The 76ers are just really bad. Is there really anything left to say about this team?
After stepping back over the past week and only tuning in for portions of games, it became a lot easier to accept the reality that this team is just not watchable most of the time. Call it being negative or pessimistic, but it's just the simple assessment of the situation. They have a bunch of players that have no apparent role short or long term. The team has nothing to hang their hat on, offensive or defensively. They just have no identity.
This afternoon was no different as they came into Cleveland to face off against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. The first quarter actually went the 76ers way as they were able to out hustle their way to a lead by the end of it. However, that was more on the Cavaliers looking half-asleep than the 76ers playing appreciably better. Quarters 2 through 4 just became a display of a vastly superior team against a band of misfits and what was a small lead became a huge deficit by the final buzzer.
As with every game this season, turnovers and lack of execution offensively led to numerous transition buckets for the opponent. Poor spacing, rotating and effort defensively led to many easy buckets for them, as well. When the talent disparity isn't in your favor, you can't get outworked and you can't afford bad execution. Unfortunately, the young Sixers haven't learned that lesson after 29 games.
It's just been a rough season for all parties. However, I'm beginning to be more at peace and ease with each passing game because feeling the opposite isn't really worth it anymore. While I'm still optimistic with the future of this team, I'm slowly drifting into apathy about anything outside of individual player development.
- Kendall Marshall has been as advertised. The guy absolutely knows how to pass. His ability to work on and off a pick and roll has been a welcome change. It has helped both Okafor and Noel get deeper into the paint to operate, provided they catch the ball cleanly (*cough cough* Noel *cough cough*). I can live with the sub-par defense right now.
- Nerlens Noel has gotten that bounce in his step back. After sitting out due to that corneal abrasion, it looked like Noel had time to rest up a bit. He's been struggling with a myriad of aches and pains for most of the season and it looked to be a good explanation for his bad play/effort. Still isn't all pretty, but he's playing with more effort, and I missed that.
- I'm probably one of the few people that still wants JaKarr Sampson to stick around. I won't really argue that he belongs here long-term. However, among all the fringey Sixers wing players, I feel as though he is the one guy that is still playing the hard and doing enough things to stick around (defense, effort, attacking the basket).
- Richaun Holmes had a really good stretch at the end of the first quarter when the Sixers went small. He may only be "Dunk Guy" for right now but he has the tools to cut it as a small ball center. It isn't always pretty but I'm excited to watch him develop and grow from a 2nd rounder out of Bowling Green to, hopefully, a long-term contributor.
- For as well as he was set up and for as much as he gives effort, Noel is absolutely killing the team with his inability to catch simple passes (especially anything at his waist and below). Maybe we should get in contact with Lester Hayes?
- Watching Jahlil Okafor get beat by Timofey Mozgov down the court, after missing a jumper, was...ugh. It was a quiet and poor individual outing by Okafor outside the first quarter. However, it's the first sentence that bothered me more than anything about his overall play, to be honest.
- Robert Covington is slumping a bit. His shot isn't falling and he's fouling opponents way too much. I'll forgive him a bit tonight since his assignment was LeBron James, but if the Sixers want any shot in any given game, Cov has to make some sort of impact.
- The Sixers don't have a dependable wing player outside of a healthy Robert Covington. Hollis Thompson only does things in garbage time, apparently. Nik Stauskas is glued to the bench and looks lost when he isn't. Isaiah Canaan isn't a starting caliber SG. It's just brutal watching some of these players do absolutely nothing if their shot isn't falling. It's why I can live with JaKarr because at least he plays defense.
- Tony Wroten is the same player as last year and the year before. He's fun some times, but mostly frustrating the rest. While his ability to get to the basket is desirable, everything else about his game isn't. I really wanted to believe T-Wro could improve or change but he hasn't. As Derek Bodner has pointed out, Tony has more TOs than made FGs at the moment. I don't know how much longer this can last or how much the team will let it.
- Changes have to happen sooner or later. Losing is fine, getting blown out at this pace and severity is not. Management (Hinkie/Colangelo/whoever) will probably make a few roster transactions in the coming weeks, because I'm sure they realize this as well.