Philadelphia 76ers: When will fans enjoy this team’s success?

Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

After years of begging for a competitive basketball team, Philadelphia finally has one. With a team well on its way to back-to-back 50+ win seasons, why cant we take a second and enjoy it?

The Philadelphia 76ers currently sit a game ahead of Boston at fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 32-17 record. Since 2011, the 76ers have finished a season with more than 40 wins exactly one time. Last season. This begs the question, when are we as fans going to stop splitting hairs and enjoy the team we have so desperately wanted for the last eight years?

In 2016, during one of the worst years any team has ever had, any 76ers fan in their right mind would have drooled over the plethora of young talent this team has to offer. We have Joel Embiid, two-time All-Star starter.  All-Star reserve lock Ben Simmons. Young support pieces including Landry Shamet, Jonah Bolden, Markelle Fultz and Zhaire Smith. Not to mention perennial All-NBA and All-Defense wing Jimmy Butler paired with the sharpshooting J.J. Redick.

Samuel Blake Hinkie. The man who gave us The Process. His time in Philadelphia will go down as one of the most nationally criticized, but locally revered periods in Philadelphia sports. Hinkie ultimately had one goal. He wanted, as much as fans did, to build a winning team. Did every pick hit perfectly? Not exactly, no. Was every trade a win? Not quite (trading away a young Nik Vucevic). But his plan wasn’t about perfection, it was about growth and potential.

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We as fans, we bought in hard on his plan. No national media source could tell us that we trusted in vein. “Trust the Process” simply became the 76ers battle cry. Since its inception, every single game, home or away, “Trust the Process” rang out in the stands. This city was dying for a contender.

Fast forward to 2019 and we have exactly that. Three seasons ago we won 10 games. This season we are in a fight for a top-three seed as a team that is going to be around 15 games over .500 headed into the All-Star break.

As a result of this perpetual losing, we have landed our two cornerstone pieces in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Two of the best 76ers to ever wear the uniform. Are either of them perfect players? Not yet. Ben can’t hit anything outside of five feet with consistency, and won’t even attempt a three. Does Jo turn the ball over too much?  Without question. These flaws are simply a part of growing into the NBA game. There is a reason the NBA is the the most competitive league on the planet.

For those of you who have made it down to the Wells Fargo Center this year, you will understand what I mean when the atmosphere in the arena just feels different. For the first time in years we go up against best teams in the league with the mindset that we can and should beat them. This team is close to being a dominant force in the league. So why does everybody want to dismantle the roster?

We as fans tend to focus too heavily on what our star players can’t do. There are self-proclaimed 76ers fans who need to see Ben Simmons off this roster. The whole world knows Ben Simmons has a jump shot that needs serious work. Despite that, he is averaging 16 points, 9.5 boards, and 8.3 assists per game.

Also. Sixers can make the Finals with their current roster. light

I understand the criticism of the shot. What I don’t understand the rationale behind trading former Rookie of the Year, and future perennial All-Star all because he won’t shoot a three. It’s time that we learn to appreciate what our 6-foot-10 point forward is capable of doing on a nightly basis against teams that come into the game knowing for a fact that he isn’t going to to shoot the ball. The best part? They still cant stop him.

There is no secret that this team is at least a year away from being a legitimate title contender. While that may upset some fans, it’s just the truth. Last year we were probably a year ahead of schedule. Just two seasons ago this team won 28 games. I consider last year a favorable anomaly. This year will be a success if the 76ers can produce a similar result to last season.

Would an Eastern Conference Finals appearance be nice? Quite obviously, yes. That being said, this season is most definitely not championship or bust. Next season shouldn’t be either. Now if there appears to be no growth between this season and next, there should be some conversation about moving some pieces around. But that is another conversation that we will have when it becomes necessary.

We as a fanbase should never become complacent with our current situation. It is our job to demand more from both players and ownership. With that being said, Joel was just named an All-Star starter, Ben is a likely All-Star lock and Jimmy Butler is a potential third. The last time Philadelphia had three All-Stars was 1987 (!!!!). This team is special, and they’re only going to get better come playoff time once we get our young pieces healthy.

How quickly we as fans have discarded the joy that Jimmy Butler’s step-back-game-winning daggers brought us. We were crowning him a king. Praising Elton Brand for bringing us our third star. Now after some national media speculation about a conversation with coach Brett Brown, we are trying to kick him out of the city faster than Bryan Colangelo.

Trending. 2019 NBA Mock Draft 4.0. light

I understand the fears surrounding Butler’s locker room persona, but there appears to be no friction with his teammates. We will not truly know the impact that Butler will bring until we reach the playoffs. He has the rest of the regular season and playoffs to prove to us as a fan base why we brought him here, but I have no doubt he will.

Last but not least, the Markelle Fultz situation. Does every fiber in my being want him to be healthy and on the floor? One-hundred percent. That being said, we as fans gave Ben and Jo all the time they needed to get back to full health. I would just ask that Fultz is given that same chance. From his short stints on the court, he has shown remarkable flashes of talent that could transform this team. Despite the cap hit, I firmly believe that he is worth the risk.

With a core of promising young talent including a sharpshooting Landry Shamet, a soon-to-be healthy Markelle Fultz and Zhaire Smith, there is a lot to look forward to when it comes to 76ers basketball. We need to truly give this team a chance to mesh, not rip it apart.

Next. 2018-19 NBA All-Star ballot. dark

In 2017, the 76ers welcomed us to “The Moment.” When are we going to take a step back and enjoy it?