The 2013-2014 Philadelphia 76ers: A Narrative

Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 07:41 PM

The narrative has already been written, countless times. After a lot of turnover throughout the organization, the Philadelphia 76ers are probably going to be bad. A cursory look at this roster and most will notice the lack of household names outside a few holdovers from the Doug Collins Era and a Kwame Brown. It’s widely acknowledged from talking heads to the casual fans that this Sixers team is actively trying to rebuild from the ground up, so much so that even the organization has thrown out a new mantra to try to keep their fans coming: “Together We Build”.  Gone are the days of being passionate, intense, and proud, despite the logical limitation and actual ceiling of the team. In a few weeks, the Sixers and their fans finally start a long, 82-game journey into what will probably be one of the worst seasons in the team’s recent history… including the year of Eddie Jordan.

This is the grim, somewhat depressing first part to the narrative.

The light at the end of the tunnel are the prospects of the 2014 NBA draft, touted as one of the best draft classes in years. While the crown jewel as of now is Andrew Wiggins, the amount of talent in the top 10 guarantees that winning the lottery/number 1 pick isn’t necessarily the be all-end all, even after what will presumably be a “tanking” season. Put in another way: Even if the Sixers don’t win the first overall pick, they’ll still have their pick of plenty of players that have superstar potential. Of course, there are dissenters to this strategy of rebuilding by cleaning house. The basis for the arguments is that by conceding this season or “tanking”, the players and organization would buy into a losing philosophy that would 1. Carry over to its players which would negatively affect them long term and 2. Disservice the fans that pay money for tickets to these games. While I disagree with this premise entirely and will discuss it later, I do understand the negative impact it will have on the fan base, primarily new or casual fans.

Ever since the end of the 2013 NBA draft, this second part to the narrative has been discussed, ad nauseam.

However, in 2 weeks begins the final and most important part of the 2013-2014 Philadelphia 76ers narrative. A team that will probably be historically bad “on purpose” will be fighting for high draft for “a purpose”. Furthermore, that is what this season is about and should be looked upon as: A Purpose. As it gets closer to opening day, and as the roster is still in flux, it’s no mystery that this Sixers team will be an absolute mixed bag of results every night they play. So as a fan heading into this season, it’s easy to forget what exactly we are involving ourselves in for the next 82 games.

“Tanking” has gotten such a negative connotation because of the previously mentioned dissenters and so called basketball purists. A schism has even entered our fanbase among the die-hards because “What type of fan would root for a loss?” Well, in my opinion, it’s easy. After following this team closely for the past decade, the lack of proper planning or direction has been the biggest obstacle facing the organization from poor team building to improper contracts. If completely tearing it all down, starting from the first brick and “rebuildling” is done with an actual direction or plan in mind, then why would that not be something to get behind? The real disconnect comes from differentiating “purposely losing and “purposefully losing”. While the former holds the negative connotation because it implies noncompetitive and lack of short term reward/success, the latter holds hope for something better, despite it all. While many look toward the 2014 draft, the infusion of youth and raw talent on the team cannot be underscored. Rookie talent and the untapped former draft picks that have come into town both have something to prove and improve. The mystery and potential growth of the team provides enough intrigue and reason to watch.

So while the narrative of this 76ers team has been and will be talked about, it will be important to remember that this season will be more than just about next year’s draft. It will be more than just about changing philosophies and watching the old regime in the rear-view. It will be more than just about the win-loss column and how the fans, the media and the rest of the NBA see it.

This season is about the final part to the 2013-2014 Sixers narrative. This season is about growth and improvement to continue the development of a hopefully, one-day championship team. This season is about a purpose.

  • So, what’s it all about, Sohil?

    Here’s the thing. How I’ve decided to deal with the disconnect is: At a micro level, while I’m watching the game, I’ll want them to play as well and as hard as they can, and I’ll be looking at the improvement of the young guys, and I’ll probably, in my heart of hearts, be happy if I’m watching the game and they win. At a macro level, I want them to go 0-82, and I certainly won’t mourn any loss, as long as the aforementioned hard play and development of the young guys happens. I’ll just light my defeat cigar and enjoy the young guys playing their hearts out and getting better for when Wiggins comes in and the real business of building a winning basketball team begins.

    Now, if they suck and get screwed in the draft (because, y’know, Sixers), that would be kinda harsh, but we get to do it all over again next year, I guess, until the ping-pong balls line up the way we need them to.

    • Sohil Doshi

      I feel the same way about how to approach the season. I just think that the foregone conclusion of this season is about the 2014 draft is misguided. We’ll see what happens over the course of the year (improvement, trades, etc).

      • Derek Bodner

        It’s about improvements, but only for a select few. Outside of MCW, Noel, Thad, and perhaps Wroten, I’m not sure many are really in their long term plans. That doesn’t mean that improvement in other players (Turner + Hawes, specifically) the team couldn’t benefit from some improvement, but I’m not sure the gains are going to be all that substantial.

        • Sohil Doshi

          Any improvement is better than none. Furthermore, when we talk about players like Turner and Hawes (or really anyone on the team), improvement in their game means more than just their direct impact on the court.

          • Derek Bodner

            (That’s what I was getting at. The improvement in their trade value. I should have been more clear)

        • This is kind of where I was going at the end. Other than Noel and possibly MCW, how many of these guys do you even expect to be on the roster in three years? They’re not building a team around Vander Blue, Royce White, and Kwame Brown (can Michael Redd and Jeff Green be far behind?). These guys exist to keep their uniforms from hitting the floor.