For once, some good points are made when discussing the Sixers. More on that later.
The Daily News asked three of their basketball writers one simple question: When will the Sixers make the playoffs? Bob Cooney, Sam Donnellon, and John Smallwood actually gave rational, thought-out answers. Dick Jerardi did not. Here’s Jerardi’s opening graf, read best while ragtime piano and old black and white Wilt Chamberlain clips play in the background:
Never, if the Sam Hinkie/Ponzi scheme-like/play-it-forward mentality continues indefinitely. The investors (the fans who buy tickets and merchandise) have risked their money and loyalty on a future that may never have a payoff. It is quite possible everybody will look around in a few years, see a team that is no closer to the playoffs than this one and ask: What was that all about and how do I get my money back?
Hey Dick, fans risking “their money and loyalty on a future that may never have a payoff,”? That’s called sports. You work in it.
I don’t hate the theory of being in position to get a great player or two by accumulating draft picks and salary cap space. I do hate that it is only a theory with no guarantees that the team will ever get the right pick in the right year or that Hinkie will know the right player to pick or that a franchise-changing free agent will ever want to come here.
Agents talk. So do players. Right now, none of them is talking well of Hinkie or the Sixers. Hinkie can say he never uses the word “asset” to describe a player, but he is treating players exactly that way, disposable as old basketballs. If Hinkie actually does start to get really good players, how loyal will they be?
Ah, here we are again. Writers using exactly zero information to claim that people are shit-talking Sam Hinkie around the league and there is some kind of secret pact among veterans never to sign here. And let’s dispel the quip that Hinkie treats players like “old basketballs.” When he got here, he cleared house to build the team he wanted to build in the style he wanted to build it. Since then, most of his trades have been to acquire draft picks while giving up little or nothing in return.
I am a fan of analytics, but everything can’t be analyzed. Points per possession mean a lot more than points. Pace determines totals. Some shots are more efficient than others. Some players with big scoring totals may not be all that efficient. All of that should be considered.
I don’t even know what this is. “I’m a fan of analytics. Here are some analytics. All of those things should be considered analytics.”
Basketball, however, is the ultimate team game. It is not fantasy sports where you just try to assemble players that can put up numbers. Playing together and continuity really matter. There is no analysis needed to understand that.
It’s the ultimate team game where you cannot win without at least one superstar, and Brett Brown has already shown his ability to get the most out of players no one expected much from. Add a superstar to the mix with Brown involved, and good things may just happen.
Elsewhere, Bob Cooney says there are still too many “if”s to say when they’ll actually make the playoffs — a fair point. He’s worried about Embiid’s health, Noel and Embiid’s fit, and more. If things go right, he says, the Sixers can make a “serious run for a playoff spot in the 2016-17 season.”
Sam Donnellon compares Sam Hinkie to a full-time gambler in Vegas (which is right in some ways, and wrong in others) and agrees with Kyle that it’s all going to come down to the young Croatian Dario Saric.
And John Smallwood says we’re “realistically looking at the 2017-18 season before another playoff appearance,” based on the fact that no one other than Noel, Embiid, and Jerami Grant are “solid NBA rotation guys.”
Personally, knowing it will only take 35 wins or so to actually make the playoffs in the East, I think the Sixers could challenge for it next year. I don’t think they’ll make it, but they’ll be a lot closer to that dreaded middle-of-the-pack that they hope to not linger in. If Noel remains closer to his current form than his beggining-of-season production, Embiid is healthy, and whomever they draft this year contributes, I would not be shocked to see a 28-30 win season next year. And then, with top-5 draft picks (unless the Lakers fail) out of the question, it will be up to Sam Hinkie to really show what he can do.