If only the Philadelphia 76ers could hoop as well as they tank, the NBA could be on track for an extended showing the likes of which the league has rarely, if ever, seen before.
Well, check that, the Sixers appear destined to give us that anyway, albeit for all the wrong reasons. How can it be, the franchise most associated with such legendary ballers as Allen Iverson, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, and Moses Malone could now be turning losing and incompetence into such an art form?
With two lottery picks in this week’s NBA draft, the Sixers walked away with an unknown in Joel Embiid and an even greater unknown in Dario Saric. Yeah, yeah, I know under ordinary times and even the most remote of commonplace circumstances how can anyone bash a team landing the likes of Embiid, particularly with less than the top overall pick at their disposal?
But understand these aren’t customary times in the City of Brotherly Love, not with Philly coming off a 19-63 season, and at one point dropping 26 straight games to tie the NBA record for ineptness. So bad was Philly, you wonder how management, even in their own minds, can justify taking such a huge medical gamble on Embiid less than a year after doing likewise with Nerlens Noel.
Some are speculating at least the rookie version of Embiid will come to resemble Noel much more than ownership should be comfortable with. Despite being the No. 6 overall pick in last year’s draft, Noel never took the court for the undermanned and overwhelmed Sixers last season. And it seems the same fate may come of Embiid, who besides all the chronic back problems he suffers from that caused him to miss significant time at Kansas broke his foot just days before the draft.
More specifically, the 7-foot, 250-pound Embiid fractured the navicular bone in his right foot, and more to the point big men like him don’t have a favorable history of completely bouncing back from the injury. Zydrunas Ilgauskas was never the same after suffering it and it essentially ended Yao Ming’s career.
So again how do the Sixers justify taking the chance, particularly given their current straits and their fan base’s ongoing angst? And you would think if they were going to take such a risk they at least would seek to compensate for it by taking the surest thing available to them with their remaining top pick.
Instead, with Gary Harris, Doug McDermott, Adreian Payne, and Tyler Ennis still on the board, the Sixers went with Saric, who in a best case scenario probably won’t be available to them for a longer period of time than it will cumulatively take for Embiid and Noel to both make their debuts.
But hey, Philly fans, the Sixers want and are expecting your support. And a management team that would justify some of their most recent actions might even tell you they’ve earned it.