Projected to be historically bad and seemingly lining themselves up to be a lottery team in June’s loaded NBA Draft, the Sixers responded by opening the season with wins over the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls as part of a 3-0 start. In addition, rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams drew comparisons to Magic Johnson after he scored 22 points to go along with 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds in his debut against the Heat.
Since then, the Sixers have come down back down to earth, losing 9 of their last 12. Eight of those defeats have featured the 7-6 giving up at least 106 points or more. Still, it could be worse.
The early start was nice and Carter-Williams, the 11th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, has continued to play well, but the nine losses in 12 games is probably closer to what they really are, not the three consecutive wins to open the season.
That’s the bad news. The good news for the Sixers is that it could be worse. Even at just 6-8, they’re merely a half-game out of first-place in what has been a dreadfully-poor Atlantic Division. Every team in the division, including the first-place Toronto Raptors, is under .500. Who knows how long the division-wide ineptitude will last, but for now, the Sixers are amazingly right in the thick of things.
The even-better news for the Sixers right now is that they are not the Nets, nor are they the Knicks.
The Sixers were expected to be counting ping pong balls this spring, The Nets, who are 3-10, losers of five straight games and dead-last in the Atlantic Division, were expected to be playing into May or even June thanks in part to a draft night trade that brought aging Hall of Fame-bound Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn.
Garnett and Pierce have looked their age, Deron Williams has been dealing with ankle problems since before training camp, surprise free agent signing Andrei Kirilenko and his back spasms continue to be an issue and rookie head coach Jason Kidd has looked overwhelmed at times.
This Nets team, complete with a $189 million payroll, is arguably and amazingly in a worse position than the Sixers, who aren’t expected to do much this season anyway.
Another team the Sixers should be glad they aren’t is the Knicks, who are 3-9, losers of five straight and will end the month of November without a win at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are not at full-strength, namely with its defensive anchor, Tyson Chandler, not due back until December thanks to a small non-displaced fracture of the right fibula, Amar’e Stoudemire looks like a shell of what he used to be and the impending free agency of Carmelo Anthony is hanging over the team.
With each passing game, it appears the window for this group of Knicks to win a championship expired last season in Indiana in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Sixers may be in a bad way right now, but it could be worse.
Just ask the Nets and Knicks.
Josh Newman is a contributing scribe for Philadunkia.
You can follow him on Twitter @Joshua_Newman.
You can follow us on Twitter @philadunkia.