The Sixers Are A Muddled Mess

Operation Tank Fest is going nowhere fast.

After two years of tanking, this is all the Sixers have to show for it so far.

After two years of tanking, this is all the Sixers have to show for it so far.

The 76ers owner gave a state of the team address the other night, and one thing became perfectly clear to me: None of those fancy courses Josh Harris took at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School included Public Speaking 101. I’d love to think Harris knows what’s going on in his own organization, but I haven’t seen a Sixer that stiff since Shawn Bradley.

Everything else with the Sixers is a muddled mess. The team concluded its second year of Tank Fest with another 20-win season, which is supposed to be good news. Losing for two straight years was supposed to mine more talent from the NBA draft. And as Harris said – between the countless “uhs” and “you knows” – it takes about four really good players on the floor at the same time to field a championship caliber team.

So where are the Sixers right now? They have exactly ONE reliable player in their foundation: Center Nerlens Noel, who rebounded from a shaky NBA start to get into a Rookie of the Year conversation. The other semi-foundation player is 7-foot Joel Embiid, who sat an entire season with an injury, but delighted folks in YouTube videos with shooting displays prior to a game he wouldn’t play. Who knows about Embiid?

The remainders are folks who may or may not be bench players in the NBA, and maybe not even bench players on good NBA teams. There are no players wearing Sixers jerseys right now who one can pencil in as starters next season alongside Noel and Embiid.

And with all of this, the patience of the head coach seems to be wearing thin. A couple of hours after Harris’ manifesto, Brett Brown, the coach, indicated that he may be tired of coaching “gypsies” who come through a revolving door. In their quest to find SOMEONE who can actually play, the Sixers ran in 25 different players this season.

If Brown thinks that’s going to change next year, he may be delusional.
The Sixers are in a situation next year where they’re going to lose heavily again. They will get at least one premier draft pick this year – from their own bad record. That pick could be anywhere from the Number One pick in the draft (in which case they will be forced to take another big man since the top two rated players in the draft are Jahlil Okafor of Duke and Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky) to Number Six. If they are unfortunate enough to slide, that means they will miss on one of the two top rated point guards in the draft – DeAngelo Russell of Ohio State and Emmanuel Mudiay, a Texas kid who played professionally in China this year as a 19-year old.

Here’s the best of what can happen:

The Sixers get one of the first four picks in the draft, and also get the first round picks of the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, which the Sixers tentatively own. The Lakers pick is top five protected, meaning if in the lottery, the Lakers’ card is pulled out within the top five picks, they keep the pick and the Sixers would get it next year (when it is only top three protected). Same with the Heat. If Miami’s card is pulled after the first 10 are selected, the Sixers would get that pick this year. So, it is possible the Sixers get three primo draft picks, two of whom would likely be starters next year. And that’s not even counting Dario Saric, a player they drafted last year currently playing in Turkey. Saric has one more year on his contract overseas, but it is possible the Sixers can pry him loose for next year.

For you stat rats: the Sixers have a 17 percent chance of getting the Lakers pick and a 9 percent chance of getting the Heat pick. That’s not exactly encouraging.

Was it worth it, tearing everything down to build a new foundation? There are 10 ex-Sixers who will be competing in the forthcoming NBA playoffs. Would the Sixers have been a viable playoff team right now had they kept… ahh…what’s the use? That’s just torturing oneself?

Tune in next week when Josh Harris sorts all of that out in Elmer Fudd voice.

Follow Mike Missanelli on Twitter.