The Philadelphia 76ers are bad, and not in the Michael Jackson/Shaft way. The Sixers are now historically horrendous, on an NBA record-tying 26-game losing streak, but fans in the Illadelph are not publicly chastising Michael Carter-Williams or staging protests against Sam Hinkie outside the Wells Fargo Center. While they hang their heads in public, as in the picture above, the 76ers are smirking in private, the prospect of a too-bright future potentially awaiting. Elsewhere, Swaggy P is the victim of hubris, as so often happens, and don’t sleep on Dirk should the Mavs make the playoffs.
1. Tank City, Population – Philadelphia: With a 120-98 loss at the hands of the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, the Philadelphia 76ers have entered Cleveland’s hallowed territory of misery. Philadelphia has ground its way to a 26-game losing streak, tying an NBA record held by the post-Decision, pre-Kyrie 2010-’11 Cleveland Cavaliers. All the pomp of a surprisingly fast start to this season has evaporated, and the Sixers are left around the Knicks in terms of comedic value in the league. Consider these wildly telling tweets, courtesy of Basketball Insider Alex Kennedy:
The last tweet is particularly astounding and, for me, list-provoking.
An Entirely Incomplete List of Things That Have Happened Since the Philadelphia 76ers Won an NBA Game (January 29, 2014 against the Boston Celtics):
1. The entire XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia
2. Adam Silver succeeds David Stern as the NBA’s commissioner.
4. Super Bowl XLVIII
7. The 86th Academy Awards
8. Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 disappears, is found, is not found again
All of this, in addition to many, many other events. Based on this season alone, Philadelphia should be revolting and petitioning its city government for a new, actual basketball team. Every one of this franchise’s fans, however, has eyes pointed toward the future. With one and possibly two top-ten draft picks, as well as a host of second-rounders for use as trade bait, Sam Hinkie has played out this season to a tee, doing exactly what he needed to secure at least the opportunity for good fortune via the draft. Michael Carter-Williams is a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. Let’s also remember that we have yet to see Nerlens Noel play a single minute of professional basketball, and though he may not hit the 4-4-14 target of his ominous tweet from a few weeks ago, he nevertheless inspires hope. Potential only means so much until it is realized, of course, but the Sixers have an insane amount of it, and if they can cash in on even 75% of what people expected out of the individual players and picks in this collection, they may soon return to AI and Dr. J levels of prominence in the NBA.
2. Nick Young DGAF what you think about his three-ball, made or missed:
Granted, the Lakers beat the Knicks 127-96 in a game which featured a franchise-record 51-point quarter from Los Angeles, and Young made five other 3-point attempts en route to 20 points in the game, but still. I could watch this all day. There is nothing like overwhelming hubris receiving a crushing dose of reality, and for Swaggy P, these moments seem to drop a little more frequently than for others.
3. Dirk is still the Aryan king of the turnaround jumper, and his team isn’t so bad either: Because the world is a cold, unjust place in which eternal winters occur and James Dolan exists, the Mavericks sit at 43-30, a record which would slot them as the third seed in the East but which is only good for ninth in the Western Conference, out of the playoff picture if the season ended right now. Following a 32-point performance in a 128-119 overtime victory over Kevin Durant and the mighty mighty Oklahoma City Thunder, however, Dallas may have just entered playoff mode. Dirk is doing Dirk things, shooting at an unfathomably efficient clip from nearly everywhere on the floor and creating spacing issues like no one else in the NBA. It is entirely possible that the Mavs leapfrog any of the 5-8 teams (Portland, Golden State, Memphis, Phoenix, in that order) in the vacuum-packed West, and we all know now that Dirk can be dangerous in the playoffs. Having a much-improved Monta Ellis as a second scoring option, in addition to the other various pieces Rick Carlisle has at his disposal, only serves to benefit Dirk’s game, and watching this team gel in the way that it has over the course of the season has been one of the best sights in the league, regardless of whether or not the team actually does play more than 82 games. It might be more fun if they did make the playoffs, though.