I'm sitting here watching game 7 of the ALCS thinking how cool it would be to be a long-time Rays fan. Think about it. You watch 162 games of horrible baseball, year after year. Your team has been the doormat of the MLB forever and it doesn't help that the big bad Yanks and Sawks reside in your division. Now it's finally paying off. (Please do not blame me for a jinx since it's currently 3-1 Rays, top 8.)
And Jordan, why are you posting this on a 76ers blog? Well, I was thinking about what I could write about. All I could think of were the topics which have been beaten into our tiny Sixer brains all off-season. Willie Green sucks. Ed Stefanski scorched the rest of the NBA this off-season. Iggy. Lou. Thad. Speights. Blah, blah blah. Then all of a sudden not one, but two interesting topics popped into my head.
1. How does the Sixers' future look? Are we headed towards a Rays-type batch of young talent? Or are we just a team with a bunch of over-rated young guys (mostly by me) and will just be mediocre for years to come?
2. What's our championship window with this team (since our payroll is so locked up, this is pretty much it)?
Number one. Our future is interesting. When I say future I mean post-Brand or at least Post-Brand-Prime. The past couple years has led me to believe that we have some good talent evaluators behind the scenes. I don't know who they are and I'm not going to look it up, but the past few drafts bring me to this conclusion.
'04: Iggy. Think about where we would be if we took any of the five players following Iguodala. Luke Jackson, Andris Biedrins, Robert Swift, Sebastian Telfair and Kris Humphries. Yikes.
'05: Lou in the second round. Steal.
'06: Carney. We semi-whiffed on this one, but I'm telling you, before it's all said and done Rodney Carney will be a good NBA player. Go ahead and laugh. I'll show you this post in a couple years.
'07: Thaddeus Young at 13. Enough said.
'08: Marreesse Speights. He hasn't played a regular season game yet, but everyone, including myself is drinking the M16 Kool-Aid.
The past 5 drafts have been money and four of 'em were with Billy King at the helm, so now that we have Stefanksi and whoever is behind the scenes (because I refuse to believe Billy King had anything to do with it) I expect more of the same in upcoming drafts.
Anyway, enough with the past and on to the future. Sorry I got I little sidetracked, but those draftees ARE our future. Let's start with Lou Williams. He's locked up at a reasonable price for the next five years. He might not be the point guard of the future, but either way he's going to be a very, very good player. Did I mention he's only 21?
Andre Iguodala. Our Franchise guy. He's now officially locked up, not to mention filthy rich. He's already an all-star caliber player and our future probably depends on him more than anyone else. He's an extremely hard worker and continues to get better. 24 years old.
Thaddeus Young. This dude worked his way into the starting lineup last year. He was cool, calm and collected in the playoffs and he's got nowhere to go, but up. He's had an outstanding training camp and pre-season and we'll know in a couple of months if all this "taking the next step" talk is for real. There's no question Iggy is our franchise guy now, but I'm not so sure that he'll be the best player on our team in five years. Thad could very well be that guy. 20 years old.
Marreesse Speights. Mo is very capable of being an great player in this league. He's been compared to Amare by one awesomely awesome source and another source with a fancy title. You guessed it. Yours truly and ESPN's David Thorpe both think M16 has a bright future. I can't talk too much about him until I see a larger sample size, but there's no reason to believe he won't be as good as advertised. 21 years old.
Honorable mention: Jason Smith. Get well soon, Mr. Future-Role-Player-on-a-Championship-Team-Deluxe. 22 years old.
Honestly, in five years (A.B.-After Brand), is anyone complaining about a starting lineup of Lou (26 years old), Iggy (29 years), Thad (25 years), Speights (26 years), Smith (28 years). I'm not. Not to mention any young studs we might draft along the way, given our recent track record. Then again, all those players I just mentioned could completely suck. I'm here to tell you, they won't.
On to topic number two. Our Championship window. Well, we just looked at what our future looks like and that's WITHOUT Brand. If I had to put a number on it, I would say we have a 5-7 year window to win that LOB trophy. I'm not guaranteeing we will win the 'ship, or even make one, but we should be contenders for a while.
One more thought before I continue my Robin Williams-movie-marathon. We have an 82 game season ahead, and hopefully more. For some reason, I've had an epiphany tonight. I've been a die-hard sports fan my whole life, but sometimes I take my teams for granted. Some nights, I'll say to myself, "It's an 82 game season, I'll still watch the game, but I'll play online poker at the same time." No, Jordan, no more. I miss the Sixers too much right now. I want the season to last forever. We're competitive again. I'm hyperventilating just thinking about it. So this year, I'm going to fight tooth and nail to watch every minute of every game. And not once am I going to say, "Man, why do I put myself through this misery," or "Why can't I be a Lakers fan?" No matter what happens, I'll be there with the Sixers every step of he way, because watching the Rays fans tonight made me realize how sweet it is to finally succeed after years of disappointment.
I want a champagne bath!!!!!
Wow, this post has been an emotional roller coaster. Must be that time of the month.