The Times They Are a-Changin’. Now, there’s no proof that Bob Dylan was talking about the 2013-14 Sixers offseason, but then again, there’s no proof that he wasn’t. New general manager Sam Hinkie has rolled into town and changed the entire mindset of the Sixers organization. Losses will be more highly valued in the upcoming season as the team positions itself to obtain the highest pick possible in the stacked 2014 NBA draft class. And so, like the black bear learning to hibernate through winter, the Sixers fan must adapt to survive.
During the upcoming season, I fully expect to watch Sixers games like I watch Around the Horn: sure, there’s a scoring system in place, but it’s largely irrelevant and you watch for the content itself rather than the results. No longer will our previews and recaps focus on what the Sixers need to do or should have done to win ball games. Instead, we’ll examine how events impact the great tanking enterprise for a top pick in the 2014 draft (hopefully culminating in the first overall selection and Andrew Wiggins). In that sense, both games and organizational moves will be judged on how they help or harm the tanking process.
Scoring System: Any game where the Sixers lose but we also see signs of growth from young pieces like Carter-Williams, Noel, etc., will warrant 5 out of 5 tanks. A Sixers victory due to something happening like Jason Richardson shooting 6-8 from behind the arc will qualify as 1 out of 5 tanks. Everything else represents a sliding scale based upon the expectation of losses weighed against player development for the young pieces on the roster. Organizational transactions will be viewed in a similar fashion; let’s take a look at the major moves so far under the Sam Hinkie regime.
The Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel trade: The quintessential tanking trade: the Sixers shipped off their best player from last season in exchange for a raw big man and a future top-5 protected first round pick from New Orleans. The loss of Holiday greatly accelerates the Sixers’ plummet to the bottom and as a tanking bonus, Noel isn’t expected to play until around Christmastime while recovering from a torn ACL. The Pelicans are making a push for one of the final playoff seeds in the West, hopefully they fall far short in that goal and Philadelphia end up with two valuable lottery picks in next year’s draft.
1st round selection of Michael Carter-Williams: The Sixers selected MCW with every intention of handing the keys of the offense over to him. The former Syracuse guard is far from a polished product: not only will his outside shooting make the memory of Jrue Holiday seem like Steph Curry, but he also led the NCAA in turnovers last season. Fans can expect to see quite a few games reminiscent of his first summer league performance of 8 assists and 9 turnovers. Carter-Williams has great court vision and defensive potential, but there will be plenty of growing pains along his journey to becoming a finished product. It’s as if he was sent down from the tanking gods to save us from our wins.
2nd round selection of Arsalan Kazemi: In what I can only assume is classic Hinkie fashion, the Sixers traded down multiple times in the second round to accrue future second-round picks, before selecting former Oregon Duck Arsalan Kazemi. Kazemi comes across as a cross between Thad Young and Kenneth Faried: a tenacious rebounder and defender who will do all the little things that don’t necessarily show up in the box score to help your team win. The Sixers are trying to limit the number of wins this upcoming season, which knocks this transaction down a peg in the tanking scale. However, Kazemi isn’t the type of talent that will hurt the tanking process too much and he’s sure to be a fan favorite on the court.
Sixers trade future draft considerations for Royce White and Furkan Aldemir: Reports are that Aldemir, a Turkish power forward, was the real motivation behind the trade, as the Sixers don’t appear to have interest in working something out with the mercurial former former first-round pick White. Ultimately, the Sixers aren’t giving up anything of note for a pair of players that likely won’t be suiting for them this season. Non-factor as far as tanking goes.
There you have it, it’s a new era of Sixers basketball and we have a new way to look at it. Do you agree/disagree with these first few tank ranks? Either way, here’s hoping for plenty of tanks in our future.