Perspective is always an important thing to have as a fan.
Sure, the Sixers’ inability to get out of the second round has been infuriating, but look at the team’s success relative to the Process era.
Since 2017-18, Ben Simmons’ rookie year, the Sixers have won 50 games in four of the last six seasons (it would’ve assuredly been five of six, and maybe even six of six, if not for COVID). They’ve won a playoff round in five of six seasons.
And they look poised to do both things again under Nick Nurse in 2023-24 —they’re off to their best 30-game start (21-9) since Allen Iverson led the team to the Finals in 2000-2001.
There was a time not that long ago when the Sixers couldn’t win 50 games in three seasons combined ... literally! During the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, the Sixers won a total of 47 games. Amidst all that losing, they set two infamous NBA records: longest single-season losing streak and longest combined season losing streak.
Thanks to the 2023-24 Detroit Pistons, one of those records has already fallen. Looking ahead, the other could be erased by the weekend.
The Pistons lost to the Brooklyn Nets Tuesday night, their 27th straight. That broke the 2013-14 Sixers’ single-season record of 26.
Just for kicks, let’s look back on that team.
The Sixers had just beaten the Boston Celtics in a 95-94 thriller on Jan. 29, 2014. If you don’t recall, the Celtics were also actively tanking that season, as they finished the year 25-57.
The Sixers’ leading scorer that night? Spencer Hawes, of course! Hawes had 20 while Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young had 16 apiece. All five starters finished with double digits that night as James Anderson had 13 and Michael Carter-Williams had 10. The bench was filled with Process legends Tony Wroten, Dewayne Dedmon, Hollis Thompson and Elliot Williams. Lavoy Allen was a holdover from the previous regime.
On Jan. 31, an ugly loss to the Hawks began one of the ugliest stretches of basketball the world has ever seen. As the losses mounted into February, Hinkie truly blew things up by dealing all of Turner, Hawes and Allen ahead of the trade deadline.
Then, on March 29, it happened. The Sixers won a game against ... the Detroit Pistons. How can you not be romantic about sports? Thanks to 21 points apiece from Young (who was still on this team?) and MCW, Philly topped Detroit.
After finishing 19-63, the Sixers were awarded the third overall pick. A center from Kansas by the name of Joel Embiid fell into their laps after the Cavaliers picked Andrew Wiggins and the Bucks selected Jabari Parker. The rest is history.
The Sixers lost plenty of games in 2014-15, including 10 in a row to close the year after moving Young the previous offseason and MCW before the deadline. That spilled over into the following season, where the Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor front court suffered an 18-game losing streak to start the season. As you’ll recall Adam Silver had seen enough, sending the Colangelos in to basically destroy all the good Hinkie had done while putting their own shitty twist on things.
That streak was halted by a win over the Lakers during Kobe Bryant’s final game in Philly. A player by the name of Robert Covington put up a game-high 23 points that night. That Sixers team would go on to win just nine more games, finishing with the second-worst record in NBA history at 10-72. The worst record still belongs to the Sixers’ franchise, with the 1972-73 team finishing 9-73.
The current Pistons next play the Celtics on Thursday, attempting to NOT tie the streak (lol). That’s followed by a potentially winnable game (in the sense that it doesn’t seem impossible) against the Toronto Raptors where they’ll likely be trying to stave off history.
But let’s be clear: what the Sixers did and what the Pistons are doing is vastly different. When the Sixers lost all those games, Embiid was hurt. Even Simmons was hurt during what would’ve been his rookie year. They also had Brett Brown as head coach, known for his years as an expert player development guy with the Spurs. Hinkie built those teams with the goal of losing games to acquire high draft picks.
Detroit’s high draft picks are all healthy and playing. They have Monty Williams, a guy that made the NBA Finals in Phoenix not that long ago, as head coach. The Sixers were openly tanking. Troy Weaver and the Pistons are just inept.
For that reason, it feels justified that the Pistons should wear this streak.
And maybe even challenge the 9-73 Sixers’ record of futility.
We’ll see if Silver decides to send a Colangelo to “save the day” this time around.