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A Simulated Path Into the Sixers’ Future(s): Part 1

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Every season when the newest version of NBA2k comes out, a bunch of people will simulate seasons and franchises for a fun way to take a look into a team’s future. I’m going to go ahead and assume none of those predicted a Markelle Fultz shoulder/whatever issue, that Jahlil Okafor trade, and elsewhere, the emergence of Donovan Mitchell (and the slow start to Lonzo Ball).

Now, we’re nearing the season’s midway point which gives us a couple of advantages. First, we’ve got built in records for nearly half of a season. Second, we’ve got updated rosters and ratings to lead to a more realistic sim. And finally, we’ve got the Sixers off for what seems like 32 days before and after their London game, which gives us plenty of time to delve into dumb stuff over the next couple of days. This is dumb, but I’m doing it.

Doing what exactly? I’m going to helm the Sixers from here forward, and do so until they win their first NBA title. I’m going to take a couple of different approaches and see which one works better, all while keeping notes and compiling them. The multi-verse is real, so there’s no reason to believe these next exact paths aren’t possible, I just hope I’m not condemning sentient digital Sixers to my whims.

In today’s post for Sim 1, I’ll be playing the GM role with patience. I’ll be making trades, responding to trade offers, signing free agents, offering contract extensions, etc, with the current path in mind for the most part. In Sim 2 coming later this week, I will be taking a 100% hands-off approach, allowing the game itself to run the Sixers’ day-to-day operations, never once stepping in to interfere (it’s not that hard, Adam). And in Sim 3, just before London, I’ll be gunning for it all. It’s win-now mode. I’m trying to sign LeBron, I’m trying to draft HIGH if I can, I’m firing the coach, no one is safe. Then there’s Sim 4. Sound good? Before we go ahead, a couple of quick notes:

  • I’ll be using downloaded draft classes (from NBA2kCreationz on PS4) for as far into the future as I can, and also turning on 2k’s storyline stuff with the prospects which should shuffle up the order of the picks a bit, leading to even more spinoff-universes.
  • I’ll have to play with “force trades” on because 2k doesn’t QUITE nail the protections on the Lakers/Kings picks. I will only be using force trade to ensure those picks behave the way they do in real life.
  • Additionally, to differentiate between Sim 1 and Sim 3, I will be firing Brett Brown ASAP in Sim 3. Why? Because it’s a simulation and we don’t have another Sixers game for a week so let’s get weird.

Each post will be it’s own part because these things take a pretty long time and if I crammed them all into one, it’ll be a near-unreadable barrage of words, transactions, and weirdness. So let’s go ahead with simulation number one. As a final note, if someone just vanishes from a depth chart with no note, I either cut them or didn’t pick up their option. Cool? Let’s go:

SIM 1 - PATIENCE IS KEY

2018

January (6-6)

  • Justin Anderson back for London, a 109-90 win.
  • Markelle Fultz back for January 18th, a 111-102 win over Boston. Fultz returns with 6 pts, 4 rebounds, 10 assists on 3-10 from the floor and 0-2 from three. Jerryd Bayless gets a DNP.
  • Richaun Holmes strains MCL (1-2 weeks).

February (9-2)

  • Trevor Booker broken leg (6-8) weeks.
  • Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid both All-Star reserves.

March (12-3)

  • Ben Simmons high ankle sprain (2-4 weeks).

April (4-3)

  • Joel Embiid twisted ankle (1-2 weeks).

Season Recap

  • Rookie of the Year - Ben Simmons
  • Ben Simmons All-NBA 3rd Team
  • Ben Simmons All-Rookie 1st Team
  • Joel Embiid 19.6 pts/9.5 rebounds/1.8 blocks
  • JJ Redick 16.1 pts on 44.5% from 3
  • Ben Simmons 15.7 pts/7.9 rebounds/6.9 assists
  • Markelle Fultz 10.4 pts/6.5 assists and 29.2% from 3 in 49 games (45 starts)

Playoffs?

4th seed in the East (48-34).

Swept Milwaukee in the first round just as Joel Embiid returned. Faced #1 seed Boston in the second, and had the series tied at 1-1 when Ben Simmons strained a left elbow ligament, knocking him out for 1-2 weeks. Sixers still won the series 4-2, and moved on to face the Cavaliers, fresh off of a 7-game series against the Wizards. Ben Simmons returned in time for game 1 and put up a 23/7/5 line. They swept the Cavs, losing JJ Redick for a couple of weeks due to a pulled lower back muscle. They now head to the NBA Finals to face a Warriors squad fresh off of a sweep of the Rockets.

They are swept.

Lottery

The Lakers enter in the 9th spot with a 1.7% shot at the number one overall pick. They stay in that spot, with the Bulls hopping up to #1, Kings at #2, Mavericks at #3. Sixers also have pick #22.

Draft

Michael Porter Jr. goes #1. Luka Doncic falls to Cleveland at #6. The Sixers use their #9 pick on serious Joel Embiid insurance: Mohamed Bamba. They use the #22 on the best player available: Grayson Allen. They snag Rawle Alkins in the 2nd round. The Sixers trade Jerryd Bayless and a lottery protected 2020 1st for a future first and second from Chicago

Free Agency

The Sixers pick up TJ McConnell’s option, and unfortunately LeBron James accepts his from the Cavs. JJ Redick goes to San Antonio. Kevin Durant and Paul George stay put. Sixers sign Kentavius Caldwell-Pope for 3 years, Ersan Ilyasova to the vet minimum for 1, and grab Nick Young for 2 years.

To pare down the roster, Sixers trade Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to the Suns for a 2021 1st, originally from Miami.

2019

PG - Ben Simmons, TJ McConnell
SG - Markelle Fultz, KCP, Rawle Alkins, Grayson Allen
SF - Robert Covington, Nick Young, Justin Anderson, Furkan Korkmaz
PF - Dario Saric, Ersan Ilyasova
C - Joel Embiid, Mo Bamba, Richaun Holmes

October/November (10-8)

  • TJ McConnell high ankle sprain (2-4 weeks).
  • Markelle Fultz broken ribs (1-2 weeks).

December (7-7)

  • Constant sub-par offers come in for Dario Saric, including Ricky Rubio straight up.

January (9-7)

  • TJ McConnell twisted right knee (day-to-day).
  • Celtics offer Terry Rozier and a first for Dario and a 2nd, which is declined for being unrealistic.
  • Markelle Fultz high ankle sprain (4-6 weeks).

February (12-0)

  • Mo Bamba broken left leg (8-10 weeks).
  • Joel Embiid bruised hip (2-4 weeks), though he plays through some of it.
  • Ben Simmons All-Star reserve and dunk contest participant.

March (10-3)

  • Sixers extend February’s 12 game win streak to 13 before losing one game and then going on another run of 8 straight. They end the month with a clinched playoff spot and the current #1 seed.

April (4-4)

  • KCP torn hand ligament (4-6 weeks).

Season Recap

  • DeAndre Ayton brings ROTY to Charlotte.
  • Joel Embiid 17.2 pts/8 rebounds/1.9 blocks
  • Ben Simmons 15.4 pts/7.3 rebounds/6.6 assists/1.4 steals
  • Robert Covington 11/5 pts/1.4 steals
  • Ersan Ilysasova 38.8% from 3
  • Markelle Fultz 8.5 pts/3.4 rebounds/6.1 assists shooting 36.2% from 3. 3rd in the NBA in assist ratio.

Playoffs

2nd seed in the East (53-29).

Elminated in 7 games to the #7 seed Boston Celtics, OKC beats the Bucks in 5 games for their first NBA title.

Lottery

The Kings were 3rd in the lottery, with a 15.6% chance at #1, they ended up at #5, sending that pick to Boston while the Sixers kept their own #26.

Draft

Sixers pick a made-up PF from UC Irvine.

Free Agency

Sixers trade KCP for Ike Anigbogu and a first round pick to shore up PF depth and clear cap to take a run a LeBron James. Bron stays in Cleveland again, and the Sixers pick up Will Barton on a 3-year deal. Grabbed Iman Shumpert to a minium one-year deal.

2020

PG - Ben Simmons (86), TJ McConnell (75)
SG - Markelle Fultz (81), Will Barton (77), Rawle Alkins (74)
SF - Robert Covington (81), Iman Shumpert (74), Nick Young (71)
PF - Dario Saric (80), Ike Anigbogu (73), Darius Reed (rookie, 68)
C - Joel Embiid (90), Mo Bamba (77), Richaun Holmes (76), Dante Kane (rookie, 69)

October/November (16-5)

  • Iman Shumpert right knee tendinitis (6-8 weeks).

December (13-3)

  • Christmas Day game at home against Orlando.

January (11-1)

  • Ben Simmons right shoulder tendinitis (6-8 weeks). Sixers sign Dante Exum out of the G-League to serve as TJ McConnell’s backup while Simmons is out.

February (7-4)

  • Ike Anigbogu ankle sprain (1-2 weeks).
  • 47-12 at the All-Star Break, best record in the NBA.
  • Simmons and Embiid All-Stars
  • Will Barton broken leg (6-8 weeks).

March (6-7)

  • Clinched playoff berth on March 2nd.
  • Embiid back spasms (1-2 weeks).

April (3-6)

  • TJ dislocated patalla (out for season).

Season Recap

  • Coach of the Year - Brett Brown
  • Embiid 17.1 pts/7.8 reb/1.9 blocks (5th in the NBA)
  • Saric 93.2% from the line (4th in the NBA)
  • Simmons 14.2 pts/6.7 rebounds/6.9 assists on 56.% from the floor
  • Covington 14.4 pts on 42.1% from 3
  • Fultz 10 pts/6.9 assists on 50% from 3 (total 84 attempts in 81 games), 8th best pure point rating in the NBA
  • TJ McConnell 4th best assist ratio in the NBA

Playoffs

2nd seed in the east (57-25).

Faced Atlanta in the 1st round and won in 7. Faced Chicago in the 2nd and won in 6. Faced Boston next and won in 7. Advanced on to the finals and faced off against Houston. Went up 3-0. Went to game 7. Ben Simmons won MVP of the finals.

Your 2020 NBA Champions, the Philadelphia 76ers.

So there you have it. With the patient approach in a very specific situation in NBA2k18, the Philadelphia 76ers are your 2020 NBA Champions.

Later this week we’ll take a totally hands-off approach, a win-now approach, a pure mayhem approach, and perhaps another. Tune in for the next one when I hopefully also remember to take screengrabs.

Post Script: As I finished this, LaMelo Ball went #4 for Dallas in 2021.