The Philadelphia 76ers have gone into one seriously epic swoon of late, recently dropping their 19th consecutive game at the hands of the Indiana Pacers by the score of 101-94, continuing their march towards NBA history for extended futility. The NBA record for consecutive losses is 26 by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers, a number in serious jeopardy.
The 76ers have basically given up, to no fault of the players. They simply do not have the talent at their disposal to win games at the NBA level after trading leading scorer Evan Turner to the Indiana Pacers at the trade deadline for scraps. The team also dealt center Spencer Hawes, leaving a barren roster squandering to make scores even respectable on a nightly basis. Philly has surrendered less than 100 points just one time during the 19 losses. Not a single loss has been by less than five points either.
Many teams were believed to be “tanking” heading into this NBA season with many general managers supposedly setting their sights on the loaded 2014 draft class featuring studs like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid, but no team has executed that strategy quite like the 76ers. Other bad teams this season have either underperformed, gotten injured or just are not very good.
Things have gotten so bad that Coach Brett Brown told Marc Naducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he has legitimate doubts about the team winning any games the rest of the way.
“All the time, I tell them that,” said a dejected Brown. “This is the truth.”
Talk about low confidence. A quick look at the upcoming schedule validates Brown’s claim. The 76ers have eight games left to avoid setting the record at 27, and the team’s next eight games are brutal. Six of the eight are against teams currently in playoff position, while the other two are against the monstrous yet underperforming Detroit Pistons and the New York Knicks, winners of five in a row fighting to make the playoffs. Thirteen of the 76ers’ remaining 17 games overall are against teams currently in the playoffs.
The loss to the Pacers brought some familiar faces back to the city of brotherly love. Besides Turner, former 76ers Andrew Bynum and Lavoy Allen made their returns. Turner and Bynum were supposed to anchor the next great 76ers team, but Philly’s acquisition of the center never worked out. Bynum never appeared in a game for the 76ers, resulting in Philly going the exact opposite direction in stocking up on draft picks and taking aim at the number one overall selection in this upcoming draft.
The 76ers have a couple of pieces in place for the future with stellar rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams making a splash in his first year, as well as rookie No. 6 overall pick Nerlens Noel who has yet to appear in a game as management has no need to rush his rehab of a torn ACL suffered last year at Kentucky. Forward Thaddeus Young has stepped forward as the only consistent offensive threat in the wake of all the trades. His future remains in flux due to an uncertain contract situation.
The Philadelphia 76ers are a virtual lock to acquire the dubious distinction of having the longest losing streak in NBA history. Their 19-game run of embarrassment has been a pathetic showing that should truly make new commissioner Adam Silver reconsider the draft lottery process. It is hard to fault the 76ers for doing what they are doing, but bringing in a potential superstar via the draft will be a big upgrade for a roster with no more than five guys capable of even being on an NBA roster.
Commentary by Justin Hussong