NBA Preview 2014-2015 – Philadelphia 76ers

Convincing fans to buy expensive tickets to games because your team has loaded up on draft picks, cap space, and exciting young talent that is injured or playing in Europe is a difficult sell. That being said, it very well may be the best method to winning a championship in 2018 or 2019 or 2020. The Sixers won just 19 games last season, the second fewest in the NBA, but they have a plan and there is good reason for long-term optimism.

Convincing fans to buy expensive tickets to games because your team has loaded up on draft picks, cap space, and exciting young talent that is injured or playing in Europe is a difficult sell. That being said, it very well may be the best method to winning a championship in 2018 or 2019 or 2020. The Sixers won just 19 games last season, the second fewest in the NBA, but they have a plan and there is good reason for long-term optimism.

When your organizational philosophy is built on not now or even next year but a few years out in the future, it is vitally important to draft well, leverage what talent you do have, and make sure you are in a good financial situation when your squad is ready to compete. It appears thus far Philadelphia has accomplished those goals.

After trading Jrue Holiday to New Orleans last summer, essentially the Sixers had two first round draft picks. Holiday was dealt for Nerlens Noel, the immensely talented big man from the University of Kentucky who was selected sixth overall. Noel missed the season with an ACL injury, a great combination for the Sixers who are accruing talent but not necessarily trying to win yet.

With their other first road pick Philadelphia selected Michael Carter-Williams. The point guard from Syracuse was named the NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. It’s not impossible that Carter-Williams and Noel could be the best two players to come out of the 2013 draft and getting them at number six and 11 overall scores major points for the Sixers front office.

In an effort to continue their trend of adding talent but not winning too much since Philadelphia is still not ready to be competitive, they added two players in the 2014 draft that won’t play this year. There’s no doubt that Kansas big man Joel Embiid, who plays the same style as Hakeem Olajuwon, was the highest upside player available. However, Embiid has a foot injury that will prevent him from playing much this season. He’ll redshirt in the same way that Noel did and be ready to go in 2015-2016.

The Sixers also acquired Croatian youngster Dario Saric in the draft. The 6’10” 20-year-old will spend the next year or two in Europe before joining Philadelphia. Again, they acquired a guy who can help in the long-term without adding to their win total this year. Since more wins means a worse draft pick, that’s a perfect scenario.

Soon-to-be expensive Thaddeus Young was dealt in the summer to Minnesota for Alexey Shved, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and a future draft pick. Both players will be a part of the Sixers rotation and it is apparent that Philadelphia values draft picks.

Philadelphia will be very young in 2014-2015 and lose a lot of games. That is after all the plan. However, that doesn’t mean you should bet against them every night. Last year the Sixers were 36-46 against the spread including 22-19 at home. Their games went over 40 times and under on 41 occasions with one push. They’ll likely be more competitive this season but still be in position to draft Emmanuel Mudiay, or Jahlil Okafor next summer.