The Sixers Missing Link

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Jun 19, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Confetti surrounds the stage during the Golden State Warriors 2015 championship celebration at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers Missing Link

Let’s call it as it is. The Philadelphia 76ers have some good players in the pipeline. They have a bank vault filled with stashed players and draft picks for the future. The team has been losing the battle of the box office – fans are choosing to wait for signs of success before shelling out the money for tickets. In 2016, the team Sam Hinkie Hustle will kick in, and players from Europe, the injury list, and the first round of the 2016 NBA draft will arrive in numbers.

But so what?   The team and the president and team general manager have some passionate detractors, and the theme of that disbelief boils down to one thing – the team must put together a team that can win.  Eventually, the rubber MUST hit the pavement and the team will need to convert potential into production.   The plan on the drawing board will eventually need to be translated to the basketball court.

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Whether the trail to the promised land is a straight line, or if it is a curvy windy road through treacherous mountains, or its a slow boat around the world, the eventuality that the team will arrive in playoff caliber form is the universal translator.   Win, or start over.   Some see the path that chosen by the Sixers as a path of perpetual delay – one that keeps the promise of arrival in minds of the fans but continue to wander in the desert for forty years.  Some see the path as a tank job that is so obvious that they have gone to great lengths to attempt changing the way the NBA aids the less fortunate teams.

The most difficult part for a fan of a rebuilding team is the wait. Some players excel in one season. Some require two seasons. Some players do not turn it on until their second contract. Meanwhile, the fans’ optimism is drained out of them as they build their hopes each year on what might be, and struggle to find a soft landing as the floor disappears beneath them and the team is in one losing streak after another.

But there is an enclave of fans and sports writers who simply sees the Sixers as stacking the deck.  They are tossing the value of players in the past to receive value simultaneously.   Since the common wisdom is that the NBA draft, and even potential of players to achieve NBA stardom is so difficult to anticipate, they are simply increasing their odds through volume.  You’ve seen the strategy employed if you’ve ever played bingo.  Somewhere among that hall is that lady who has twelve cards lined up in front of her, and whose sole purpose is to scan twelve cards from the moment a letter and number are called.   No conversation, no breaks.  Even blinking happens rarely.  The key to success lies in playing more cards than any other player.

Okay.  So the Sixers are shooting more arrows than any other archer at the target.  Is it the right target?   Have these Sixers gone to such great lengths to succeed only to aim at the wrong goal?  What is the missing link to a playoff team?

What does that plan require?

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