Is it the shoes? It must be the shoes. (reference, look it up)
Let me reiterate the fact that I'm impressed with the strides the 76ers took this year—they've improved by leaps and bounds from where they were last year. But you're kidding yourself if you think that this team has a legitimate shot at being a title contender.
I just don't see it, and if you're satisfied with a team that is good but not great then this piece wasn't meant for you.
I think the team needs to see what it has with its younger players, and if that means taking a step back next year, then so be it. Let's take a look at three guys who should be in the starting lineup come next year.
Jrue Holliday is in his second year in the league, is still only 20 years old and is growing into one of the best young point guards in the league. Numerous scouts and experts consider him to have the talent on defense to be one of the best defenders in the NBA.
He needs to improve on his ball-handling and decision-making skills as he tends to turn the ball over a little too much, but that's the kind of thing that comes with experience.
Thaddeus Young, in his fourth year in the league, is also only 22 years old. He'll be a free agent at the end of this year so it's possible he won't be back, but unless he demands a ridiculous amount of money I think the Sixers will bring him back.
He's a relentlessly hardworking player, who rebounds well and has exceptional athleticism. Over a 10-game span from the end of February through the beginning of March, he averaged 18 ppg, six rpg and 1.5 steals.
Evan Turner, who is in his rookie season, is also 22 years old. He still has the most to prove out of all the young guys, but there's no question that he has gotten better and more comfortable as the season progressed. I'm not convinced he'll ever be a superstar or live up to being the second pick, but you've got to at least give him the chance to prove it by putting him in the starting lineup.
His jump shot isn't very pretty, but they'll work on it and all indications from people on and around the team are that he's in the gym as much as any guy on the squad.
The big question is whether any of those three guys is a franchise player. I think Jrue Holiday might have the best chance out of any of them, but we'll never know unless the team commits to making them a bigger part of this team.