We are halfway through the 2013-2014 season, so it’s time for a tanking checkup. The Sixers have come down from their heady start and plateaued as one of the worst teams in the NBA just as they were designed to be by tank-and-rebuild mastermind Sam Hinkie. I detailed the strategy at length here and the formula, for better or worse, remains the same: lose to win. Down is up. It’s like Brewster’s Millions with tall people – Hinkie doesn’t want the measly million dollars. He wants to burn through thirty mil in a season to get the big prize.
Clearly it’s a flawed system. Until the NBA revamps the draft lottery, teams must decide whether to make a three or four year run at going deep in the playoffs, or to field a subpar squad, pile up losses and rebuild through the draft. Only a few teams have the money and prestige necessary to lure top-tier free agents – Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Brooklyn and Dallas spring to mind – the rest of the league needs to get star power on cheap rookie deals and extensions.
A few things have developed in SixersWorld since the season tipped off:
1. Michael Carter-Williams is a certified talent. He is big, fast, smart and, most importantly, a straight baller. (Definition of “baller”: Passes the eye test; possesses that ineffable ability to get buckets; rebounds and loose balls seem to magically bounce his way; is the kind of guy you’d want to have on your team on the playground; see: Paul Pierce, Allen Iverson, Dennis Johnson, Kevin Love, Phil Jackson, Charles Barkley, Pat Riley, Manu Ginobli, et al).
MCW’s shooting – the biggest knock on him coming out of college – is better than expected and should improve. He will win Rookie of the Year honors, barring a herculean second half from Victor Oladipo. I don’t think Sam Hinkie, or anyone for that matter, dreamed he be this good this soon. It justifies the surprising Jrue Holiday draft-day trade and gives us a solid building block moving forward. Bonus: he seems like a really good kid.
2. Brett Brown looks like a franchise-changing coach. The players love him, and despite their record, he has all the signs of being the kind of coach we could grow with for years. I asked Matt Bonner what he thought of Brown (a former Spurs assistant under Popovich) and he said that they “miss him terribly.” A ringing endorsement. Continue reading →