Trans. Apr 17 6:48 ET (Apr 17 6:48 ET ) There is a chance the Sixers could have three top-10 rookies on their roster next season.
Nerlens Noel is the one we already know. He was last year’s sixth overall pick but because he took the entire season to recover from knee surgery, he retains his rookie status.
Blake Griffin was selected No. 1 overall in 2009 but never played a game because he too was recovering from knee surgery.
Griffin made his NBA debut in the 2010-11 season and at the end of it was named Rookie of the Year.
By virtue of the Sixers having the second-worst record in the NBA this season, they will have a 19.9 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. They have a 55.8 percent chance of getting a top-three pick and can do no worse than No. 5
The Pelicans' first-round pick belongs to the Sixers (via the Jrue Holiday trade), so long as it is not in the top five. New Orleans has a 1.1 percent chance at the top pick and a 4.0 percent chance at a top-three pick.
All the mathematical possibilities and how much one right or wrong bounce of a ping-pong ball could impact the Sixers' future is getting to head coach Brett Brown.
“That night when you find out where you pick is is a nerve-racking night for me,” Brown said. “I don’t remember the last time I was that kind of nervous, but that night I will be nervous.
“It's a really important night for the club. We will continue moving forward no matter what happens, but I would be lying if I said it any other way -- there will be some anxiety that night.”
The draft lottery takes place on May 20.
-- Dei Lynam, CSN Philadelphia
As much work as Brett Brown did from October to now in his first year as Sixers head coach, there is an equal amount of work awaiting him beginning Thursday with the season in the books and the NBA draft a little more than two months away. It was Hinkie who traded Jrue Holiday to acquire Nerlens Noel and the Pelicans' 2014 first-round pick (top-five protected). Hinkie also selected Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th overall pick.
The left knee surgery Eric Gordon had scheduled on Wednesday was little more than an arthroscopic ''cleanup'' and all five of New Orleans' injured regulars should be ready for the start of next training camp, Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said Wednesday. Demps, who spoke as the Pelicans prepared for Wednesday night's season finale against Houston, could not immediately discuss the results of Gordon's procedure, but asserted, ''I don't think it's a major surgery. ... Obviously, any time someone has surgery, it's a concern, but from what we've been told he'll be ready to go at the beginning of next season.'' Ryan Anderson, who had neck surgery this month on a herniated cervical disk, also is expected to recover fully this summer, Demps said. The same goes for Jrue Holiday, who had surgery in late February for a fractured right shin;
In the second week of November, the Philadelphia 76ers erased a 10-point second-half lead to tie the Houston Rockets and eventually pull away for a 123-117 win . The game left both teams with identical 5-4 records, and … a lot has changed since then.
Not only has Houston become an NBA powerhouse, but the Sixers have taken losing to another level. Nearly historical levels, we should add, as the team’s 120-98 loss to the Rockets on Thursday night tied an NBA record for the longest losing streak in league history. They’ll have a chance to break the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers’ streak of 26 consecutive losses on Saturday when they play the Detroit Pistons.
The loss was typical of the entire streak. The Sixers competed, but coach Brett Brown’s rotation is filled with contributors (several of whom are on 10-day contracts) who are basically holding auditions to maybe earn a gig as end-of-the-bench guys for when the 76ers eventually turn things around. Houston raced out to a 14-point lead that was nearly eliminated by a running Sixers squad in the second quarter as they cut the deficit to one, but the Rockets ran into halftime on a 20-6 run.
When asked how his team would overcome a 14-point halftime deficit as his squad entered the second half, Brown’s answer to CSN Philadelphia reporter Molly Sullivan was succinct and telling and clearly exasperated: “I have no idea.”
Former Rocket and current Sixer scorer James Anderson, who had a career-high 36 points in the overtime win from November, once again lit up the team that cut him. The swingman finished with 30 points, but the team’s backcourt had no answers for James Harden and Jeremy Lin (Patrick Beverley, Houston’s starting point man, left the game in the first half with a sprained right knee), and Dwight Howard had his way with various fringe types in the Houston frontcourt, finishing with 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
If the 76ers do set a historical mark on Saturday, there is significant worry the team could go the rest of the season without winning a game, something that would set a 36-game mark for futility amongst criticism for tanking a season in the hopes of securing a top draft pick.
Even Sixers alumni can’t help but pile on the team. Philadelphia legend Moses Malone, who helped lead the 76ers to the 1983 NBA title, was in supportive attendance as a guest of the team on Thursday night, but former Sixers player and coach Fred Carter was candid when asked how this current squad would match up against his 1972-73 team. That outfit finished with a 9-73 record, the worst record in history in seasons that went the full 82 games, and that team’s leading scorer decided to throw off the scent in defense of his nine-win crew.
From Comcast Philadelphia :
Asked Monday to compare the roster of his team with that of this year’s club, he said, “It’s not even close. We were a much better team, but we were in a much stronger league.”
There were only 17 NBA teams then, compared to 30 now.
“The talent,” the 69-year-old Carter said, “was not as thinned-out as it is today. Therefore you have much tougher teams to go up against every night.”
Most of the “the-game-was-tougher-in-our-day-the-league-wasn’t-as-watered-down” arguments fall laughably short, as not only has the game grown exponentially as exposure to the NBA has blown up stateside, international scouting (Carter’s Sixers didn’t have to go up against Omer Asik and Donatas Motiejunas, as this year’s Sixers did on Thursday) has significantly widened the talent pool. On top of that, many players from that era conveniently forget the presence of the ABA, which featured 10 teams that season on top of the NBA’s 17, most of which would have easily bested Philadelphia’s 9-73 mark.
Carter is right in this regard, though.
Most terrible rebuilding teams at least have one go-to asset to help keep things sublime every so often, even when things are going ridiculously for most of the campaign. The Sixers traded two significant starters, their own draft pick from last year’s draft is a solid if unspectacular player (who has missed time to injury) in Michael Carter-Williams, and they dealt an All-Star in Jrue Holiday for a prospect in Nerlens Noel who might not play this year. The team may not be technically tanking – this is a hard-working crew that is attempting to win games – but they're also pretty damn bad as presently constructed.
Saturday’s matchup against the Detroit Pistons should serve as a clarion call for those who love to get haughty about NBA teams tanking games.
The Pistons are working with an interim head coach and quite possibly a lame duck general manager in Joe Dumars . Created in the hopes that a playoff run would be certain behind acquisitions like Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, alongside holdover big men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, the team has lost 15 of 19 in what could be construed as an attempt to keep its conditional first-round draft pick – one that it owes Charlotte if it falls below eighth in the draft, where the Pistons are statistically set to select if the NBA draft lottery produces chalk.
Both teams “need” to lose on Saturday, but the Pistons feature a litany of players that truly are going through the motions right now, awaiting a new coach and front office to turn things around. Philadelphia is far less talented, and the team’s front office wants to increase those lottery odds (the Sixers are still “behind” Milwaukee for the worst record in the NBA), but they’ll also be fighting not to make its mark in NBA infamy, featuring rotation players who at least put some fight into those wins.
In reality, it’s a dream matchup for those that don’t want to see the Philadelphia 76ers set history. Are the Sixers good enough to pull off a win and end the streak?
Unfortunately, we’ll be watching.
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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
The Philadelphia 76ers' three-game road trip concludes in Texas on Thursday night with a visit to Toyota Center to take on the Houston Rockets. They are underdogs. Very heavy underdogs. Like, 19-1/2 or 20-point underdogs , depending on which sportsbook you favor. This, of course, stands to reason, because the 76ers have not won a basketball game in a very, very long time.
Brett Brown's Sixers have lost 25 consecutive contests, putting them one defeat shy of matching the post-"Decision" 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers for the longest losing streak in NBA history . If they go down in Houston tonight, as presumably everyone in the world (including John Q. Oddsmaker) expects them to, they will share a piece of arguably the most ignominious mark in the league's record books. If they follow it up by going down at Wells Fargo Center to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday — a less-sure bet, considering Detroit's a rather awful 26-45 at the moment, but still a sound one, considering Detroit's 3-0 against Philly this season, with all three wins coming by double figures and the average margin of victory clocking in at 14 points — they'll own it all by themselves.
The bid for a historic level of futility is bad news just about any way you slice it, but forward Thaddeus Young offered a particularly poignant spin on the struggle as part of a lengthy feature on the stumbling Sixers by Jeré Longman of the New York Times :
Two of the [76ers'] most visible and productive players, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, were dealt away at February’s trade deadline. [Casper] Ware was the fifth player signed to a 10-day contract. Eight players on the current roster had spent time in the N.B.A. Development League.
Effectively, Philadelphia had tanked the season, not losing games on purpose but becoming awful in the short term in hopes of becoming good in the long term. It had shed players and any real chance of regular victory to gain draft picks, salary-cap space and a chance to rebuild after two winning seasons in the previous decade.
The last victory had come Jan. 29 on a buzzer beater by Turner in Boston, so long ago that forward Thaddeus Young, the one established Sixer, said, “Tell you the truth, I don’t even remember it.”
Allow me to help you out with a little memory jog, Thad:
Turner's buzzer-beater to vanquish the Boston Celtics broke a three-game losing streak and improved the 76ers to 15-31 on the season. At the time, it actually prompted a bit of grousing among some Sixers observers, since it put Philly two up in the loss column over the then-15-33 Celtics, giving Boston an advantage in the race for the league's worst record. The Celtics have gone 8-15 since; the arguably ill-advised win has not wound up not being a problem. ( "I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger." )
You can't blame Young for not really remembering that buzzer-beating victory; a lot's happened over the past 58 days. ( I checked. )
M.J. had twins . Pierre got rebooted . (We kind of miss the old one.) The Dunk Contest was a bummer . Everyone talked about tanking a bunch .
Jason Collins and Phil Jackson got gigs. Kobe's dunzo , and sleeved jerseys might be , too. The Olympics happened , a giant airplane disappeared , and Taco Bell's got breakfast now.
And in your neck of the woods, the winds of change have been blowing something fierce. See ya, Evan and Lavoy . Sayonara, Spencer . We hardly knew ye, Danny , Earl and Eric . Glad to meet you, Jarvis , Darius , James and Casper . The only thing that's remained constant, of course, is the losing.
Philadelphia has not only had the worst offense in the league since Jan. 29, but the difference (7.8 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com's stat tool) between their dead-last crew and the second-worst unit in the NBA during that stretch (the East-leading Indiana Pacers!) is the same as the difference between Indy's 29th-ranked O and the Oklahoma City Thunder's No. 7 attack. Eighteen of the Sixers' 25 consecutive losses have been by double-digits. Seven have come by at least 20 points, with three coming by 30 or more and two — the historic back-to-back destructions at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors — coming by at least 40.
The Sixers lost by 20 to a Milwaukee Bucks team that still somehow has a worse record than they do in a game that literally put a man to sleep in the front row . On the rare occasions where they've been close enough to grasp victory, they have promptly snatched defeat . They've looked like they're saying "eff it" kind of a lot. (There's a good quick-hit game-by-game breakdown over at sublime Sixers blog Liberty Ballers .)
When Cleveland went through their all-time losing streak, then-Cavs head coach Byron Scott often sounded livid; "I'm mad as hell," he said after their 26th straight L . In Philly, though, first-year head coach Brown and company generally seem to have taken things in stride. More from Longman :
On Monday [before taking on the San Antonio Spurs], [Brown] was his usual irrepressible self. At 53, he is handsome, gray, with a Boston accent and a youthful enthusiasm. The losing streak, he said, was a “ghost somewhere out there” but not something he discussed with his players.
“We don’t want pity, we don’t want sympathy,” Brown said. “This is fantastic. We’re rebuilding something.”
As he stood outside the locker room, two of the Sixers walked past for pregame warm-ups.
“Hey, you guys, do we care about any streak?” Brown said.
“No,” the players said.
They smiled and slapped hands with their coach.
“That’s right,” Brown said. “We’re just going to go play tonight. That’s all we’re doing. That’s my pregame speech.”
It was not an especially effective speech, as a San Antonio side that sat Tony Parker, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter dismantled the defense designed by longtime Spurs assistant Brown by 22 points thanks to strong performances by end-of-the-bencher Austin Daye and former "fat ass" Patty Mills. Oh, well.
Brown hasn't been breezy at all times throughout, of course. He's bristled at his team's indifference to defense , he's lamented brainfart turnovers and he's stalked the sideline like any coach disgruntled with the run of play. Generally, though, he's understood that this is the cost of doing one of the NBA's unseemliest bits of business — the stripping-down-to-the-studs of an also-ran that precedes, if all goes well, the construction of a contender. This is why Brown insisted on a five-year deal — he knew he wouldn't have a competitive roster , he's gone all-in on spinning lottery pick Nerlens Noel's estimated time of arrival forward to 2014 , and he has earnestly engaged the prospect of not winning another game this season from a position of understanding that, in the grand scheme of the Sixers' rebuilding project, very little of what's happening right now really matters.
From the second Sam Hinkie came on-board , and from the second he traded 2012-13 All-Star Jrue Holiday, this was how it was going to be. Some people, like former NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy, might find that embarrassing ; others might view it as the entirely rational response to the NBA landscape as it actually exists, and to a long-middling 76ers team's place in it. Whatever your opinion on it, the Sixers brass and head coach are at peace with it — Brown told Longman he's now "immune to whatever" criticism comes Philly's way because he feels "so strongly that what we’re doing is the correct path [to] building something exciting" — and, despite all these nights at the bottom of the standings, it sounds like Philadelphia's last man standing does, too.
“You put on your G.M. hat and say, O.K., we have a chance to really build something special here,” Young told Longman, referring to the 76ers' squeaky clean cap sheet and the bounty of future draft picks heading to Pennsylvania, including two likely lottery picks this year, thanks to the Noel-Holiday swap. “