While the 2015-16 campaign has brought more disappointment than excitement for the Philadelphia 76ers, many fans are looking forward to 2016-17 as the season the team will finally get on track. With the prospect of Joel Embiid finally being healthy, Dario Saric making the move stateside and three first-round picks (plus an outside shot at a fourth via the Los Angeles Lakers), it's not too crazy to think the Sixers could have a quick turnaround.
Head coach Brett Brown was on the WIP Morning Show Tuesday morning, and suggested that fans should slow their roll when it comes to expecting big things next season. The quotes, which were transcribed by Andrew Porter, are below:
I think that what we do with the uncertainty of the draft picks — we understand the quantity that we could have," Brown said. "The playing out of Dario Saric. I feel like everybody in this city has got to be a little be tolerant and patient with Joel Embiid. He hasn’t played basketball, in what? Two and a half years.
I think the dramatic increase in the win column — and people can associate whatever number they think dramatic means — I think it’s a little bit unrealistic," Brown told the 94WIP Morning Show on Tuesday. "I feel like what we’re gonna see next year is, everybody is going to step back and take a deep breath and sort of see and touch and feel a true foundation. Right now, we don’t see it or it feel it as much. I think next year we will."
That's not an entirely shocking thing to hear from a coach who has had to deal with the disappointment of watching Joel Embiid sit out for two seasons and seeing Michael Carter-Williams shipped off to another team. Building this team's core has been far from easy, and Embiid's health and Saric's contract situation are far from formalities right now. Even if those two are ready to play for the Sixers next year, it's going to take some time to establish the best fit as well as chemistry.
But with that said, there's a chance for the Sixers to finally have some pieces that could legitimately co-exist.. There will certainly be an adjustment period for the 21-year-old Saric, but his ability to stretch the floor makes him a natural fit next to any one of the Sixers big men. If the Sixers can get their hands on Duke's Brandon Ingram in June's draft, he has the potential to be their wing scorer of the future.
Jerry Colangelo has also made it pretty clear that the Sixers are going to spend some money on free agents this summer, meaning a lot of the rebuild fodder will be seeking employment elsewhere, and they'll be replaced by some legitimate NBA talent.
I think it's pretty unlikely the Sixers are going to sniff even the eighth seed next season given how vastly improved the Eastern Conference has become, but the anticipated talent on next year's roster is too much for them to be remotely close to as bad as they are this year.
It's understandable that Brett Brown doesn't want to rile the city up in case something goes awry like it has in the past, but somewhere around 25-30 wins seems pretty fair, provided this summer plays out as anticipated. That would make for a pretty good season, as depressing as that may sound.