With Saturday night’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Philadelphia 76ers became the sixth team in NBA history to lose 20 or more straight games in one season, and tied the franchise record as well. The Sixers also became the only franchise to have streaks of 20-plus losses in more than one season; they also accomplished this feat during the 1972-73 season. Even though the Sixers are obviously down, there is no need to feel bad for them — the future in Philly is very bright.
Philadelphia targeted this season as a good season to start over, and they were correct. They did not want to be one of those middling teams that fights and scratches to make the playoffs, only to be bounced in the first round every year. Philadelphia knows that the only way to have success is to get a franchise-altering player. With this year’s draft class being the deepest in the last decade, the Sixers saw their chance to start over, and they took full advantage.
First, they traded their only All-Star Jrue Holdiay to the New Orleans Pelicans for the draft rights to Nerlens Noel. In the trade, the Sixers also will received the Pelicans first-round pick this season. Noel tore his ACL during his freshman season at Kentucky, and he has been sidelined all season, so going into next year, they will be adding Noel, their own first-round pick and the Pelicans first-round pick.
After setting themselves up perfectly for this season’s draft, Philadelphia decided to take flyers on young guys who hadn’t seen much action, hoping one or two would turn out to be diamonds in the rough. Guys like Tony Wroten, Elliot Williams, James Anderson and Henry Sims are getting more minutes than they have ever gotten in the NBA, and giving the Sixers a good long look at them to see if they can be contributors in the future.
Once they accumulated extra draft picks and young players with something to prove, the Sixers needed to cut some cash for next season. Philadelphia traded Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, and now only have two contracts at $3.5 million or more per season: Thaddeus Young and Jason Richardson, and the latter’s deal is over after next season. Once Richardson is off the books, the Sixers will have Young, Noel, this season’s likely Rookie of the Year — Michael Carter-Williams — and their two first-round picks as the only players making any significant dent to their cap space. This should allow Philadelphia to add at least one meaningful free agent over the next two offseasons.
With young players like Carter-Williams, Young and Noel, as well as three first-round picks over the next two seasons, and plenty of cap space, the Sixers are in prime position to make everyone forget about this incredibly bad stretch of basketball. Of the six teams to lose 20 or more games in one season, the quickest turn around was the 1972-73 Sixers; they made it back to the playoffs three seasons after their losing streak. This version of the Sixers will be back in the playoffs within the next two seasons, and be a title contender by the end of this decade.