The Old Sixers/Celtics Rivalry is Just a Matter of Time ... and Hoarding
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The Flyers have their rivals: Rangers, Capitals, Penguins. The Phillies and Mets haven’t been the friendliest competitors. We Philadelphians live and breathe a deep and long hatred of the Dallas Cowboys. The only rivalry, in my lifetime, that could come remotely close to the Eagles/Cowboys was the Sixers/Celtics rivalry of the late 70s and 80s. Exhibit A:
I didn’t have ESPN to follow out-of-town games. Most people in Philly didn’t. I still knew the names from the clashes against the Sixers. Names like: Parrish, Bird, Archibald, Ainge, McHale, Greg Kite, Cornbread Maxwell, and so on. The Sixers/Celtics rivalry was one of the greatest in NBA, and in all of sports.
It’s been a while since both teams have been good at the same time. As a result, the rivalry kind of fizzled out. Sure, I will always hold a deep-seeded hatred of the Celtics, but that’s based on the past. However, that could change. Both of these teams are tanking a slow, calculated approach to rebuilding and are poised to improve simultaneously.
Somebody call A&E. The NBA Atlantic Division has a hoarding issue in Boston and Philadelphia that would make the actual hoarders on reality TV look like innocent pack-rats. What are they hoarding? Players and picks.
Think about this. Sam Hinkie and the Philadelphia 76ers have 3 players (Embiid, Stauskas, Saric) in their system from Top 12 players selected in the 2014 NBA Draft. For those without calculators, that’s 25% of the top 12 players selected last year are part of the Sixers franchise. That’s kind of insane. Granted, Embiid hasn’t played, Stauskas stunk on a bad team, and Saric is stuck in Europe for another year. It’s still insane. Add Noel from 2013 and Okafor from 2015 and the 76ers have 5 lottery selections from the past three years.
Danny Ainge, the GM of the Celtics, is doing a solid job of hoarding himself. The Celtics have 5 first round picks from the past three years as well, but only one of those is a lottery selection (Marcus Smart, 6th pick 2014). In this case, you have to figure that Hinkie’s garage has a bit more value than Ainge’s, based on potential. For comparison purposes, Toronto, New York, and Brooklyn each have only 2 first round players in their respective systems from the past three years.
This is just the beginning of the Hinkie and Ainge hoarding. Between 2016 and 2019, the Sixers have 8 more first round picks. That includes their own picks, 3 additional next year and one coming from Sacramento in the future. The Celtics have 9 first round picks coming their way in the next 4 years.
If we look at 2nd round picks, the hoarding is crazier. The 2nd round details gets a bit confusing so my math may be off. Tweet at me (@ViolationsGreg) if you know better. I used RealGM.com for this article. My calculations have the Sixers owning 8 second round picks between 2016-2019 and the Celtics having 6. That’s 31 Sixers and Celtics picks coming in the next four years.
Add a couple of free agent signings between the clubs and the Sixers and Celtics should be bad-ass in the near future, barring complete Ruben Amaro-like maneuvering. Bring it! Step aside Knicks, Raptors and Nets, this Atlantic Division is about to old-school real quick. I can’t wait to get to a meaningful Sixers game and BOO a strong Celtics rival.