Recently, I received the great opportunity to chat with one, Mr. Spike Eskin about our beloved Sixers. You might know Spike from CBSPhilly.com, 941 Sports Radio WIP, KYW News Radio, or his great Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast he does with Liberty Ballers blogger, Mike Levin. Bascially, Spike is everywhere and all about Philadelphia sports, especially our Sixers. With the recent tear they went on, I decided it was time to reach out to Mr. Eskin and poke his brain about some questions I had about the Sixers. Check this out below:
Drew: How fun has this first week of Sixers basketball been?
Spike: More fun before the Warriors game!
But overall, it’s been more fun than any of us have expected. I know there are people disappointed that they haven’t already lost 70 games, but it’s a long season and the rebuilding process is not a straight line. It would have been disappointing to not have flashes of play to give you optimism.
The Sixers came into the year with a bunch of a players and a coach that no one had the book on. As it turned out, it was a pretty decent book.
Drew: How much of this early success do you believe is a reality? Do we actually have a half decent team or is everyone overreacting?
Spike: Everyone is overreacting.
I think the problem is that there was so much talk about the Sixers winning eight or nine games, that it sort of skewed the vision that you should have about the team. They are still likely to lose a ton of games, unless somehow they end up shooting 50% from the field with a bunch of guys who shoot 40%. In that case, let’s just chalk it up to awesome.
That vision of the Sixers winning eight games was mostly hyperbole. Just like most of the league hadn’t seen a ton of NBA tape on Tony Wroten, James Anderson and Michael Carter-Williams, neither had writers or fans. I never said that fewer than ten wins was out of the question, but it’s sort of a hard thing to predict with a bunch of players you’ve never seen on the court.
Drew: Do you think the insane amount of “tanking” talk before the season actually motivated the players even more to go out and prove everyone wrong?
Spike: Perhaps a little, but I don’t think that lasts longer than the first couple of games.
These guys are competitive, and many of the much younger guys are not used to losing, coming from winning college and high school programs. These guys do not want to hear about how bad they suck, and how they’re going to be the suckiest team who will ever suck.
But once the season gets going, that sort of motivational stuff goes away I’d think.
Drew: Turner, Hawes, Young. Do you see any of them being on the team next season?
Spike: I’d say Turner and Hawes are very unlikely to be here next year, and Thaddeus Young is at least a reasonable possibility.
The problem with Turner and Hawes isn’t that they’re bad players per se, and they may both be better than we’ve even seen. But in the case of the latter, that would mean they’d both be worth $10+ million per year. I just don’t think those guys at that number are more valuable than what you’d be able to trade them for. Especially when you don’t know what position your best player is going to be at. If you end up with a potentially dominant wing player as your best player, Turner no longer fits in the role he’d like to play.
Drew: How much of a factor does Brett Brown’s coaching play with the early success? Can he get more out of his guys than their talent level says? (Like how Doug Collins brought the Sixers a game away from the ECF)
Spike: A lot, and yes.
It’s not rocket science. Everyone knows at this point that shots in the lane and three point shots (along with free throws) are the most efficient ways to score. We all know that instead of doing that under Collins, they shot as many long two point shots as anyone in the league. In simply watching the Sixers, without even looking at the score card, there appears to be a concerted effort to get into the lane, and a different sort of freedom as far as shooting from beyond the arc.
Now all of this is limited by the talent and ability of the players to get into the lane and shoot three point shots, but if you take more efficient shots, you can’t help but be a more efficient player.
Drew: Can Michael Carter-Williams be a star in this league?
Spike: No idea. I really don’t know. He certainly has a rare physical skill set that would put him in position to do so. He’s also so young, and still so raw.
I am more optimistic than I was a week ago, but if I wasn’t, I’d be a real a**hole.
Drew: Will Hinkie pull the trigger on a Turner/Hawes/Young deal if this team continues to win games, to increase the chances of losing?
Spike: Again, no idea.
My educated guess says that his move would be to get the best possible deal in exchange for them, regardless of whether the team may win a few more games with them here. If he was *most* concerned with losing games at every opportunity, neither of them would be here in the first place.
There is a probably a happy medium between the two desires (to lose and to get assets in return), but it’s hard to know exactly what that is. I think with a few losses like the Golden State one, we’ll all worry less about this particular thing.
Drew: How long before this team becomes a contender?
Spike: Somewhere between a week and five years.
Sam Hinkie told us last week that he does not operate on that sort of a schedule. In that he can’t tell you when the team will win 50 or 60 games, because it’s only possible to know how he’ll make his decisions, rather than the results of them.
His best comparison was to blackjack. You know the *right* way to play blackjack. There is a specific set of rules that tells you “if you do this and this, you will have the best chance to win.” But even following those rules, you don’t have any guarantee or realistic expectation of exactly how successful it will be over a short time frame. All you can do is keep following the rules and trust in the process. Over a long enough timeline, continuing to make decisions like the ones you believe in, should work out. Houston is a great example of this. They were trusting so much in the process, and failing so often even though they were making fair decisions, Morey could have lost his job.
It’s true that if the dealer is showing a 6, and you have a 17 and you hit, you could still win. It’s also possible that if the dealer is showing a 6, and you have a 17 and you stay, you could still lose. But we all know what the right decision is.
Drew: Prediction of the Sixers final record?
Spike: I’m going to stick with my 18-64 prediction, if for no other reason than it was considered sort of optimistic in the first place.
Great stuff from Spike Eskin! Thanks to him again for taking the time to talk with me. Go Sixers!
Follow Spike on Twitter: @SpikeEskin
Follow Drew on Twitter: @Dcorrigan50