What the Sixers ended up doing with their roster was not some little change that will be forgotten about in a couple of months. No, they completely changed the current and future landscape of the organization, and it only took one move.
Trading Jrue Holiday.
Holiday became one of the NBA's elite young point guards during the 2012-13 season. He showed moderate improvement throughout his first three years in the league, but ended up surprising most by showing that he can handle being productive and a leader in his fourth season.
Let's be honest right now. Holiday was the Philadelphia 76ers future.
The key word there is "was" because he is now nothing but a memory as Philly looks to move forward. New general manager Sam Hinkie has made his intentions unbelievably clear. The man wants to break the Sixers down and build them back from the ground up. He wants it done with pieces he specifically picked to be there.
In a sense, Hinkie did not have any problem with taking four steps back in order to move eight steps forward down the line. Wes Szafran of the South Jersey Times listened to some of Hinkie's thoughts about Philadelphia's direction. Here is what he had to say:
The ownership here and the people in this organization have a real commitment to build something lasting and to build something big. Sometimes that requires taking risks, often it requires doing things a lot differently here and there and I think you’ve seen some of that play out. I think (draft night) is a summation of the kinds of things we’ll have to do moving forward. Try to find more players to be a pipeline of talent.
Sixers fans should be unbelievably excited about what Philadelphia's new leader is trying to do. Sure, nearly every move he's making carries a significant risk along with it. Still though, even trying and failing in a miserable fashion is better than the alternative.
Well, if it isn't better then it's certainly more entertaining.
The alternative is exactly what Philly fans have been a witness to for the past couple of years. It might be hard to admit for some, but the Sixers have been stuck in a pit of mediocrity for far too long.
If one of the only ways to escape such a place is for the team to make drastic changes, then Philadelphia is on the right track.
There is certainly talk of a difficult 2013-14 season, but it won't all be bad. Remember, Hinkie got rid of Holiday in order to get other pieces, and those pieces could end up turning into something special.
One of those pieces is Nerlens Noel.
Noel won't be an overnight success. Expect him to go through his fair share of growing pains, especially on the offensive end of the floor. He is still recovering from a torn left ACL so he will miss an extended period of time during his rookie season.
With all of that said, though, Noel has the potential to turn into a franchise-player at the center position. At the worst, he'll end up being a defensive stopper.
We can all work with that.
There was a reason why he was projected by some to be the No. 1 selection in the 2013 NBA draft. It won't happen immediately, but it's only a matter of time before Noel will show us all why his ceiling was that high.
Noel was a great selection in the draft, but Philadelphia also acquired the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick in the 2014 draft. If you skipped the beginning of this article and jumped right to here, then you missed out on a lot of talk about how rough of a season the Sixers will most likely end up facing.
Playing the waiting game is always a test of patience, but the wait might be easier knowing that Philly has a chance of getting two lottery picks in the 2014 draft. If there season goes bad enough, then one of those picks could be exceptionally high. Andrew Wiggins is the prized possession in next year's draft class, and though risky, Philadelphia has put themselves in position to grab him.
Losing now to win in the future is the name of the Sixers' current game. Whether you believe in that strategy or not is besides the point. It all comes down to if you believe in coming away with a good basketball team.
If you do, then you have every reason to be excited about Philadelphia and their future.
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