The Sixers aren’t living up to expectations so far this season and it’s causing some major frustration among the fans. Many of the issues that were overlooked in the offseason are starting to cause real problems that the team hasn’t been able to fix, leading to several blowout losses and upsets through the first half of the year. Obviously, the lack of production on the court is the main reason why the Sixers have been underwhelming, but there are other causes that have a hand in the team not being the best they can be.
Right now, neither the team nor fans are having fun; the problem could be as simple as that. In years past, it felt like fans were accustomed to more lively performances at the Wells Fargo Center. This year, it feels like business. I’m not saying that a trip to watch the Sixers play in Philadelphia is no longer fun, but the team has a different energy surrounding them and it’s that they’re focused on winning. The results aren’t exactly matching up with what the team is showing fans, but they do seem more locked in and aren't worried about having big personalities.
Aside from being labeled as the bullies of the league because of how big the Sixers are, it doesn’t feel like they have much of a personality. I think that’s where a lot of these issues stem from. Fans are still heavily involved, but there feels like somewhat of a disconnect between the team and the fans. There is no Robert Covington to pump up fans for the Frosty Freeze-Out, there is no Dario Saric to be lovingly clumsy on the court at all times, and there is no more T.J. McConnell to be the lovable hardo that brings some juice to the team when they are lacking.
However, just because there aren’t these types of guys on the team anymore doesn’t mean that the team is boring. The additions made in the offseason were looked at for their play on the court, but they have also brought a new mentality off the court with them that I don't think many fans are appreciating enough. Players like Josh Richardson and Al Horford were thrown onto a team ready to compete for a championship. They didn't spend prior years here where fans grew to love them. We are adjusting to them just as they are adjusting to their roles on the team.
For a team with as much roster turnover as the Sixers have had the last few years, there is no question that some fans might not feel a strong connection. They haven’t been given the time to really connect with some of these players before they’re suddenly gone again. The hope is that the major changes are now done, and with a team full of players on multi-year deals, fans can now grow more comfortable with the group and get behind them like the teams filled with OG Processors.
Josh Richardson has been a nice addition to the starting lineup this season. He has added some shooting to a lineup that desperately needed it, the ability to defend either guard position, and as our own Kevin Rice has stated, is a big fan of yelling to pump up his team.
JRich already yelling a lot. Gonna be a good game.— kevin rice (@TheKevinRice) December 21, 2019
Al Horford, on the other hand, has struggled to fit in on this Sixers team. His play has fluctuated from helpful to unplayable next to Joel Embiid, but one thing that hasn’t changed is his ability to play the role of team dad.
Jayson Tatum: Dad!— Matt “New Years” del Rio (@mdelNBA) November 3, 2019
Al Horford: [turns and walks away]
Furkan Korkmaz: Dad!
Al Horford: [lifts him up in the air] My son!!!!!!
Last but not least, you can’t forget about Philadelphia’s newest smiley child Matisse Thybulle. He’s been a bright spot both on and off the court, as he has transitioned nicely into his role of defensive master off the bench. He might need to work on his food delivery skills though.
This isn’t the same team it was with RoCo, Dario and T.J. and that’s just a fact. This team is trying to navigate playing a completely different style of basketball than the rest of the league, while trying to win a championship and give off good vibes all at the same time. It’s hard, they’re in a rut, and fans are frustrated for good reason, but if fans can start to appreciate some of the little things about this team like Horford’s dadness and Richardson’s elite grifting, maybe the feeling around this team will change just a bit.
These aren’t the teams of the Process that lost a lot, but still had fun. They’re going all in for a championship. That doesn’t mean they aren’t having fun while doing it, we just haven’t been paying close enough attention.