Let me start off by saying this; I have watched every Sixers game this season. In a season that has been mostly about rooting for the Sixers to lose, it is tough sometimes to convince myself that it is worth tuning in, considering I pretty much know the end result. However, each game I make sure I look for what is important: the potential. With the Sixers’ tank mode in full effect, it is hard to watch a game and actually hope for a victory or even get emotionally invested, knowing that a majority of the team that you are watching doesn’t have a future with the Sixers.
In the midst of a 26-game losing streak (tied for the longest in NBA history), it’s actually become comical to me that the national media is paying more attention to the Sixers than they did when they were one win away from playing in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011-12. Sportscenter went on a daily presentation about the Sixers losing streak, as if management didn’t set this up as part of a plan to land the number one pick in a draft that is going to be loaded.
Even if the Sixers do end up with two top ten picks, as expected, they still need to fill out a roster next season. Despite Sixers have shown flashes of potential at times, and Brett Brown is certainly laying down the groundwork for a promising future. The Sixers are among one of the youngest teams in the NBA, but one thing is for certain: most of these guys won’t be on the roster next year. At this point in the season, the Sixers are focusing heavily on identifying players they want to invest time – and money – in. They have had over 20 different guys play in a game for them this season as they tried to find any potential pieces for the future. Lets take a look at who should stay for this young Sixers squad.
Thaddeus Young is only 25 years old, yet he has become the leader and alphadog since the team moved Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes at the deadline. Young formally requested a trade a few months ago but he saw the trade deadline come and go with no change.
If Hinkie is being fair to Young, he will probably move him to a competitive team this off-season. At the same time, he may run into the same problems he did when he looked to move Young at the deadline. Young isn’t likely to fetch a first-round pick in a trade this off-season, and he has more value to the Sixers on the team than a second-round pick would. Young is under contract through the 2015-16 season, so the Sixers may decide to either hold onto him until they begin to see the turnaround that Hinkie’s analytics plan is expected to produce, or at least until they can get what they deem as a proper return for him. If Hinkie doesn’t get around to granting Young his ticket out of Philadelphia, he is certainly the type of player that I want back in Philadelphia.
Michael Carter-Williams is an obvious lock. Averaging 16.7 PPG, 6.3 APG and 6.1 RPG, MCW has the Rookie of the Year award all but locked up. Carter-Williams is having himself a tremendous rookie season, proving night after night that he is ready to step up and lead this team as soon as Thad Young inevitably leaves.
Nerlens Noel has yet to play in an NBA game, yet he is already one of the faces of the Sixers franchise. Brett Brown has said numerous times that he is using this season to completely redo Noel’s offensive game starting from the ground up. Noel is a beast on defense, averaging 4.4 blocks per game at Kentucky and will hopefully bring the defensive spark the Sixers have been looking for. The one-two punch of Carter-Williams to Noel next year is going to be a dangerous combination.
Tony Wroten – Henry Sims
Tony Wroten is as fun a player to watch as I’ve ever seen. While he doesn’t have the best control, he certainly has the moves to balance his game out. Wroten is listed at shooting guard, but as the Sixers begin to build more depth, the team will likely slide him into a Manu Ginobili-esque role, where he comes off the bench and has the ball in his hands a majority of the time. He averages 24 minutes off the bench and contributes 13.3 points per game, which At only 20 years old, the former first-round pick appears to have found a home in Philadelphia. I certainly see the Sixers holding on to Wroten and having a potential future sixth man of the year on their hands.
Henry Sims was acquired by Philadelphia in the trade deadline deal that sent Spencer Hawes to Cleveland. At times, Sims has shown that he certainly has NBA potential and can play with just about anyone. Averaging 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds a game with Philadelphia, “Sim City” appears to be making a strong case to remain with the team into the 2014-2015 campaign. With only one year of NBA experience under his belt, I can see him being a contributing backup center behind Noel next season.
With the season finally winding down and the 76ers exhausting almost every resource as far as trying to find young, cheap talent; one can start to get a faint picture of what some of the team might look like next season. Obviously the draft is where the most definitive opinion will be made on how the franchise went about the last calendar year. That being said, by shuffling new faces in and out of the lineup for the entire 84-game season, Sam Hinkie and company got their best look at as many players as possible and perhaps locked down a potential bench fixture or two in the process. All I can for certain is that this is a going to be a busy off-season for Brett Brown and the Sixers front office.