Not that there was any doubt before the deadline, but with the trades of Center Spencer Hawes and Shooting Guard Evan Turner, the Sixers are officially in tank mode. The question is, should we be all right with teams
being so comfortable throwing away an entire season like this? Is it ok for a team run a bad team onto the court because they want to improve their draft position? The truth is, it doesn’t matter what we think of it, it is the only way for teams like the Sixers to improve in the current NBA.
As far as basketball goes, Philadelphia isn’t a top destination for talented players. While they may have had luck over the past few years attracting football, baseball, and hockey players to their city, with basketball it just isn’t the same. This is because in the current NBA, players only want to go where there are other good players. The problem is these middle of the road teams can never attain those star players to attract the top free agents in the first place. Only the worst of teams get the high picks to acquire top talent in the draft. Sure sometimes a Paul George or Damian Lillard fall a little and get picked up by decent teams to make them great teams, but that is a rarity.
For the most part, bad teams get good players in the draft, making them good enough to make the playoffs, but not good enough to compete. Then some of the middle teams fall off and they get the elite draft prospects, but their older talent has already left for greener pastures meaning they are just right back to where they started. Only the top free agent destinations remain at the top, with a couple exceptions here and there.
Before Sam Hinkie took over for the Sixers they were one of those teams stuck in the middle. They were never good enough to actually win something, but never bad enough to lose enough to get a top pick. Jrue Holliday and Andre Iguodala ensured they were always a playoff team, but they weren’t good enough to carry them deep into the playoffs. It was a hopeless situation.
What other course of action should they have taken? They couldn’t just wait it out for some star player to fall to them. That could have never happened. They see a window for next year, so they have capitalized. They are only looking out for their best interests, why should they care if the overall NBA product is a little worse because of it. Right now, they have two potential stars in PG Michael-Carter Williams and C Nerlens Noel, and a chance at two more star players with two lottery picks in next year’s draft.
If they can land someone like SF Andrew Wiggins or SF Jabari Parker, and use their overabundance of cap space to bring in some more talented players to put around their core of young players, this can be a great team. Throw in whomever they pick with their second lottery pick as well. They can even move up with that pick because of the stockpile of second round picks they acquired at the trade deadline. They are the weakest team right now, but in two years, they have the potential to be one of the best young teams in the NBA if they play their cards right. With a great core of young players they may be able to even entice players to come to Philly. They aren’t just acquirimg the one top draft prospect, they are getting a handful of them, and that is what is going to make the difference.
The Bucks will also have a high pick, but only one of them. Is drafting just Joel Embiid and putting him on the mediocre Bucks really going to make a difference? No, they will just be a little better than they were the year before. Again, good enough to take them out of the running for a future top three pick, but not good enough to win. Only by going into full tank mode over the course of a few years can these lesser teams become competitive.
This is the quickest way the Sixers saw to compete, and they should be commended for it, not criticized. If you can think of another way for middling teams to compete, I am all ears. Leave a comment in the comments section and I will start forwarding it to the owners of NBA teams to get you a job as a GM. It may not be pretty, it may not be what we consider to be sportsmanship, but it is the only feasible route for these tanking teams to take if they want to compete with the Super teams.