a lack of top-end players and only possessing a handful of players who legitimately belong on an NBA roster.
Still, when a team is struggling the way the Sixers have, even the best leaders can get a little frustrated. It would only be natural if the players begin to recognize that losing is inevitable, and they begin to lose intensity.
Hopefully, MCW learns the right lessons from this season, and goes on to point guard some very successful future Sixer teams. It’s just concerning that it might be a few years before all that happens, and MCW might be too set in his losing ways by the time that happens.