1,2,3,4,5,Sixers! 10,9, 8, 76ers! No, 76 was not how much they lost by last night but they did come close that number in recent games. Last night they were able to keep the game close and only lost by 5. This was practically a win after losing by 45 to the Clippers on Friday and 43 to the Warriors on Sunday. But its not a secret that wins this season are not the main focus. I don't believe losing is ever what an Organization should strive for but I don't see a problem with letting young players devolop and building for the future.
The NBA is a league that demands star power in order to compete for championships. The 2008 Pistons are probably the only team in the last 30+ years to not be led by at least one future Hall of Famer. Despite the dismal season, the future actually looks bright in South Philly! They have several key pieces already on the roster in addition to some potetnially high draft picks in the upcoming draft.
Key Pieces on Roster
PG: Michael Carter Williams Age 22
MCW had his doubters when the Sixers selected him 11th overall in the 2013 draft. Critic's said he needed to add strength and his outside game was sub-par. But Hinkie and company believed that his elite length at the position and his Pure Point Guard ability far outweighed the negatives. And MCW is proving them right so far this season as he is currently the front runner for the 2014 Rookie of the year. Williams is currently first among all rookies in Points per Game (17.1), Rebounds Per game (5.4), Assists per game (6.5), Steals Per game (2.1) and Double Doubles (10).
Despite all of his success, he has struggled outside of the paint as he's shooting just 39.6% from the field and 29.6% from behind the arc. But its impossible to expect any rookie to be perfect. MCW is a floor general on the offensive side and his length and athleticism give him a chance to be an elite defender. Under the tutelage of coach Brett Brown MCW has the tools to become one of the elite PG in the league.
C: Nerlens Noel Age 19
Hinkie gambled when he traded All Star PG Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans in exchange for Noel and a future 1st round Pick (2014 top 5 protected). But Noel is the type of player that you take this kind of risk on. He is an explosive shot blocker and was starting to develop his offensive game when he suffered a ACL tare last February at Kentucky. He was the #1 recruit in the nation coming out of high school and if it wasn't for the injury Noel would have been the obvious choice to be selected #1 overall.
He still was the number 1 player on a lot of draft boards despite the injury! But luckily for the Sixers, he fell to #6 overall. If he was absolutely needed, it seems as though he could have returned to action by now, but there is no need to rush him. The 76ers have invested way to much into the 7-0 Center to bring him back even a second before he is beyond 100%. Noel is a game changer on the defensive side of the ball who makes any shooter think twice before taking a shot inside the paint. A man of his size with his athleticism is a very rare find in the NBA. If he can continue to develop a post game, he has the total package to become a dominant player.
F: Thaddeus Young Age 25
There is some speculation that Young may be moved at the deadline. He recently received a 5 year 43 million dollar deal and some think he should be moved to free up cap space. But I think it would be wise to hang onto Thad. He has been one of the main benefactors of the rebuilding as he has seen an increase in opportunities on the offensive side. The lanky lefty has taken full advantage as he is averaging a career high 17.1 PPG.
Young's athleticism is a nightmare for other 4's to handle. You add in the fact the he is a lefty and he can be a very difficult player to defend. Young would be the perfect compliment to Noel's inside presence. He's not a great 3 point shooter but defenders are forced to respect his jumper, so it creates a lot of space in the middle.
Potential Draft Picks
SG: Andrew Wiggins Age 18 (Projected top 3 pick)
The Sixers seem to be locked into a top 3 pick and should have a legitimate shot at either Wiggins or Parker. Wiggins came into the season as the #1 High School recruit and looked poised to be the number one pick in the draft. Despite some early season struggles at Kansas (he's only 18), he has displayed flashes of what scouts raved about. He is currently averaging 16.0 PPG
Wiggins may be listed as a SG but at 6'8" he could easily play the 3 or even 4. Plus the difference between a 2 and 3 in the NBA is marginally as they both are essentially wing players. Wiggins would give the Sixers an ELITE scorer who can score from any spot on the court. His incredible athleticism would make for some very exciting moments in the Wells Fargo Center. They have there big man and Point Guard in the draft last season, now they need their scorer!
SG: Rodney Hood Age 21 (Projected Lottery Pick)
Assuming the Pelicans don't fall apart down the stretch, the Sixers have a great chance of adding another lottery pick to their arsenal in the upcoming draft. So now that the Sixers have their athletic scorer, they could use a sniper from the outside. Duke SG Rodney Hood fits that description. He is currently 4th in the ACC shooting 45% from beyond the arc. Hood also posseses a nice mid-range game. He is thin but his 6'8" frame should allow him to add some strength down the road. He would be a perfect compliment on the wing to Wiggins who is more of a slasher.
Future Starting 5
PG: Michael Carter Williams 6'6" 185
SG: Rodney Hood 6'8" 180
SF: Andrew Wiggins 6'8" 200
PF: Thaduess Young 6'8" 230
C: Nerlens Noel 6'11" 228
Assuming the Sixers part ways with potential Free Agents Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, they would still have solid contributors off the bench in Lavoy Allen, Arnett Moultrie, James Anderson and Tony Wroten. A few years down the road, this could be a scary good starting 5. They have size, athleticism and shooting to go with a great floor general. Just be patient with the team's struggles right now. Because the future of the 76ers looks bright!