As the Sixers get ready to take on the Washington Wizards for an afternoon matchup on MLK day, it may be like looking right at a version of their past selves.
The Wizards sit at 19-20 this year, and in a mediocre Eastern Conference that's currently good for the fifth seed. It's clear that Washington is trying to put the rebuilding phase behind them, having already done the lottery dance for several years. They traded their 2014 first round pick to Phoenix (protected 1-12) in return for Marcin Gortat, an above average Center who can average nearly a double-double a night.
But as the team tries to distance themselves from the bottom feeders of the league and more so towards an NBA title, are they anything more than a middle of the road team as the Sixers once were? Before Philadelphia bottomed out this season, they were your average run of the mill team: a .500 club who took some whiffs in the draft and free agency with a coach who wasn't much more than mediocre (word to Michael Crabtree). Washington seems to be following that same exact path.
Over the past four years, Washington has had five lottery picks, four of which were relatively high. They emerged with John Wall, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter. The jury can remain out on Porter but other than Wall, Washington was unable to find a difference maker. Beal is an oft-injured volume shooter, and as adorable as Jan Vesley is (he has a very sad Twitter dedicated to his stats), he was not worth their top lottery pick in 2011. Couple the teams drafting woes with a poor tactician in Randy Wittman, and you're left with a team that may not get over the hump until, well, they hit the lottery hard again.
Washington's entangled in a dangerous cycle, and the could be headed in the direction of Philadelphia and many undistinguished teams before them.
It also makes this upcoming draft for the Sixers that much more important. Hit a home run and distance yourself from the pack, or end up just like the Wizards