Sketching the 76ers: An Exercise in Patience


“Four for four” Philadelphia sports fans especially feel the pain in faithfully following each individual franchise. Well aware that the Philadelphia 76ers in particular have not won an NBA title since 1983, one needs to look beyond, to endure a 4-25 team and try to envision the ticket price as an investment in the future.

Stay the course, keep calm, listen to the fan-base, and read the experts…

In the Beginning, the People Spoke… 

David Aldridge has emphasized the need to appreciate and listen to the fans that have an understanding of rebuilding vs. remaining in NBA purgatory. Aldridge studied the Sixers from the bottom-up at the season’s start.

From the outset, David Aldridge paraphrased:

"“It took the Oklahoma City Thunder four seasons to win with Kevin Durant. It took the Washington Wizards four seasons to win with John Wall. It took the Toronto Raptors four seasons to win with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan…The [NBA] Draft is the only way to build….Unfortunately, it’s the longest way.”"

An Evolution Nonetheless…

Zach Lowe wrote about the psychological and habitual damages done to a team that plays consistently and conceptually bad by design. But even he came around to understanding the model as applied to Durant’s early career experience:

"“The Sixers,” Zach Lowe wrote, “don’t appear worried about [losing habits]. Firing away for a tanking Seattle team did no lasting damage to Kevin Durant’s game. The same is true for lots of other players who got to stretch their wings on awful teams. Philly management is confident that Brown will hold players accountable once they prove incapable of doing some particular basketball thing. Do it again, and you’re coming out…Philly believes that its players are mature enough to know their limits, take coaching, and adjust in kind. If they’re not, the Sixers will move them along.”"

We are Lucky to Have Brett Brown as Coach…

Many writers and hoop fans are also sensible enough to realize we have the right coach and the shabby record does not reflect his value. Brown comes from a nuanced Pitino-Popovich coaching tree but also has the international (Bos-tralian) basketball coaching experience. Brown is a very good coach and the 76ers are lucky to have him.

"Matt Moore states that, “Brett Brown is the man for this job.Few coaches survive rebuilding jobs. It’s emotionally and mentally taxing, it wears on your patience to constantly deal with players who simply don’t know what they’re doing yet, with the rest of the roster stacked essentially with “tryout” guys. Veteran teams don’t need cuddly bears, nor do they need disciplinarians, they need total pros. Younger teams need someone they can trust, who will focus on making them better, and who always has an eye on the greater picture. Brown has that.”"

The Cockeyed Optimism…

At the moment, one cannot really fault the Sixers for being calculating, because the plan is working, so far. Idealists that criticize the strategy are simply without imagination and creativity. It is very difficult trying to explain to people why it is important that the Sixers play hard and keep fan interest while losing games, but if you have lived in NBA purgatory for this long, you get it.

"Ethan Sherwood Strauss stated, “the Sixers have possibilities — mysterious possibilities, but possibilities. They have the reigning rookie of the year in Carter-Williams. They have the Euroleague player of the month of November in Saric, whenever he chooses to cross the ocean. They have two big men who probably would have gone first overall in their respective drafts if not for injury (Noel, Joel Embiid). They have highlight sensation K.J. McDaniels. Best of all, they’re bad enough to get another extremely high draft choice in 2015, plus they have the Heat’s first-round pick in 2015 and likely the biggest collection of second-round picks in NBA history. The present is despair, but the future is rich in potential.”"

If, in four years, the fans can sit and watch a contender, it will all have been plenty worth it.