Less than a week ago, Mike Levin wrote a post about both the dangers and the wonders of Las Vegas, NV. At the time, he had no idea that I was heading to Sin City the next day for a wedding (mine), but he found out soon enough when I started the following GChat conversation with him at 5:22 AM ET (I'm sure he was pleased, considering the fact that it was 2:22 AM PT):
Me: Kwame Brown is 20 feet away from me at the airport right now
Me: On my way to Vegas for my wedding, me and Kwame were going through security at the same time
Levin: and you guys talked about...
Me: He wasn't eating at the time, so I'm not entirely sure it was him
That, my friends, is what one could consider a sign. How often do you run into a 6'10" guy (a "zero-way player", according to some) clad head-to-toe in Sixers' sweats at the airport? So, less than a day later, I took a trip to the LVH sportsbook and laid $33 (Bynum's jersey number, natch) on the Philadelphia 76ers to win more than 16.5 games this year.
Did the Sixers just barely beat a Spanish team whose name sounds like the main character from "The Hobbit"? Yup. Is James Anderson - he of the six career starts in three NBA seasons - tentatively penciled in as the 76ers' starting shooting guard? Yes. Will the "will he or won't he?" distraction of Royce White's playing status follow this team all season long? Probably. But would it be the most Sixers' thing ever if these team exceeds expectations and wins 18+ games during a season in which they're clearly trying to tank? Absolutely.
You have to go back to the 2009-10 season to find the last team to win less than 17 games in a non-lockout shortened campaign: Both the New Jersey Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves accomplished the "feat" that year. But that T-Wolves team was horrendous: Five of the top seven players in terms of minutes played that season were Corey Brewer, Jonny Flynn, Ryan Gomes, Ramon Sessions and (wait for it)... Damien Wilkins.
Let's not get too crazy, however: The 76ers are 2,250-to-1 to win the Eastern Conference and 5,000-to-1 to win the title. No team in the NBA has longer odds, and putting cash down on the Sixers on either one of those bets is like doing this with your money.
It's hard as hell to lose 66 games in a season, especially in a top-heavy conference/league. But given the fact that we all want them to lose 66 games, they'll figure out a way not to do so. Brett Brown is the new Damien Wilkins.
You gotta believe.