Written by: Jason Peters @JpetersTSR
The 76ers currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, a half of a game behind the Nets, Heat, and Wizards. Through 14 games, the young and essentially brand new team finds themselves in the far different position than last year, 4-10. I’m not going to sit behind a laptop and pretend that 4-10 is anything that an NBA team should aspire to be, but in comparison to where the team was last year through 14 games (0-14 on the way to an 18 game losing streak)… 4-10 looks pretty nice.
This 4-10 in the minds of people who follow the 76ers is accepted with grace, due to the fact that Joel Embiid, who is proving to be more talented than I had ever imagined, is playing limited minutes and in the case of four games not playing at all. Playing only 22 minutes a game, Embiid is averaging 18.4 PPG, 7.2 Rebounds, and shooting nearly 50% from both the field and from three point distance. The 76ers are starting to mesh well and become healthy, Embiid alone could not have accounted for 4 wins, and in fact the Sixers have won without him.
The surprises keep coming in this 2016-2017 season, Nik Stauskas looks like a well-rounded basketball player. He is no Kyle Korver, and that’s a high praise in my book. Stauskas has worked his way back into basketball relevance, playing 24 minutes a game, shooting 53.8% from the field and 48% from three, playing tough defense, and even threw down a one-handed alley-oop against the Suns.
The introduction of Jerryd Bayless could provide much needed structure to the young and often wild team, in his debut he started slowly, but his veteran presence and instincts will eventually shine through. The addition of Ersan Ilyasova has proven to be a good, but not glamorous one, putting up consistent stats, and knowing his role. The unsung heroes of the 76ers have been stepping up to the plate, they currently have 6 players averaging 10+ points, which is an incredible thing to have when you have a star waiting to join the team.
In the everlasting Nerlens Noel vs. Jahlil Okafor debate I’ve always been a heavy advocate for Nerlens Noel, on the stance that we need a strong defensive presence. Of late, when considering cap space for the future, Joel Embiid’s production on defense as a factor, and Nerlens Noel’s inconsistency issues on offense, I’m finally accepting the idea that Noel will not be a 76er at the end of the trade deadline.
4-10 is not ideal, but it is 40% of last year’s win total (10-72) through 68 less games. The 76ers did not have four wins until January 4th last season, 37 games in. 4-10 is significantly better than 4-33, the 76ers have many pleasant surprises to come. Ben Simmons is going to play this season, Nerlens Noel will play a brief stint for the 76ers after he recovers from surgery, and whether or not he gets traded the 76ers are adding valuable pieces back into their everyday rotation. The future for the 76ers is bright.