It’s going to suck to be a Philadelphia 76er player this season. And fans. But it’s not fun for the players, either. They are the poster franchise for “getting worse to get better” — or “woeful for Wiggins,” or organizational tanking, whatever term you prefer — and they may not break the 20-win barrier this season.
Kevin Durant has been in the Sixers shoes. When he came to the Sonics (now Thunder) they were tanking just like this (although they were pretty much the only team doing it). His first season in Seattle the team won 20 games. That next season they had moved to Oklahoma City and they drafted Russell Westbrook, but still only won 23 games. It wasn’t until his third season, with James Harden now in the fold, that OKC won 50 games and burst into the public consciousness as the Thunder we know (and they still lost in the first round that year).
Since he’s been there, the Philadelphia Inquirer asked Durant to give the Sixers players some advice.
“Every game it was tough knowing that it was going to be hard for us to win,” Durant said. “But what we did was come in and work hard every day, and know that it was going to be a process and maybe a tough year.”
“You just have to keep pushing through it,” said Durant, giving advice to the Sixers.
The Sonics/Thunder were lucky in that they had a guy with the mindset to keep pushing through. That’s more about Durant than anything.
Still, it’s a tough adjustment. Pretty much every NBA player is used to winning — they won in junior high, high school, AAU, and most of them won in college — so being on a weak NBA that gets its head handed to it most nights can be mentally draining.
What this is really going to do is teach the Sixers what Michael Carter-Williams, Evan Turner, Nerlens Noel and the rest of the guys the Sixers think are their future core are made out of.
Same will be true of whomever they draft next summer as well. This is a multi-year process.