There is no secret to the Philadelphia 76ers’ strategy this season. They went winless in February and are still looking for a win in March. These intended losses have been in Sam Hinkie’s blueprints since last summer when the decision to trade Jrue Holiday was made.
Tanking has a horrible connotation around the league, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes that no team is losing games on purpose. Therefore teams that are intending to sacrifice their season for a chance at a top-four pick, have to do it in a creative manner to avoid blatantly embarrassing their fans and the league. With that being said, the Sixers’ self-sabotage may go down as the greatest tank in NBA history.
The Sixers started off with a great trade to the New Orleans Pelicans. By getting rid of Holiday for an injured Nerlens Noel, the Sixers turned 82 games with a proven stud to zero games with a recovering rookie. This was critical factor in the tank formula.
The success the Sixers found early this season did not get blown out of proportion. Rookie Michael Carter-Williams came out stronger than expected, while Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes, and Evan Turner surprisingly picked up the loose slack. The three vets were then involved in every trade rumor discussed around the league ensuring future interests from other teams. By the time January rolled around, MCW was developing bad habits and Young was asking to be traded. To make winning even more difficult, the Sixers traded Lavory Allen, Hawes, and Turner for three second-round picks, two expiring contracts in Danny Granger and Earl Clark, and Henry Sims.
With Hawes, Turner, and Young out of the way Brett Brown is now able to fill the floor with unproven young guys and failed draft picks who can add to the on-court mess. Trading for Bryon Mullens really helps the tank. He was given an average of 27.2 minutes per-game when the Charlotte Bobcats went an unforgettable 7-59.
MCW chasing the Rookie of the Year trophy instead of worrying about defense is also aiding the process. As long as he’s trying to force plays and cheat away steals, he’s helping. MCW played much better in 2013 (8-11 record, 17.8 PPG, 7.5 APG, 5.5 RPG, 3.1 SPG, 41% FG, 31% 3FG) than he has played in 2014 (6-24 record, 16.5 PPG, 5.4 APG, 5.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 38% FG, 24% 3FG). These are the results when you enable a talented rookie to chase the ROY award rather than trying to win games.
The bench is loaded with young, inexperienced players who all realize the merciless franchise their working for. Change is the only guarantee right now.
The Sixers are even given an “exclusive opportunity” for fans to buy season tickets for 2014-2015 season: Get your tickets and you can have your picture taken in front of Iverson’s no. 3 banner, then Iverson will autograph that photo on a later date. This is an apology to all those loyal fans who just watch a season get thrown away. Bravo Philly.
Even Vegas placed the odds at 3:1 on the Sixers not winning another game all season, which is pretty startling considering what it would take for the Sixers to actually lose 36 straight games to end the season.
Nonetheless, if you look at the way things have gone thus far, it is certainly possible.
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