'30 Teams in 30 Days' 2015-2016 NBA Season Preview: #30, Philadelphia 76ers

By Rob Perez
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  • Odds to win the 2015-2016 NBA Championship: 350:1
  • 2014-2015 Record: 18-64 (missed playoffs).
    • 2015 Draft Results:
      • Jahlil Okafor, Duke University (3rd Overall)
      • Guillermo Hernangomez, Sevilla (35th overall)
      • Richaun Holmes, Bowling Green University (37th overall)
      • Arturas Gudaitis, Lithuania (47th overall)
      • J.P. Tokoto, University of North Carolina (58th overall)
      • Luka Mitrovic, Serbia (60th overall)
    • Key Offseason Additions: Gerald Wallace (lol)
    • Key Offseason Losses: None.
  • Projected Starting Lineup:
  • Player Salaries:

Total Team Salary: $50,017,241, 26th Highest. ($70,000,000 Cap)

  • Season in Review:
  • The Good: You’re not going to believe this, but, there was actually some good that came from one of the franchise’s worst campaigns ever: the development of Robert Covington. In his first season as a 76er, the second-year player was inserted into the starting lineup 49 times and posted an impressive 17.4 Points Per Game while shooting ~40% from three-point land, averaging 6.4 attempts per game. That 40% number is no fluke — this guy can absolutely shoot the lights out. Most importantly: he has become an efficient professional basketball player who will be in the league for a long long time, evident by Covington (alongside Nerlens Noel) being the only player(s) on the entire Philadelphia 76ers roster who posted a positive box score +/- (0.2) and V(alue)O(ver)R(eplacement)P(layer) per 100 possessions: +1.1.
  • The Bad: Where do you even start with this team? You could literally write a thesis on this. Scoring a pathetic average of 92 points per game, ranking second-to-last in average point differential per game (-9.0), and allowing their opponents to shoot a 46% average from the field – this 76ers squad was at the bottom of the league in just about every major statistic for a reason. They played absolutely zero defense, lack any legitimate talent and/or soul.
  • The Ugly: Joel Embiid. Let’s face it: this failed. Horribly. He recently had surgery on his chronically-injured foot for the second time in two years, and will once again miss the entire season. Embiid has not played in a single NBA regular season game since being drafted third overall in 2014, and will collect more than $9 million worth of salary in compensation. Everyone knows the 76ers have been tanking for several years straight now, and part of the reason why fans don’t riot/boycott the games and/or demand free ticket pricing is because they know there is a strategy here – bottom out as many times as necessary to get to the top of the draft, stock up on Top 3 picks, and then open up the books for free agents once you’re ready to roll. The foundation of Sam Hinkie’s #TrustTheSystem plan was Joel, who has/had all the makings of the next dominant NBA center. Even though it’s still early in his career, it’s hard to believe that Joel isn’t on pace to be this generation’s Greg Oden – which makes us wonder if these past three years have been a complete waste of time…
  • Baseless God Wob

This portion of the preview will be designated to me ranting – both good and bad. The nickname “Baseless God Wob” should speak for itself; think of ‘Clairvoyant Bill’ from Bill & Jalen’s Grantland NBA Preview, but: the complete opposite. These are opinions that are most-likely unjustified; it’s just me putting what I see on TV into words. Ok, now that we got that formality out of the way: can we talk about Sam Hinkie for a second? Does he have Scott O’Neil’s family locked in a Saw basement somewhere or something?

He is legitimately the best businessman in America, because other than Spencer Hawes being employed as a professional basketball player — I cannot fathom how someone can be paid millions of dollars to be this bad at their job. It’s not that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, it’s just the execution of it is atrociously abysmal.

I get it: the idea of “tanking” is actually really, really smart. I am the BIGGEST proponent of “who had the best season?” rankings going like this:

  • NBA Champion
  • Whoever gets the #1 pick in the draft
  • Everyone Else.

…because mediocrity is the purgatory of sports, and while the 76ers have absolutely no clue what they’re doing – it’s a heck of a lot better than being the franchise who sells their soul to win the 8 seed in the playoffs just to get annihilated by LeBron James in the first round (eh hem, Nets.)

Translation: if you’re going to swing for the fences, make sure you’re aiming for a ring — not finishing with a better regular season record than the Knicks. It may not seem like it right now, but, that’s the mindset of the 76ers. They are waiting for it all to come together before they make their move and start slinging stacks in free agency like they’re Antoine Walker at a Caesar’s Palace blackjack table. Did I just talk myself into believing in Sam Hinkie’s #TrustTheProcess movement? Ugh I think I just did.

At some point though, you have to, like, stop tanking and parlay all the years wasted into success. It’s kind of the way sports work. We’re now headed into Year 3 of Philly’s Tankapolooza, and I honestly think this franchise is still 2/3 years away from being relevant – let alone good.

I feel for the paying customers/season ticket holder/die-hard fans of the team. I really do. There has been so much potential the past couple of seasons in re: to scoring the first overall draft pick and/or developing one of these young guys into an all-star that you HAVE to keep coming back.

Sixers fans’ relationship with the team right now is the same as we all approach a bag of Oreos being held hostage by another person: “May I have one please? Only one I promise. Oh my god that was so good. Did I say I’d only eat one or two? I think I said two. Just one more. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’RE NOT GIVING ME ANOTHER. I SAID GIVE ME ANOTHER I DON’T CARE IF THEY’RE BAD FOR ME. F**k you dude, seriously…they’re just Oreos. Fine, I’ll wait until you’re done.” What’s going on in Philly is pretty much the sports equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome: They tank, they bottom out, they go for the #1 pick, they fail, they don’t sign anyone, wash rinse repeat for another season, and the fans ultimately come back for more because WE GOT A SHOT AT THE #1 PICK AGAIN THIS SUMMER THIS IS THE YEAR.

Long story short: whether it’s an injury, Hinkie pawning off legitimate veteran players for draft picks that he eventually cashes in for a warehouse of late second rounders — every time the Sixers take two steps forward and show a glimmer of hope, they always seem to take three steps back. When does it stop? How long can this go on? Is Hinkie about to trade Noel because his few decent players are big guys who only know how to press the square button? Put these fans out of their damn misery FFS.

  • 2015-2016 Season Projection:
    • 18-64 Record
    • 15th Place in East
    • No Playoffs
  • Fan Mindset, as told by Hollywood:
    • Paul Rudd, The 40 Year Old Virgin
  • Baseless God Wob’s 3 Divine Questions:
  • Do you start Okafor and Noel together?
  • Will the franchise pick up Embiid’s team option after the season? Or just give up on him completely/let him walk?
  • Is this the season the fans finally turn on Hinkie?
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