I've seen it written and heard it said loud and clear that the Sixers recent string of wins doesn't amount to much because of the quality of opponents they've played. Granted, the Sixers have played plenty of teams with bad records and missing parts, but how about some perspective for once.
Let's take a look at the Sixers last 11 wins, here are the teams they beat, and where:
- @ Houston
- vs. Toronto
- @ Charlotte
- vs. Milwaukee
- vs. Washington
- vs. Miami
- vs. L.A. Clippers
- vs. Dallas
- vs. Memphis
- vs. N.Y. Knicks
- @ Miami
Now, it's been said that stars win in the NBA. It's been beaten to death that superstars power the league, and you can't win without at least one. Take a look at the teams the Sixers have beaten in the past month again, and consider these names.
- Yao Ming
- Chris Bosh
- Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor
- Michael Redd
- Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison
- Dwyane Wade
- Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman
- Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard
- Zach Randloph
- Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion
All of the names I've listed above can be considered better than anyone on the Sixers current roster. Only the Memphis Grizzlies don't have a bonafide star who is considered a better player than Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala by the powers that be. The Sixers and their team of rag-tag pieces, and limited depth beat all of them.
It's easy for NBA writers to discount the achievements of this team because "they aren't playing anyone good," but honestly, when you look at the Sixers roster should you expect them to beat these teams? On paper, they might not be better than any of them. These are the same writers who predicted 21 wins for the Sixers
and a last-place finish in the East almost unanimously. Of course, these are also the same writers who deemed the Eastern Conference, much improved after an offseason which supposedly went a long way toward balancing the power in the NBA. How did that turn out?
The fact of the matter is that almost every single night the Sixers take the floor, they should lose, according to conventional wisdom. They're out-manned on paper against about 28 teams in this league. When Billy Beane accomplished something similar to this in baseball, Michael Lewis wrote a book about him
and he was deemed a genius. The Sixers have a very good shot at making the playoffs this season, and someone needs to take notice.
The Sixers now have something so many teams, even successful teams in this league lack, an identity. They're a young, aggressive, running team who isn't afraid to play defense. Maybe that identity is more important than the big names. Maybe team chemistry and work ethic is more important than endorsement deals. Maybe this is the beginning of a new era in Philadelphia basketball. Who knows? I do know this, however. I'd rather have a faceless franchise who goes out there to win every night than a petulant superstar eating up 1/3 of my cap space and worrying about nothing but his own numbers. I hope Ed Stefanski shares this point of view with me and keeps building this team on the foundation Mo Cheeks has laid over the past season and a half.