Future Looks Bleak for a Once-Promising Sixers Squad

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 16:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat is fouled by Andre Iguodala #9 of the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 16, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Heat won 84-78. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

How quickly things change. After starting the season 20-9, the Sixers were the talk not only of the town but of the entire NBA. They dominated weekly power rankings and weak opponents, and showed that team basketball and team defense were enough to overcome the lack of a superstar.

Now, the Sixers are a meager 29-24. Since February 15th, the Sixers are 9-15 and have fallen out of the lead in the Atlantic Division. The Boston Celtics are hitting their stride at the perfect time, and the Knicks, while in a state of flux, are hanging onto the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, just two and a half games behind the 76ers.

A year ago, the Sixers were hitting their stride at this time, closing out the season on a high note before entering a first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat.

The way things are going this year, Sixers' fans can see what lies ahead. With 9 of their 13 reaming games slated to be played on the road, the Sixers shouldn't count on a division title that appeared to be theirs for the taking.

The Sixers are 10-14 on the road this season, and while their remaining opponents don't all boast winning records, none of the games are sure wins. While they do get to play the likes of the Nets three times in the next three weeks, the Celtics are playing too well to relinquish their hold on the Atlantic.

Instead of worrying about a division title, fans should be more concerned about the future of this once-promising squad. The Sixers clearly have a solid young core of players, but if they don't make changes to their roster they may remain stuck in basketball purgatory for years to come.

While it was easy to argue against not having a superstar when the Sixers were hot early on, it has become evident that they don't possess a consistent scoring threat outside of Sixth Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams.

It's clear that a superstar could propel the Sixers into the upper echelon of Eastern Conference powers, but the real question is: what superstar would be willing to come to Philadelphia?

Deron Williams' list of suitors includes a host of perennial playoff contenders, and the scoring threat they desperately needed in Monta Ellis was recently dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks at the trade deadline.

Until the Sixers can find a player capable of carrying the load and coming up big in the clutch, this squad is destined for yearly run-ins with the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.