The Philadelphia 76ers are four games away from completing one of the most pathetic seasons of all time.
While they should be better next season, if only due to the maturation of point guard Michael Carter-Williams and the addition of big man Nerlens Noel, who missed the entire season recovering from ACL surgery, head coach Brett Brown is still under the impression that the franchise needs to find a legitimate star in the 2014 draft, per the Bucks County Courier Times' Tom Moore:
I think it's important. I think it's really important.
Stars want to play with stars. And it's too early to say anything about Michael (Carter-Williams) or what you can project Nerlens (Noel) out to be. Just because somebody's chosen high in the draft doesn't mean they're going to be a star, either.
Assuming they lose those final games, the Sixers will finish at 17-65, one game ahead of (behind?) the 1995-96 squad as the second-worst in franchise history. Philadelphia also has the dubious distinction of having the team with the second-most losses in NBA history, as the 1972-73 club finished with a 9-73 record.
What do both the '72-'73 and the '95-'96 campaigns have in common? In both cases, the Sixers made the NBA Finals within five years.
The 1970s Sixers acquired their star via trade, as they were able to pry Hall of Famer Julius Erving away from the Brooklyn Nets after the franchise made the transition from the ABA. They made the Finals in the 1976-77 season, losing to the Portland Trail Blazers.
The 1995-96 club were bad (and lucky) enough to earn the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft lottery, and they used that selection on a player whose name Philly fans might remember: Allen Iverson, from Georgetown University. A.I. would win the 2000-01 league MVP en route to leading the Sixers to the 2001 Finals, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Obviously, Brown and general manager Sam Hinkie are trying to go the same route as the 1996 Sixers—by earning a high pick and selecting a bone fide superstar on par with Iverson. If they finished with the league's second-worst record, Philly would have a 19.9 percent shot at the No. 1 overall pick and a 55.8 percent chance to choose in the top three. They also own five second-round selections.
While there will be several big-time players available in the 2014 draft, there is a possibility that the talent pool will end up a bit more shallow than previously believed, per Moore:
One potential top-three pick, talented Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker, who said he might come back to school after an early NCAA tournament exit, has arranged housing for his sophomore year, according to a Duke source. While that doesn't mean he'll stay, it shows he's seriously considering remaining a Blue Devil for another season.
Even if Parker stays in school, the Sixers have a chance to draft a true franchise-changing talent, like Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. This franchise had better hope they find the star they've been looking for.