Mid-Season: More Questions Than Answers

76ersaltlogoAfter an embarrassing 35 point blowout loss in their MLK Day matinee with the Wizards, the 76ers have now lost two straight games.  Still, they are 3-4 in their last seven contests, which given the current roster is a respectable stretch of play.  They are now halfway through (8-33) their 2nd season of…call it tanking or rebuilding, whichever you prefer…and trying to measure success or failure at this point has become a difficult task.

What we are watching both on and off-the-court is something, but what is it?  The reason it’s happening is understandable.  We can all agree that something drastic had to be done after the Bynum fiasco.  Honestly though, who could have predicted that Vucevic would be a better player than Bynum and that the entire 2012 off-season would set the team back at least 5 years?

With all the support and skepticism of Sam Hinkie as well as the 76ers organization, the important questions have not been asked or answered by anyone.  So at the halfway point of the second season under Hinkie’s master plan, Philadunkia scribes C. Smith and Steve Toll will look at six tough questions Sixers fans could be asking in the near future.


1.  Was Brett Brown the correct hire last year?  

C. Smith:  Was Brown the correct hire for the process that Sam Hinkie designed for his first two years as the GM of the Sixers? Absolutely!  Brown is an extremely positive, upbeat guy who is “all in” with the players and is engaging to the media and fans.  He spent years in the Spurs organization, arguably the best run franchise in the NBA, so he has a championship background.  Brown also has a solid reputation as a guy who loves to (and can) develop players.  Finally, Brown has a great deal of experience on the international basketball scene, something this organization has been seriously lacking for years.  To be honest, Hinkie could not have picked a better front man for the tanking years.  Plus who else was going to take the job?

Now, is he a coach that can lead this team out of the NBA cellar and into “contender” status?  I have serious doubts, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Steve Toll:  As the great warrior philosopher Herman Edwards once said, Herm Edwards You Play To Win.  Furthermore, it has always been my opinion that the most important part of being a (insert adjective) coach is directly related to having (insert adjective) players.  Even if you take that all out of the equation, does anyone think that the Hawks, Bucks or Celtics would trade their coaches for Brett Brown? Hinkie would probably say something absurd if asked this question like “trust the process”.

2.  Was selecting Noel and MCW the right Lottery picks at the 2013 Draft?

Steve Toll:  No.  “The Greek Freak” and Rudy Gobert were the guys that Hinkie should have picked (See player comparison here.). When those two guys are making All-Star teams in the future, Noel and MCW will not be.  I’m sure if Hinkie was asked if he made the right picks, he would say something absurd like “trust the process”.

C. Smith:  I am more than fine with Noel selection as long as he is going to be used properly in years to come.  Noel is a good shot blocker and a developing rebounder who as the Sixers move forward, should not be counted on for more than 12-14 points per night. Think poor man’s version of 2014-15 Dwight Howard and you have an idea of how I want to see Noel used offensively during his time as a 76er.  I simply don’t believe he will ever develop the offensive game to score 18-2o points a night in the NBA.  So #4’s hints for more touches after the Wizards debacle made me laugh.

I was not on board with the MCW pick on Draft night 2013 and I am still not happy that a PG who cannot shoot and turns the ball over too frequently is the face of the 76ers.  I have to agree with Steve here.  There were better options available and Giannis is at the top of the list.

3.  If your goal for the 2013-2014 season and 2014-15 season was to have the worst record in the NBA and your team ends up with the 2nd worst record both times, what is that called?

C. Smith:  A tragedy, I guess.  The fact that the Sixers did not finish with the worst record in the NBA after the 2013-14 season falls directly on Hinkie.  With solid veterans like Thad, Hawes and even “The Enigma” on the roster last year anyone could see that the Sixers were headed for 20 or so wins.  Hinkie kept those players in Philly too long and it cost the Sixers ping pong balls.

Prior to the start of this season all of the online “experts” and a number of NBA folks I spoke with had the Sixers slated for 10-12 wins and dead last in the NBA.  One NBA executive told me the Sixers’ roster was the “most offensively inept” collection of NBA players he had ever seen.  So the idea that the Knicks with Carmelo Anthony are out tanking this Sixers roster right now is a complete surprise to everyone and a tragic situation in Philadunkia nation.

Steve Toll:  Joshua Harris would call it success.  Sam Hinkie would call it something absurd like “trusting the process”.  I’m not sure what Brett Brown would call it because I always mute the TV when he talks because I hate his Boston accent.  The correct answer is any word that’s meaning is akin to failure.

4.  Were Joel Embiid and Dario Saric the correct 2014 Lottery picks?

Steve Toll:  Joel Embiid is 7 months into his rehab/recovery for an injury/surgery that reportedly takes 4-6 months to fully heal from. He has reportedly cultivated mass to the tune of a 25% increase in total body weight since last season while also being known around the organization as a lazy malcontent.  Without a mentor of many years specifically there to guide him as he makes the transition from a kid from Africa to millionaire, I don’t exactly blame Embiid for all the negatives…Oh wait; Luc Richard Mbah a Moute can help guide Joel Embiid again.

As for Saric…What do you call an almost 21 year old 6’9, average athlete with T-Rex arms, a 50 TS% playing in Europe, not known for defense, but has good court vision?  I don’t know exactly but something like a 6’9 Evan Turner feels right.

C. Smith:  I loved the Embiid pick last June and I still love it today.  My enthusiasm for the start of his 76ers career has been dampened slightly by reports (and of course a refute of those reports) that he is grossly overweight and has a poor attitude, but not to the point where I am even close to regretting his selection by Hinkie.

In June 2014, I detested the Saric pick as I wanted a SG or PG for this 76ers roster, but now that I have seen this rookie class play for 40+ games, I am not as angry. Outside of Wiggins (who was already off the board) not one of the point guards or shooting guards taken in the 2014 Draft has really impressed me.  Zach Lavine, Elfrid Payton and Marcus Smart (I wanted Smart for the Sixers.) have played decently, but none has shown any signs of being a franchise level player.

5.  Why are Nerlens Noel and MCW playing so many minutes per game?

C. Smith:  That’s a great question.  My guess is the answer is, to remain competitive each night.  However, if you are trying to lose games NOW and you want these kids healthy for future seasons, then a sit-down must be had between Hinkie and Brown because having Noel and MCW log all these minutes in a lost season makes zero sense at all for the long run.

Steve Toll:   Sam Hinkie once actually said to me, “a player only has so many steps he can take”.  He was referring to the wear and tear on an NBA player’s body.  As with many things in life, it’s easier said than done.

6.  Why should I root for the 76ers?

Steve Toll:  You shouldn’t.  They don’t deserve your fandom.  Become a fan of the NBA and enjoy watching other teams, heck just root for old 76ers players except ET. If at some point in the future, the team is successful…… jump back on the bandwagon.

C. Smith:  I’ll concede that it’s getting more difficult with each loss to root for the 76ers and Monday afternoon’s debacle in the nation’s capital was the low point for me this season.  Still, the 7-6 are as close to hosting a championship parade on Broad Street, as any other major professional sports franchise in this city.  So if I quit on the 76ers, in theory I have to find new teams in every professional sport.  Frankly, I don’t have time for that sh**. 


You can follow us on Twitter @philadunkia.

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