• Tale of Two Seasons

    Earlier this season I wrote a piece for Real Ball Insiders about the roller coaster of Sixers fandom.  That assertion could not hold more true for this season.

    There have really been two extraordinarily different teams on the court for the Sixers this year.  You have the October to February Sixers with Joel Embiid that played so well we were talking about grabbing the eighth seed.  My god, take me back to that magical place.  Then we have the Sixers team that has played the rest of the season.  The Sixers team that has gone into full tank mode but has seen the rise of Dario Saric (yes, he did come over) and the continued great play of Robert Covington, one of the best wing defenders in the league.

    Earlier I mentioned that “roller coaster ride” that is Sixers fandom and that ride started back in training camp.  Ben Simmons went down with a foot injury that, if you remember, was only going to hold him out until January.  Man, am I a fool.  I once described the past four years of injuries and misfortune of Sixers basketball as a classic Peanuts scene.  I am Charlie Brown and the Sixers are Lucy holding that football.  I Know that I am going to kick that ball and the Sixers pull it away from me each time and I just never learn.  Well, the Ben Simmons thing was definitely that.

    Then when the season got underway, things could not have been any better.  Sure, was watching Embiid only play 28 minutes a night and not play back-to-backs annoying?  Sure it was, but you knew you were getting something great in those 28 minutes.  One of my favorite stats was that when Embiid was on the court the Sixers had a point differential of a 56 win team and when he was off the court they had a pint differential of an 11 win team.  That impact by a rookie is incredible.

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    Then just as everything seemed like it was going smoothly, Joel Embiid has a weird landing against the Portland Trailblazers.  The big man suffered a torn meniscus, which was originally diagnosed as a bone bruise, and the team let him play in another game against Houston.  That seemed to be the start of “whatever could go wrong did go wrong” with this Sixers season.  Before long, we would receive news that Ben Simmons would not play a game this season, marking the fourth year in a row that a Sixers draft pick would not suit up for an entire season.  Then, Bryan Colangelo traded away Nerlens Noel for season 3 of Shark Tank on DVD citing that “it’s his favorite season.”

    There is one positive thing that may have been the reason this trade was made.  Colangelo may have thought that he would have to pay one of two guys, Nerlens Noel or Robert Covington.  Covington will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season, and as a legitimate “3 and D” wing he will make at least $15 million a year.  If that was the motivation behind trading Noel, I am completely on board with it.  I think Robert Covington is a key piece moving forward and will provide a lot of value for Brett Brown as the primary wing defender.

    The second half of this season has had a major bright spot amid all of the darkness and that bright spot’s name is Dario Saric.  Saric has shown why he was named “the best player not in the NBA” by NBA GM’s the past two seasons.  Over the previous 18 games, Saric has averaged 20 points and 8 rebounds per game, showing why he should win the 2016-2017 Rookie of the Year.  The trick for Brett Brown over the next couple of years will be to find a way to give Dario Saric the right amount of minutes since he will be coming off the bench due to Ben Simmons playing the same position as him.  With the recent downturn of luck for this franchise, an upswing is soon to come.  Hopefully, that can be at the NBA draft lottery.

    Charles Scalies

    Finance major at Saint Joseph's University and biggest advocate for Jakarr Sampson on the internet today

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