The Philadelphia 76ers have had an extremely long year. Everything that could possibly have gone wrong went wrong.
Starting with the lottery, those unfriendly ping-pong balls allowed the Los Angeles Lakers the second pick, even though the Philadelphia 76ers’ record was worse. Okay, that’s just an unlucky break. With the third pick in the draft, Philadelphia selected Jahlil Okafor, and in doing so created probably the biggest issue of the entire season.
The Philadelphia 76ers now possessed two starting centers in Okafor and sophomore Nerlens Noel (and Joel Embiid, who has yet to play a game). This forced Noel to play out of position at power forward for the majority of the year, however later Okafor was experimentally switched to the four while Nerlens played center.
Both Okafor and Noel have been marred by injuries throughout the season. Okafor is out for the rest of the year with a small tear in his meniscus. Noel has had a knee contusion that has bothered him throughout the year, as well as numerous other injuries.
Their injuries have left the Philadelphia 76ers shorthanded at a normally log-jammed position. Richaun Holmes is the natural replacement for the two, but he has missed games to injury as well, and most recently due to a slight Achilles injury. This paucity at the center position had Carl Landry and Elton Brand see more minutes, and in the Sixers’ loss to the Nuggets on Wednesday, Jerami Grant even played at the five.
In another string of unlucky events, the Sixers cut JaKarr Sampson to make room for Joel Anthony in a trade-deadline move. The hope was to cut Anthony and resign Sampson, but the trade fell through and the Denver Nuggets claimed JaKarr off of waivers. Why not cut Elton Brand? Nobody would have claimed him. Instead, the Sixers lost a young talent and an always smiling face.
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Then the Sixers saw an extremely scary moment. As Jerami Grant was falling down, he inadvertently kicked Robert Covington in the neck/head area. Covington had to be taken off the court on a stretcher, and both he and Grant entered the NBA’s concussion protocol. Fortunately, both were okay, however, they left a team that desperately needed their positive contributions even more shorthanded.
Currently, Philadelphia is sitting on a seven-game losing streak, their last loss against the Nuggets coming in a thoroughly depressing fashion. The Sixers had the 103-101 lead when Emmanuel Mudiay hit a ridiculous game-winning shot from almost half court with 0.1 seconds left. Though another unlucky break for Philly, it is March, after all.
So, with ten games left in the 2015-2016 season, the Sixers probably won’t get another win. The rest of their schedule is tough, as they play the Portland Trailblazers, Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Hornets (twice), Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, and Chicago Bulls.
The only games the Sixers could see a glimmer of hope in would be the Knicks and Bucks games, however, it would still be extremely difficult to pull out a win.
If the Philadelphia 76ers end with nine wins, they will match their worst record in team history, held by the 1973 team. In a year in the rebuild where improvement should be expected, there has only been depreciation of team play. Individuals such as Jerami Grant or Jahlil Okafor have seen stand out seasons, but the performance of the team has been horrid overall. That can be attested to many things: bad luck, lose-lose situations, injuries, etc. But mostly, just because they’re the Sixers.