The Philadelphia 76ers, they have returned to their losing ways. It’s time for the fans that have not already done so; shift from 8th seed playoff mindset and digest the reality of the situation. The high of a ten win January led by Joel Embiid which included a Friday night nationally televised game against the Houston Rockets has become a distant memory.
Losers of five out of their last six games, and 0-4 in the month of February, fans can encourage effort but it’s all about situating their positioning for the 2017 NBA draft lottery.
The eventual draft order for lottery teams won’t be determined until May 16th, and it’s far more than just the 76ers that dictate the percentages of how the ping pong balls may fall. If there was ever a time for that Lakers top three protected pick to convey to Philadelphia, this is the draft class. The Kings are playing better than expected, even with the loss of Rudy Gay for the season they have not plummeted and the general manager has stated that DeMarcus Cousins will not be traded. The Brooklyn Nets are terrible, their pick heads to the Boston Celtics, but there are a ridiculous number of bad teams in the NBA that will bottle up the bottom ten seeding.
With thirty one games left on the schedule, what should be expected for the 76ers?
First, when will Embiid play next, and how many more games should be expected for the future rookie of the year winner? I project a dozen, which may seem like a low number, but the team knows what they have talent wise; a cautious approach should be expected based on their history with handling Embiid.
Will Ben Simmons make his NBA debut this season? I had a feeling after Simmons went down with the injury that the 76ers would be as cautious if not more cautious then they were with bringing Embiid back. Selfishly I l want to see Ben Simmons on the floor for a regular season NBA game before the end of the season. I believe Coach Brown and his teammates want the same, but I don’t see it happening. Simmons like Noel and Embiid will miss his entire rookie season.
Jahlil Okafor to the New Orleans Pelicans trade rumors have been swirling for a few days with mixed reports about what form of compensation the 76ers would receive. The return value will not be what you or I think is enough for the former 3rd overall pick, the limitations on defense and lack of speed hinder the offensive game he possesses. With Nerlens Noel a restricted free agent after this season, it’s hard to imagine any team giving up much in a trade, I see the 76ers matching any deal in the off-season and Noel remaining part of the “insurance” at center with Emiid history.
There are other role players/starters on the team that could help playoff contenders, I’m less confident with Bryan Colangelo finding ways to move these players then when Sam Hinkie was in charge.
The remainder of the 2016-2017 season for the Philadelphia 76ers will look and feel much like the month of February. Effort will certainly not be questioned, but the lack of talent will certainly show.