Each day this week, NESN.com will take a look at a team that is virtually assured of having a worse record than the Celtics this season — thereby standing in the way of Boston landing the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NBA draft.
We conclude with No. 1 on our list of lottery ballhogs: the Philadelphia 76ers.
Time will tell if general manager Sam Hinkie‘s moves this offseason were the bold ones necessary to guide the Sixers back to glory. For now, they just seem weird.
For the second straight offseason, the Sixers traded away their best player for a big man with knee problems. The approach did not work out too well last year, when they dealt away Andre Iguodala as part of a deal that netted them Andrew Bynum, who went on to play zero games for the Sixers. This time around, they picked up Kentucky shot blocker Nerlens Noel on draft night for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, hoping for a better payoff. It was not quite deja vu, but the echoes were eerie.
Granted, this deal was not as foolhardy as the Bynum one. Anyone with sense suspected Bynum would never put in the necessary work to get back on the court for a team he didn’t want to play for, when his $17 million salary was fully guaranteed. Plus, Iguodala was a better all-around player than Holiday, albeit at a less valuable position.
Still, Philadelphia fans already wary of a franchise that has set new lows in mismanagement in the last decade could not have taken these moves as a good sign.
The Sixers now could be better positioned to compete long-term than they have been since they traded Allen Iverson. Or not. Michael Carter-Williams, like Holiday, has ample skills yet glaring flaws. Noel, should his torn ACL heal correctly, could be the second coming of a young Theo Ratliff. Evan Turner, who should have the ball in his hands more now that both Iguodala and Holiday are gone, might finally have his chance to fulfill the potential that made him the No. 2 pick in the draft.
Could. Should. Might.
There is no certainty in those words, just as there is no certainty that Hinkie’s plan to really, really stink will translate into the top draft pick and a franchise cornerstone on par with Kevin Durant or LeBron James. The lone certainty seems to be that the Sixers will be beyond horrible this season, rendering it all but impossible that the Celtics will finish last even in their own division.
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