A few days ago there was an excellent fan post written titled "Why I hate this season" (by dweebowitz). Upon completion of the article I became sad that others hadn't been enjoying the Sixers season as thoroughly as I have been, and felt the need to share my thoughts on this ever-enjoyable Sixers team.
The Sixers came into this season expecting to be bad... like really bad. In fact, this Sixers team was only projected to win 16.5 games (one of the lowest projected totals in the last decade) which would lead to an awful, extremely brutal season. What is happening to change this to a positive experience for me, you ask?
MCW!!! I mean how can you not be excited by this kid?! He's 22 years old, 6'6, crazy athletic and on pace to win Rookie of the Year. He’s a lightning bolt of energy, and already has elite level defensive ability. Obviously you all know that MCW is awesome because he’s been a bright spot amongst a very dark season, but the crazy part is, he may not end up as our best player drafted in last year's draft! Which leads me too...
NERLENS NOEL. The 6'11 defensive force blocks just about every shot ever - 4.4 blocks per game, while also averaging 2.1 steals per game in college, may return in 4-6 weeks. He, admittedly, is somewhere between average and bad on offense at the moment, but most young big man are raw offensively as well. What the stats don't tell you is how supremely cool and fun to watch Nerlens Noel is; I mean the dude has a High Top Fade! Can't you already hear Malik Rose saying "And Nerlens going off the glass using the ole' High Top Fade Away..." The fact that Nerlens is expected to be back before the season is out will allow him to get some much-needed work while also not spoiling our tanking efforts. It also allows us to have another extremely fun player on the floor during the grueling end of the season games. The future is bright for you, Nerlens – Get well soon and keep practicing that jumper.
The next reason to be happy about this year’s team: Spencer Hawes. Enjoy him while we still can because he’s going to be a backup big man on a contending team in the next few months. Every time Big Boy Spence spots up for a three pointer I am reminded why I love basketball. Nothing about Spencer Hawes screams world-class athlete, but he is succeeding in, arguably, the most athletic league in the world by doing the little things. Next time you watch the Sixers, make sure to watch Hawes’ passing ability, he’s averaging 3.5 assists/game this year which is 2nd in the NBA among Centers. He is also shooting 43.7% from 3-point-range, which is 3rd among Power Forwards and Centers. The big man is having a great year and we should love for him while we have him. Keep takin’ em to the weight room, Spence.
There are numerous other reasons to enjoy this season (Tony Wroten, Thad Young, future draft picks, run and gun offense, etc…) but the most important thing to love about this season is the overall direction our team is going. We may be losing a lot this year, and that’s fine, but we finally have a path to reach our goals. Not once in the past couple of years did the Sixers seem to have a plan on how to get into that elite category, but we do now. We have decided to take one step back for three steps forward by adding a group of young, long, athletic players who we can groom to play the way our coaches have envisioned a championship team. We may not land Wiggins/Embiid/Parker in this draft, but we’ve laid the foundation for a contender with the moves that Sam Hinkie has made this past year. I love watching the Sixers this year because of this plan. Every MCW steal leading to a dunk is a sign of things to come in the Sixers future, and, I have to say, I love what the signs are telling me.