Friday, March 21, 2014

Are the 76ers "Tanking" or do they Actually Suck?

Year in and year out, fans witness teams in all leagues appear to "give up" or "not try to win."  With the 2014 NBA Draft appearing to be one of the strongest and deepest in recent times, it appeared from the beginning that some teams would attempt to purposely lose in order to have the opportunity to draft a talent like Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker.  This past week, the Philadelphia 76ers lost a franchise-record, twenty-one straight games.  The question is:  Are they tanking on purpose, or are they actually a bad team?

At the trade deadline, the 76ers dealt two starters (Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner) and received draft picks and salary space in return.  This is a true sign of rebuilding, but a fan would not be able to see that the way Philly began the season by winning their first three games of the season, including one against the Heat.  However, the last time the 76ers won a game was January 29 in Boston...ALMOST TWO MONTHS AGO!

As a basketball fan living in Philadelphia, I tend to check up on the team.  However, I can honestly say I do not even know the majority of the players on their team...neither do many Sixers 'fans'.  The Sixers currently have six rookies on their roster and no player with more than than four years of experience (not named Thad Young or Jason Richardson).  This is definitely a recipe for rebuilding a franchise that has seen many better days (especially when they used to win games).  Unfortunately for fans, in order to rebuild, a team must lose before they are able to win on a consistent basis (i.e. Oklahoma City, Golden State, Clippers, Portland).  Because of the lack of experienced players, it appears the Sixers are truly a terrible team.

On the other hand, many of the past twenty-one losses have not exactly been close.  In a two-day span, the Sixers lost by a total of eighty-eight (88) points to the Clippers and Warriors...that is embarrassing.  That was after losing only five in a row.  But I think we can give the Sixers a break because they lost badly away to two Western Conference playoff teams.  But to be blown out at home to the lowly Sacramento Kings?  That sounds like the players just gave up to me.

It can be easy to tell if a team is trying to lose on purpose.  Let's take the 1919 Chicago White Sox for example.  Eight White Sox players were accused of taking money in order to throw the World Series  Pitcher "Lefty" Williams posted a 2.64 ERA during the regular season but an atrocious 6.61 in three losses during the World Series.  As for hitters, Chick Gandil hit for .290 during the regular season but only .233 during the World Series.  After the fact, the eight players were found guilty of throwing the World Series and all eight of the players involved were banned from baseball.

Unlike the White Sox, the Sixers would be losing to earn the high draft pick, not money.  But by watching them play, I firmly believe the Sixers are a team lacking quality.  It can be seen in the way they are playing that the players are giving their effort, they just do not have any players of quality and experience (minus Thad Young).  Michael Carter-Williams is going to be a very basketball player and when Nerlens Noel comes back, they can be a duo similar to Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan in terms of "Lob City 2".

Unfortunately for the Sixers, I think it will take several years before they become a playoff team again.  During either this draft or next year, Thad Young will possibly be traded for a first round pick (he is coming into his prime and could prove a valuable addition to a playoff team); Philly will continue to receive lottery picks; and maybe if they are lucky, can even win the lottery.  By drafting a quality small forward and shooting guard with their two first round picks, they will be able to add young talent that will be able to gel within the next couple of years.  And even throughout this rough season, there is still a silver lining:  They have a better record than the Milwaukee Bucks.

Micah Sokolsky is a Pre-Junior Sport Management major at Drexel University with minors in Spanish and Business.  Micah hails from San Francisco, CA and was a participant on Drexel Sport Management’s College Sport Research Institute (CSRI) team last year in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 2013.  Micah completed his first co-op with the Camden Riversharks minor league baseball team in their Marketing and Promotions department.  A member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, Micah is involved on campus as the Athletics Chairman for the Inter-Fraternity Council and as a Resident Assistant in Race Hall. Connect with Micah on LinkedIn.

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