Hey sports fans! All is finally well in the city of brotherly love.
If you a Philadelphia sports fan, I get it, you haven’t had much to cheer about recently.
Personally, I was born just outside of Philly and my mom and her entire family are from there. I know what it is like to be in the shoes of a frustrated sports fan in Philadelphia. The Eagles haven’t won a playoff game since the 2008-2009 season. The Phillies have been the laughing stock in the NL East the last few years.
And the 76ers…
That’s a whole different story. Actually, one that I am going to tell you about in this blog. I will take you through what the 76ers’ organization and fans went through to get to the point they finally are at. Owner Sam Hinkie promised his fans more than four years ago that he had a plan.
I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.
This page will focus on the 76ers bright young talent and how they are positioned to make several runs at the Eastern Conference Finals and beyond for the next dozen or so years. It was hard to believe that I could be raving about a team that went 10-72 in 2015-2016.
Well buckle up folks, because that’s exactly what I’m going to do over the next few sections. Let’s begin with where the 76ers were just two seasons ago.
After a 19-63 record during the 2013-2014 campaign, it couldn’t get any worse, could it? 18-64 the next season made fans in Philly question if they should really be paying their hard-earned money to go games and support their team.
If they weren’t sure after that season, a despicable 10 wins and 72 losses during the 2015-2016 season certainly helped them make a decision. The way the 76ers were playing, the product they were putting out on the floor night in and night out just wasn’t acceptable by NBA standards.
A 1-21 start to the season and Sam Hinkie was left with no choice but to resign. It got so bad that days later the NBA had to step in and bring the respected Jerry Colangelo just to help mend the situation. It wasn’t just that the Sixers were losing games. They were downright not competitive and essentially just going through the motions.
By the time the season ended, what few fans stuck around to support their beloved teams were at a “wit’s end” at what to do. Fortunately for them, it was about to all turnaround. Winning 28 games the following season at least showed the fans the team was heading in the right direction.
Forget everything you read so far. All the talk about how embarrassing the 76ers were- throw it all out the window. This is the 2017-2018 NBA season and there are a couple new sheriffs in town.
Their names are Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Sports fans in Philly and 76ers fans around the globe- it’s time to get excited. Go ahead, jump around, crack open a cold beer, it’s all good in 76er’s land. Sam Hinkie told all of us to #trusttheprocess.
I have to admit: “tanking” and putting in the minimum effort to ensure the franchise would continue losing games in order to land high draft picks actually makes some sense. Lebron James was dominating the Eastern Conference, going the NBA Finals every single year.
I look at it like this. They could have played “mediocre ball” and have been an average team every single season. Or they could be the worst team in the league for a couple seasons only to suddenly being on the verge of becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference?
I’ll take the latter. As a fan, personally, I’m not too excited about a team that may or may not sneak into the 8th seed every year with no real shot at winning a series and advancing through the playoffs. Obviously I can’t speak on behalf of the players and coaches that were on the rosters during their dismal seasons, but as a fan who watched them play on ESPN against the Lakers the other night?
I loved what I saw. What did I see? What does the future look like for this young team? They will go as far as their ridiculously talented duo takes them. I am talking about the Australian rookie out of LSU and the second-year center from the University of Kansas. Philly is going to need to come up with some nicknames for these guys. Something tells me they’re going to stick around for a while and build something special in Philadelphia.
Let’s start with #21.
If you didn’t watch the 76ers play last season, I can’t really blame you. Let me fill you in-Joel Embiid was a star in the making. In 31 games, the rookie center averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks while only playing 25.4 minutes per game!
This year, he took a giant leap forward and is now squarely in the middle of the conversation for “best big-man in the league”. Don’t laugh and brush that comment act without taking the time to at least look at and consider the facts.
In his first full season in the league, the 76ers are still trying to hold the reigns in by playing him only 29.0 minutes per game. That isn’t stopping Joel from putting up gaudy numbers. The 7-footer is averaging 23.0 points, 11.2 rebounds 3.5 assists and 1.9 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. I know, that’s a lot of stats- but sorry. This guy fills up the stat sheet. He is shooting 51.6% from the field and has shown he has the ability to step out and knock down jump shots.
In the game I was just watching against the Lakers, he was 2-3 from the “the land of three”. There wasn’t one thing this guy didn’t do last night. A ridiculously silly line of 46 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 7 blocks was enough for me put this guy in the upper echelon of elite talents in the league.
Whether he is stepping out and hitting three-pointers or making post players look silly with his “dream shake”, Embiid has proven to me and the entire league that he is a star in the making. The 76ers are in really good hands with this guy leading the way.
Their other young stud playing lights out this season? He’s not too shabby either.
If you liked watching Magic Johnson play or enjoy his highlights, start watching this kid play. Ben Simmons is a “modern-day Magic” plain and simple. He is a 6’10” point guard with all sorts of skills. At just 21-years old, he is just barely scratching the surface.
You may be thinking 14 games is a bit small of a sample size to be making such comparisons. Here’s the thing. We haven’t seen a rookie come in and put up numbers like this since Magic donned the purple and gold in Los Angeles in 1979.
The rookie from Melbourne, Australia is averaging 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game, while shooting over 50% from the field. It’s not all offense. He is top-5 in the league in steals per game averaging 1.93 per contest.
It isn’t just the outlandish numbers on paper that he is putting up for coach Brett Brown and the 76ers. When I watch this dude play, it is clear as day that he is a star. A freakish athlete with point guard skills in a power forwards body.
Sounds like Magic Johnson doesn’t it. Don’t be surprised when you hear Ben Simmons’s name years down the road when people are talking about the best all-around guards to play basketball. He is that good ladies and gentlemen.
As gifted as Embiid and Simmons are, it’s still going to take some time to build this thing out. The good news is as 23 and 21-year old players, time is on their side. The Eastern Conference still belongs to Lebron James and the Cavs until some team steps up to the plate and takes the King down.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the team in Philadelphia is the squad that is able to do that in the next couple years. I haven’t even mentioned the first-overall pick of this year’s draft, Markelle Fultz. At only 19 years of age, 76ers’s General Manager Bryan Colangelo was goo-goo gah-gah over what he saw from Fultz in college.
The 6’4” guard from Maryland played only one season at the University of Washington, but that was enough for Colangelo and the Philadelphia organization to buy in. Unfortunately, an issue with Fultz’s right shoulder has prevented him from being able to play.
If I know one thing for certain- it’s that this franchise does not mind being patient and waiting it out. Rather than force the Markelle to play, they will allow him to take the time necessary to get completely healed up.
When this guy is 100% healthy and rejoins the team, watch out.
Speaking not from the point of view of a 76ers fan, but from the unbiased and respectful view of a basketball enthusiast, this team is going to be a force in the Eastern Conference over the next 10-15 seasons. If they can keep their young nucleus in place, it will only attract additional high-profile free agents during the off-seasons that want to come join in on the party that will be the Philadelphia 76ers ball club.
If you can find an online sports betting site or a sports book that is offering futures action on the 76ers for the next few seasons, hurry up and place a wager. I don’t expect the 76ers to be a real threat to win a title this season or perhaps the next. But three years from now, mark it down.
The 76ers will be contending for an NBA Championship. The motives behind the head-scratching moves that Sam Hinkie was making from 2013-2015 will all come to fruition.
Cheers to your 2021 NBA Champions, the Philadelphia 76ers!