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9 Days Until Sixers: Prepare For The Worst

The 2013-14 season will be far worse than most of us can possibly imagine. But as long as we keep our eyes on the prize, the fairy tale could very well have a happy ending.

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Brett Brown knows that his rookie season on the bench will be a struggle.
Brett Brown knows that his rookie season on the bench will be a struggle.
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

It's one thing to say that you're OK with the Philadelphia 76ers tanking this season for a high draft pick - it's another thing to actually live through it.

Prepare yourself: The next six months will be filled with much sorrow. There will be 30-point losses and monotonous press conferences and losing streaks that last longer than a fortnight.

There will be games where the result is decided before halftime, and road trips where the Sixers will return home with as many wins as they had when they left.

It's going to be ugly. Super ugly. Tyrone Hill ugly.

Make sure you have extra batteries on hand just in case the power goes out.

Take solace: A group of unwitting fans went through something similar down in the Tar Heel State just two years ago. The 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats struggled through a 7-59 campaign while dealing with allegations of tanking at every turn.

To be fair, it didn't appear as if the Bobcats were purposely trying to throw games - the team simply wasn't that good. Charlotte's 16-game losing streak during a particularly brutal four-week stretch wasn't even the season's nadir: After capturing their seventh win of the year on March 17, the Bobcats closed out the year with 23 consecutive losses.

That Bobcats' team finished last in the league in both field-goal percentange (41.4%) and three-point percentage (29.5%), and scored a mere 87.0 points per game. Only three players on the roster shot better than 46 percent from the field on the year (Derrick Brown, D.J. White and Bismack Biyombo), and Charlotte broke the century mark in scoring just seven times.

That, of course, was a lockout-shortened campaign, and 'Cats fans only had to suffer through four months of uninspired basketball. We've got half of a calendar year ahead of us, and unlike that Charlotte team that purposely started D.J. Augustin 46 times, there are a few reasons for optimism.

Just five preseason games in and Brett Brown's impact on the Sixers is already noticeable. The first-year head coach has significantly cut down on the number of ill-advised jump shots taken by his team, thanks in large part to the analytic work performed and provided by general manager Sam Hinkie and his staff.

Rookie Michael Carter-Williams has already been handed the keys to the family minivan, and we'll soon find out whether he's physically and mentally ready for the rigors of the NBA.

There's the intrigue of Royce White, a player whose potential is often overshadowed by his anxiety disorder. And just beneath the surface, there's a palpable level of anticipation as we await the arrival of Nerlens Noel.

See... it isn't as bad as some people make it out to be.

There are other storylines as well: It's no secret that this is a make-or-break season for Evan Turner, who desperately needs to gain some level of consistency in order to land a lucrative deal next summer (or, at the very least, to prove to some that he's not a loser).

And, above all else, there's the prospect of a high lottery selection at the end of the season. That, of course, is the security blanket that helps us sleep peacefully, the night light that protects us from the monster in the closet.

Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, et al. aren't the cure-all for what ails this team, but the man whom the Sixers select with their first pick next summer figures to be the cornerstone of franchise for several years to come. "Together We Build" isn't just some cute marketing slogan - it represents the team's top-down approach towards the ultimate goal of winning a championship.

In today's NBA, the best way to become good is to be anything but. It's an illogical approach on the surface, but it's one that Hinkie (and many of the team's supporters) have embraced over the past several months.

Our fandom will kick in at times, and even though we want to maximize the number of lottery combinations that we'll have next spring, our natural instincts will still cause us to root for our beloved Sixers if they happen to be in a tie game late in the fourth quarter.

But water always finds its level, and the 76ers will inevitably lose far more games than they'll win this season. There won't be too many of those tie games late in the fourth quarter, and unfortunately, there isn't an NBA 2K14-like way to simulate the next six months.

So, in lieu of that, we simply need to keep our gaze focused on the future. For once, moral victories will hold a fair amount of tangible value this season. The development of Carter-Williams and/or Noel is far more valuable than actual wins in the standings. Brown's growing pains as a coach will only serve to make him a better leader once the Sixers are ready to compete once again.

It's a different reality than what most of us are used to. Hopefully, it's only temporary.

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