Watching the Sixers struggle was never much fun, but the torture is officially over. It's time to look at the future in a positive way and understand that the cup is half-full.
Remember—Philadelphia tanked for a reason. Hopefully it's time to get rewarded for that.
In order to officially understand how to use the rewards, we must first understand what areas need work. It wouldn't make sense to get a new tire if the car only needs a new air conditioner, right? Philly needs to take this same approach when looking to improve.
We learned a lot about this team this year. Even with all of the bad the Sixers were able to find some good. Here are the most important lessons to take away from Philadelphia this past season.
Sam Hinkie Has a Way of Finding Gold
Sam Hinkie did an exceptional job in his first year as Philadelphia's general manager.
From selecting the NBA's Rookie of the Year with the No. 11 pick in the draft, to trading away Spencer Hawes and acquiring a gem who hadn't been given a fair shot, to making the decision to hire Brett Brown as the head coach, Hinkie made all of the right decisions.
Getting Henry Sims during the Hawes trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers didn't seem like a big deal at the time. This was a guy who was averaging 2.2 points and 2.8 rebounds while playing 8.4 minutes per game in Cleveland.
Who would have thought Sims would end the season averaging 11.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 0.9 steals per game? Probably not even Hinkie.
It would have been easy for Brett Brown to be unrealistic about what was taking place this season and let it get in the way of his own personal growth, but that's not what happened. Instead, Brown showed his true character with quotes like the one he gave John Finger of CSNPhilly.com regarding his teams numerous losses:
It’s painful. But we move on. We don’t want sympathy and we don’t want a pity party. We sleep at night.
He never once felt sorry for himself or the team. He knew that Philadelphia was in a transition period and that the future has the potential to be much better than what was taking place during his first year.
Hinkie gave Brown his first shot at an NBA head coaching position, and it couldn't have gone to a better guy.
Finally, there's the choice of selecting Michael Carter-Williams in the draft—more about him to come.
Philadelphia Has Its Point Guard of the Future
There's no doubt about it; Michael Carter-Williams is the right guy to lead Philadelphia at point guard for years to come.
Prior to the 2013-14 season, the Sixers—and probably their fans, too—believed they had their point guard of the future in Jrue Holiday. He had already completed his fourth season in the NBA and was coming off of his first All-Star appearance. At the time, he seemed like the only player on Philadelphia's roster whom the team wouldn't dare trade.
Then the unthinkable happened.
Trading away Holiday for Nerlens Noel and a potential 2014 first-round pick seemed ridiculous at the time. Selecting Carter-Williams didn't even feel like a consolation prize—it truly felt like the Sixers got rid of the most important part of their future.
Then Carter-Williams stepped onto the court in Philadelphia.
Compare his rookie year with Holiday's All-Star season, and you see that Philadelphia didn't downgrade at all. In fact, it seems as though they upgraded:
Jrue Holiday (All-Star Year)
Michael Carter-Williams (Rookie Year)
The interesting part about the similarity in the numbers is that both were 22 years old, but one was in his fourth season. Some might say it means Holiday has even more room to grow, but his 2013-14 numbers were slightly worse—contradicting that viewpoint.
The correct way of looking at it is while Holiday's numbers might still improve, Carter-Williams' have a chance to improve even more due to his lack of NBA experience.
While there are players who get off to great starts yet struggle later in their careers, the vast majority only get better as they gain experience. There's no reason to think that Carter-Williams can't do exactly that.
He put up amazing numbers without an exceptional ability to shoot or take care of the basketball. Give him some time to hone those skills and he has the chance to be an incredibly special player.
It's early in Carter-Williams' career, but not too early to say that Philadelphia has its point guard of the future.
Tanking Better Not Become a Regular Occurrence
The anticipation for May 20 and finding out what pick (or picks) the Sixers will get in the draft is more than exciting.
The result will be crucial as to the direction Philadelphia ends up heading as a franchise. Having such a bad season was necessary, but it better not become something that happens consistently.
The 2013-14 season was incredibly difficult to get through. Wanting the Sixers to end up on the wrong side of the box score never felt like the right thing to do, regardless of the importance of losing.
Philadelphia hasn't been in the NBA finals since the 2001 season. However, it has also been awhile since they were at the bottom of the league.
Regularly ending the season in that position would be too much for Sixers fans to endure.
Lesson learned Philadelphia, now let’s move forward.
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