Having spent almost an entire decade mired in Mediocracy (TM), the new Sixers regime is as determined as I am to avoid the quicksandian middle going forward. The Andrew Bynum trade, then the Jrue Holiday trade, then letting semi-able veterans walk or leave via trade indicates as much. A 19-63 record with two lottery picks sets the Sixers up nicely, even if it'll take 2-3-4 years before the team makes serious noise.
So as I'm about to compare the Sixers to every other team in the NBA, keep in mind that these are primarily based on my values of how close a franchise is to contending now and in the future. Anything in the middle or destined for the middle is not something I'm interested in. Mediocrity is a flat circle.
This is going to be which franchises I'd switch places with right now and which I wouldn't. That includes the front office and draft picks and all that, not just players. Not cities though, I think that complicates things in a weird way. OK. Diving in. Apologies in advance.
NO CHANCE IN HELL (6)
Love Giannis, but I'm not touching the Bucks with a 7-foot Larry Sanders piece. That was a lot to unpack. Oh god, again. Knicks are the worst. Pistons are the worst. Lakers have flexibility but that Kobe contract is just murder. Bless the Bobcats, but they're not going anywhere. And the Hawks are the Hawks.
EHHH BUT STILL NO (6)
Like a whole lot of things about the Cavs, but from an organizational standpoint, I'm steering verrrrrry far from them. Brooklyn, old. Kings, I'm intrigued by enough of the weirdness to laugh about it, but also no. Love my Utah Jazz, but at what point do we accept Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter like, aren't very good. If they overpay Gordon Hayward, that could be tres unfortunate. Denver has some fun pieces (Quincy Miller and Evan Fournier, obvs) but too much mediocrity for my liking. Minnesota is gonna lose Kevin Love, and though I adore Ricky Rubio, I don't think that team does much over the next five years.
OKAY LIKE A HARD MAYBE... BUT NAH I CAN'T (9)
Orlando Magic - They've got a bunch of picks in the tank (Denver's 2014, Lakers' 2017, Sixers whenever that gets delivered) and a GM that seems to be worth it, but none of the pieces currently in place have me jazzed outside of maybe Victor Oladipo. I don't think our old friend Nikola Vucevic is a contending center. Do Jameer and Afflalo come back next year? Harkless doesn't seem like much. This is basically like the Sixers only with a less blank slate. They certainly have better players now, but I trust the Sixers' unknown more than the known in Orlando. It's like Deal or No Deal, where Deal is, like, pretty good hash browns. I want eggs benedict, homie. NO DEAL.
Boston Celtics - Sorta the same as Orlando. Another team loaded with picks in the pipe, but I'd bet Ainge isn't going to be as patient as he should be. Rajon Rondo should probably be traded, but Ainge will try to build another contender around him. Jeff Green isn't good enough to be one of those guys. Gerald Wallace is still there. I'm not excited by anybody currently on that team.
Washington Wizards - I like John Wall, but yikes to maxing him out early. Brad Beal is great, but probably not great enough. I like watching Gortat and Nene play high-low ball. Webster and Ariza are fun, interchangeable wings. I want Otto Porter to be better. They may even make the Eastern Conference Finals this year, if things shake out well for them. But they don't have a pick this year and I can't see a real contender here. Plus, oh god that management.
Chicago Bulls - Admirable that they're here after the Derrick Rose injury and Luol Deng trade. Have totally fallen in love with Joakim Noah the last few years. Jimmy Butler is great. Boozer should be amnestied if ownership decides not to be cheap. Taj Gibson is probably making too much. I mean this team is perfect for what they are, I just don't want to be what they are -- if D-Rose is healthy, it's a different story. I don't know if that will ever exist again. Pass on a second round exit.
Toronto Raptors - Masai wanted a good draft pick so bad, but the East wanted it more. So now they're ECF contenders and lacking any real championship pieces outside of maybe Jonas? DeRozan's been good. Lowry's gone. Ross should be better. I think this team is a vagrant. Trust Ujiri, but where do they go after this year, really?
New Orleans Pelicans - Anthony Davis, Anthony Davis, Anthony Davis, Anthony Davis. Hi Jrue. Dunno what happens with Gordon or Tyreke or Ryan Anderson. But man, Anthony Davis. He makes it close on his own. But I'd still pass.
Dallas Mavericks - Like, good for them and all, but Dirk is actually getting older. He has to be. The rest of the team is bleh.
Memphis Grizzlies - I'll probably take the most shit for this one and the next one. I just don't see a contender here. I like a lot of these players. I think they'll continue to push people around in the playoffs this year and next year. But then what? They're paying a lot of people after this year to hover around that 7-seed. Where do they go when Marc Gasol is due for a new contract? They're obviously so much better than the Sixers, but I'd just rather have the blank slate.
Phoenix Suns - Okay, this one is a pure philosophical thing for me. They've got a ton of assets and a ton of weapons, but I just tend to think more black and white about contending. They're Houston-esque in their ability to make a James Harden-like trade in the coming offseason or two. But I don't see any players who qualify as good enough to be that. No stars are coming to Phoenix to play with Eric Bledsoe or Goran Dragic or because of the training staff. I like McDonough. I like Hornacek. I like the mess of picks they have. I just don't see what the plan is. And that's more of a personal thing for me than it is an indictment on the Suns. They're staying flexible to make a play for a star, I just don't see who that star is, and they won't be bad enough to draft one. Maybe they package picks and assets and move up? Could be. I may regret this, but for now, gimme the best chance at getting a stud, and that's with the Sixers.
YEAH I GOTTA (8)
Golden State Warriors - Steph. Dre. I can't say no to that. I think with a healthy Bogut (oof), they're legit contenders right now.
Portland Trail Blazers - Too much fun. In some ways, lacking a true star, but the combo of Dame and LMA and the rest -- I can't say no to that right now. Think they're contendable.
Houston Rockets - Dwight and James and Chandler. Sixers West. Gotta.
Los Angeles Clippers - Pretty obvious.
Oklahoma City Thunder - Really obvious.
San Antonio Spurs - Well.
Miami Heat - Yeah.
Indiana Pacers - So this is the one I was on the fence about from this end. I think there's been some aberrational elements to this season, specifically the last few months, and of course one of those has been Evan Turner. But I think the combination of Paul George and Roy Hibbert and a really strong defensive system is still worth it. I like George Hill in a vacuum, but man, this team really needs a point guard. Would say Elfrid Payton, but they don't have a first-rounder this year. It's close. But I side with Paul George and would make this switch.
This'll all change after the playoffs and lottery and draft, but at this point, 44 games under .500, I would only trade places with eight organizations. That's either indicative of my delusions of grandeur with Sam Hinkie and The Plan or.... no that's what it is. I've bought in. I've become a company man in less than a year.
Are you as deluded as I am? Which teams would you switch places with?