Whenever a team challenges the 9-73 worst record ever in an NBA season there's always a pang of embarrassment. The Sixers set that mark before I was born, in a 17-team league led by the 68-win Celtics. They set that mark in a time when trying to lose never entered the conversation, in a time when wins were a more valuable commodity than second round draft picks and accumulated lottery balls. That team was better than this team, in fact, every team that's ever set foot on an NBA floor was better than the team Sam Hinkie is currently suiting up every night. Whether you think what he's done is good, bad or inconsequential, the Sixers have moved the bar.
Time will eventually judge the dregs left on this team. Michael Carter-Williams could figure things out, Hollis Thompson could go on to be a valuable asset off the bench for a contender, Nerlens Noel may refine his game in his year of rest of relaxation to the point where he's a perennial DPOY candidate. The product they're putting on the floor, right now, however doesn't have a single shred of exceptional talent. They only have one above average player, and it's debatable whether Thad is really a starter in the league.
Here's the talent pyramid:
- Borderline NBA starters: Thad, MCW
- Over-the-hill former starter/injured rookie with potential: Richardson, Noel
- Borderline rotational NBA players: Hollis, Maynor
- Possibly belong in the NBA: James Anderson, Byron Mullens
- NBADL players, at best: Wroten, Moultrie, Sims, Williams, Davies, Brown
The optimist can look in there and see two building blocks and a decent young guy on a good contract. The deluded can say "Wroten's really going to turn into something!" or "Moultrie will show how great he is now that he's getting a shot!" But when you take a step back from stubborn fandom, you realize this team's best player is nothing more than a stop-gap starter on a contender and half the team doesn't belong in the league. Look back at the bad teams over the years. You won't find a less accomplished roster. You won't find a worse product put on the floor by an NBA franchise...ever.
In other words, the plan is working! Let's just cross our fingers that the rebuild works as well as the deconstruction did.
The Sixers host the Wizards tonight. If you're planning to watch, you're a better man than I. Enjoy.