In a dismal season that has seen the Philadelphia 76ers fall apart, on Saturday they avoided complete collapse by defeating the Detroit Pistons in a rout. Prior to the game, Philadelphia stood one loss away from setting a new all-time losing streak record across all major North American sports leagues. With just about nothing left to play for–except maybe some pride–the Sixers put on a show in front of the home fans. And once it was clear that the streak would end, and once the cheers began to howl throughout the Wells Fargo Center, it became evident that at this point 76ers fans will take what they can get.
For a team that had not won a game since January 29, last night’s victory for the Sixers probably felt like they had removed the entire NBA from off their collective back, and hearing such a positive response from the crowd was most likely something of a shock. However, despite the rare celebratory moment for Philadelphia basketball this season, the state of the franchise remains the same. They do not have the talent to compete night in and night out against the likes of the watered down Eastern Conference, let alone the intensity of the Western elite.
Michael Carter-Williams appears to be a keeper and a player to build around for the future. He is a popular pick to win this season’s NBA Rookie of the Year award, and for good reason as he has been a key cog in moving the 76ers offense. Thaddeus Young has been a productive player for the past several seasons, but beyond those two players, the remaining three spots on the court are very fluid. Philadelphia’s front office hopes that they have a player in former college star Nerlens Noel, but he is yet to suit up in the NBA due to injury. With so many uncertainties surrounding the future of the franchise right now 76ers fans will take what they can get as far as a step in the right direction goes.
Unfortunately, because of the state of the team, the only excitement left for Sixers fans this season is hoping to secure a top pick in this year’s draft, and with only Milwaukee having a worse record, the probability is very high. Since the outset of the season college hoops stars, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, have received a ton of hype. It has been widely debated among basketball analysts as to which player is the better pick. It is thought that Parker, the freshman star forward from Duke, has a refined game that is more NBA ready at the moment. While Wiggins, the freshman phenom from Canada, is the more athletic and naturally gifted of the two. Only time and NBA experience will determine which player will be the better pro, but it would do Philadelphia good to get their hands on either of the two budding stars. Though, there is the outside chance that Philadelphia opts for Wiggins’ skilled teammate, center Joel Embiid, provided they are not concerned about his injury history. No team wants to be caught drafting the next Greg Oden.
There are many tough decisions to be made in Philadelphia right now, all of which will have a large impact on the future direction of the franchise. If they do their homework and make the right choices in the next couple of years they could be well on their way to becoming a competitive organization once again. But at this point, the 76ers fans will take what they can get as long as they do not have to repeat this season all over again.
Commentary by Kalen Skalesky