Philadelphia 76ers Will Not Rely Solely On 2016 NBA draft

Mar 9, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Team USA general manager Jerry Colangelo during a press conference at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at the Beverly Hilton. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Team USA general manager Jerry Colangelo during a press conference at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at the Beverly Hilton. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports /

There is more to the hopes of the Philadelphia 76ers than the 2016 NBA draft. There is young talent on this roster, talent that continues to develop and mature over time.

"R E S P E C T, Find out what it means to me, R E S P E C T – lyrics to song RESPECT by Aretha Franklin"

There is more talent in Philly than most realize. Well, more than most realize. But if you have been following the Sixer Sense (and we hope you have), we haven’t been fooled. We have been keeping track of the former Philadelphia 76ers who, despite not remaining on the Sixers roster, have been finding homes in the NBA and D-league or even internationally to continue pursuing their dream of an NBA career.

But what of the players who remain on the roster?  There is a well-spring of young, dedicated, and gifted young men on this NBA roster.  The only problem facing this Sixers team is the fact that almost the entire roster is too young and inexperienced to be hitting their NBA stride, or they are simply past their prime and are productive, but in a limited minutes per game sort of way.  Meanwhile, the struggles of holding onto a healthy roster through an 82 NBA game season has been one of the more difficult paths to find for this young team.  When the season began, the team had to apply for the NBA roster exemption to sign 16th man point guard Phil Pressey to the roster, while teammates like Carl Landry, Tony Wroten, Kendall Marshall, Nik Stauskas and Robert Covington had to nurse injuries of varying severity.

The season started off poorly for the Sixers, and analysts categorized that as a poor team with poorly trained talent.  It’s easy to simplify complicated issues into a simple and single cause and effect.  So the Philadelphia 76ers, battling youth, unfamiliarity, and injury, limped into the new NBA season only to find loss after loss.

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With that kind of a start, the team would have had every reason to curl up into a fetal position and just weather the storm.  But that’s not how it goes for a Brett Brown coached team, particularly when this Philadelphia 76ers head coach is armed to the teeth with basketball analytics and shot charts.   The team even measures player efforts, and has periodic feedback to each player based on their individual hustle in recent games.    That kind of effort is not something which is lost on the people that matter most – their opponents.  In fact, several noteworthy NBA players have been quoted on the efforts of the Philadelphia 76ers players:

James Harden is a Houston Rocket who has indirect influence on the Philadelphia 76ers. It was the deal of the century, which happened when current Philadelphia 76er president and general manager was still an assistant with the Houston Rockets, which changed the game of the NBA front office operations. In that deal, the Oklahoma City Thunder famously traded Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to the Rockets for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin and a trio of future draft picks, favoring the upside of Serge Ibaka and financial flexibility over re-signing Harden to a hefty extension.

Following that blockbuster, the Sixers scheduled an interview with eight year executive vice president of basketball operations for the Houston Rockets, Sam Hinkie. Many of those years were spent conserving cap space and hoarding assets in order to either sign a big-name free agent or make a trade for a superstar. In essence, the James Harden trade launched the career of Sam Hinkie.

And then there’s this noted statement by dwight howard:

You see, the word is getting around now in the NBA. Ignore the record, these Philadelphia 76ers are building a tempest which will take the NBA by storm in the 2016-2017 season. But if the struggle this year is the inherent long term development of young rookies, then what hope can the Sixers have of competing anytime soon? Well, there are several ways to build a winner, and for the first time, the Philadelphia 76ers are announcing that they will be shopping for talent when the NBA free agency begins.

If the Sixers are about to pursue free agents, there are a myriad of options available to them. At small forward, there will be Lebron James and Kevin Durant. At center, there will be Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard, and power forward you can point to Pau Gasol and Al Horford, at shooting guard you could consider DeMar DeRozen and Bradley Beal, and at point guard, a position of interest at the trade deadline, the team could move towards Mike Conley or Rajon Rondo.

Of course, there will be plenty of opportunities for the team to pursue players in trades, and perhaps that is the more fertile approach for the team.

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One star, one elite player, and the dynamics of this Sixers roster immediately takes on a different form.  As soon as the team signs a top 1-5 at one position, the pressure is taken off the players of the other four.  With a handful of first round picks, and a number of talented players who already have developed a great work ethic return to the team next season, this is virtually an ideal situation for an elite player seeking to earn a lot of cash as well as leave behind a legacy of a team which will win into the foreseeable future.

While some may scoff at the idea, those are the same persons who scoffed at the Sixers chance of getting Mike D’Antoni onboard as an assistant coach, or even executive Jerry Colangelo’s association with the team without an iron clad full authority of the team..   You see, Jerry Colangelo brings a persuasive voice with him to the Sixers organization.  His knowledge of who would achieve great things in a Sixers uniform next season should not be underestimated.  Free Agency is officially an option for the Philadelphia 76ers, and the rest of the NBA was just placed on notice.