For the past seven years, 76ers fans have yet to see their team make it past the first round of the playoffs.
Year after year, the Sixers have been a mediocre team, until last year, when their whole season fell apart.
Yet even though they had their worst record in 13 years last season, a very good thing happened to the franchise as a result of it.
The Sixers were so bad that they were one of the top teams in the draft lottery, a system that ultimately decides what pick in the draft each bottom team gets.
Philadelphia got lucky, landing the second overall pick for the draft, which eventually turned out to be future superstar Evan Turner.
Of all American sports that use a draft system, the NBA draft is the one that is most important to its respective league. In no other sport do the top draft picks immediately become the face of the franchise as many top draft picks of the past few years have become (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, etc…).
Even in the NFL, top picks do not immediately become superstars. Early picks such as Matthew Stafford, JaMarcus Russell, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jonathan Stewart, Ted Ginn Jr., Marshawn Lynch, Brady Quinn, Reggie Bush, and Vince Young still have not developed into face-of-the-franchise players that they were supposed to be.
Even top players that have worked out do not make the immediate impact and big presence that NBA draft picks do on their teams, considering how many more players there are on an NFL team.
Because there can only be 12 active players on an NBA roster at once, each individual NBA player means a lot more to their team than in any other sport.
That is why the draft can immediately fill in a team’s holes with top players.
In what other sport can a top player be taken away and the whole team becomes ruined? The Eagles could manage without Michael Vick because of their depth, but do you think that the Lakers would be the team they are without Kobe Bryant?
In the NBA, making the playoffs is not the accomplishment that it is in other sports. 16 out of the 30 NBA teams make the playoffs, opposed to 12 out of 32 in the NFL and 8 out of 30 in the MLB.
A team does not deserve praise if they are only better than half of the teams.
In the Sixers’ nine years since being in the finals, they have made the playoffs five times. These years have been considered a major disappointment for this Sixers franchise, even though they have made the playoffs more than half of the time.
In the way that the NBA system works today, the worst possible thing for a team to do is make the playoffs, and then lose in the first round.
There is no accomplishment for making the playoffs, and playoff teams do not qualify for the top lottery draft picks.
So for a team like the Sixers, who have had a recent history of losing their first round playoff games and then getting a mediocre draft pick, losing is the best thing that can happen for them.
A team is not going to rebuild quickly without the help of good, young talent, and this is what Sixers fans have seen from them throughout the past few years. Mediocre draft picks have gotten the team players such as Jrue Holliday, Marreese Speights, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, Andre Iguadala, and the list goes on and on.
All of the above listed are not bad complimentary players, but in no way can a team be built around them.
None of these players have any reputation of being winners or possessing the ability to carry a team.
This brings us back to the result of last season. As an outcome of having an awful record, the Sixers got to draft their franchise player, Evan Turner.
Although Turner has been a bit shaky from the start, it is still his rookie year, and there are a lot of games left to play.
Having a few more of players like Turner would really help this struggling franchise turn it all around.
In the early part of this season, the Sixers displayed a record of 3 wins and 12 losses, the second worst in the NBA to the Clippers. Even if this team was to go on a run and manage to sneak into the playoffs, in no way could they get far with teams such as Boston, Orlando, and Miami in the way.
Losing in the first round of the playoffs once again will not progress the Sixers any farther forward into being a legitimate contender.
The Sixers should not just lose on purpose from now on, but rather try new things out. Instead, they should give the younger players some experience to help them learn their strengths and weaknesses.
This means to stop playing Elton Brand so much, no matter how well he is playing now. The Sixers need to trade him and eat his contract; because this is the only way that they can get this problem off their hands.
The Sixers will probably struggle along the way this year with their young players, and will most likely end up losing. But in this system of draft picks, losing may not be the worst thing.