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, all the time

Okay, I'll bite - AI is legit, and the 76ers are rolling. I don't believe they are a legit threat to make the playoffs (they would have to go at least 15-6 down the stretch, which is still unrealistic), but they are building well.

Still, they don't have enough pieces to be a legit playoff team next season, either. They have AI (top-10 player, east), they have a solid PG in Miller (23 points, 8 assists, 2 TO), and decent role players in Dalembert and Korver. And that's it. They are overachieving right now when there is no pressure and other teams are underestimating them; that doesn't necessarily translate to playoff team next year.

Plus Billy King will find a way to mess the team up.

First, I'm not sure how much control Billy King even has at this point. Right now I think Larry Brown is sitting at the controls, and his sole motivation is to bury Isiah.

Second, a star, a solid PG, a defensive presence in the middle (shot blocker/rebounder), and an outside threat. How many teams in the east even have that much? Miami, Detroit, Toronto, Chicago...that's it.

Unless David Stern already sold the draft to the Sixers to get them to pull the trigger on the AI deal to deflect attention from the 'Melo fight, the Sixers aren't going to get Oden or Durant. But if they can use the three picks to get one guy to put into the rotation (I'll write about what that guy is going to need to do later on) They are a playoff team next year.

They may still be a playoff team this year. You said the Sixers needed to finish 15-6 to make the playoffs (I assume you meant 15-5, 39 wins to get in). That means you're assuming that either the Nets or Knicks are going to finish 11-9 (Sixers currently hold tiebreaker over both) or Orlando is going to finish 10-9. Do any of those teams strike you as above .500 teams? 38 or even 37 wins may get you in this year. That's still a huge hill to climb, but stranger things have happened.

Sorry, I meant 14-6 (15-6 was based on their record before this win); 38 is the magic number. Problem is they won't go 14-6.

Even worse, they will continue to be at least .500 or better the rest of this season. So their draft pick may be as high as #8-10 (Sonics range), which really limits their chances of picking up a useful player or a starter. They need someone better at SG, obviously. They also need a legit PF.

Not alot of teams may have what you said, but: Cleveland is better, and will be next season. Orlando will be better, too (especially if they get Vince Carter). Even if Orlando doesn't get VC, they will be a better team. If Charlotte gets VC (the second-most likely destination), they immediately become a team on the rise (inside-outside: Knight/Felton, Carter, Wallace, Okafor). Boston might have Oden/Durant plus Jefferson, Green and Pierce. DC will still have Butler and Arenas. Indy is perpetually .500 as long as Jermaine is there.

The 76ers are, at best, competing with the Knicks for the 8th spot next season. At worst, the Knicks jump up to a legit slightly better than .500 team, and the 76ers are lottery-bound by default, yet not bad enough to draft a legit player (the Sonic zone).

There are a lot of if's and's and but's in there. The fact of the matter is, the way the Sixers are playing right now, they're better than the 3 teams they're chasing for that 8th playoff spot. The way they've been playing since they got miller and smith, they're better than those teams.

Obviously they aren't as good as they've been playing these past six games, but the past 38 games? I'd say that's a large enough sample size.

They need to make improvements to be a threat to go deep in the playoffs, but getting to the playoffs? If they had this roster from day 1 of the season, they'd be there right now. You're banking on every other team in the East improving or at least staying where they are now, and the Sixers regressing.

That's completely possible with Billy King in charge, but I have to believe it won't happen.

By the way, you think Isiah would be interested in a Willie Green for David Lee trade?

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