The Philadelphia 76ers are 8-37 on the season and are tied for the second worst record in the NBA. Filled with a roster of young and inexperienced talent, eight wins thus far are encouraging for a team who was one loss away from making NBA history for most consecutive losses to start a season.
However there are several negatives and positives that the Sixers are facing during the second year of their rebuilding process; one of them being the health of their leading scorer Tony Wroten. Wroten, averaging 16.9 points per game and 5.2 assists per game, has missed the Sixers last nine games due to a partially torn ACL. Wroten, a fan favorite, has made a name for himself around the league for his quickness and his ability to get to the rim at will. For the direction that General Manager Sam Hinkie is building his team, Wroten has been considered a corner stone in the foundation that Hinkie is laying. With an ACL injury, questions loom on whether Wroten will be able to return to his explosive form because at this point the Sixers have to take steps forward. Losing Wroten’s productivity with nothing in return would mean a huge step backward. Because Wroten’s ACL is partially torn, surgery may not be necessary, however Wroten said he wants to talk to Hinkie about whether or not he should go through with surgery. If he does, that will be the third surgery on Wroten’s right knee.
It seems as if the Sixers also have their hands full with their first round draft pick, Joel Embiid. Embiid was said to have weighed in around 300 pounds while nursing his foot after weighing 250 pounds last year at the University of Kansas. The Sixers have said to be worried about Embiid’s work ethic and dedication to his craft. Embiid denies all rumors of him weighing close to 300 pounds. After being dismissed from the team’s west coast road trip due to these allegations, Embiid has noticeably been working hard with every workout that he goes through before every game and practice. It seems like the entire situation has been over hyped and seeing Embiid in action next season should be quite a sight to see.
One thing the Sixers are excited about is the additions of rookies K.J. McDaniels and Jerami Grant. McDaniels is quickly becoming a fan favorite considering he seems to always find himself on the highlight reels because of his insane athletic ability. McDaniels has been filling up ESPN’s top plays throughout the season with highflying dunks and athletic blocks. Aside from just the pretty plays, McDaniels has asserted himself as one of the 76ers better defenders and has shown that he has a better offensive skill set than people expected. He is now averaging 9.2 points per game and 1.4 blocks per game, which is impressive for a guard.
Jerami Grant has made it known that McDaniels isn’t the only human highlight reel on their team. After posting eight blocks against the New York Knicks, Grant has showed promise thus far this season. Grant’s biggest attribute is his work ethic. After being sidelined for the first month of the season due to an ankle injury, Grant worked hard on his conditioning and was able to get back on the court by December before the All-Star Break. Grant has always been a hard-worker and continues to get better each game. As of now he looks like a player that the Sixers can easily develop.
There are still questions as to what the Sixers will do with their returning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams. He’s averaging 15.3 points per game to go along with six rebounds per game and 7.1 assists per game. That’s pretty solid for a second year point guard, however many are wondering how much better Carter-Williams can get. The Sixers are looking for players with high ceilings who have the ability to improve year in and year out. Carter-Williams name has been in trade talks because the Sixers aren’t sure if he has hit that ceiling yet. I believe MCW are just what the Sixers need at point guard especially if he continues to work on his shooting ability. He’s a 6’6 point guard that is a matchup problem for most point guards in this league.
As bad as they are, the Sixers are sitting pretty as far as the future goes. They have players that are improving throughout the season and are learning what it takes to win games in the NBA. After this year’s draft, the foundation will be fully set and that’s when we will see whether Hinkie’s vision will be a success or failure.