2015-16 was the 77th season for the 76ers and they have broken a lot of undesirable records even after picking up the 3rd pick of the draft in Jahlil Okafor, 19yr old 6ft 11 Center from Duke.
The Philadelphia based team broke the NBA record for most consecutive loses with 27 spanning across two seasons before winning the game against L.A.Lakers at home, which was the last for Legendary Kobe Bryant in one of his favorite venues of all time –Philadelphia.
Before the 2016 season, the 76ers had 6 additions through draft and 5 through the window but could find none who succeeded to step into the boots of the 2012 5th overall pick Thomas Robinson, who joined Brooklyn then and now will play for the Lakers in 16-17, Mbah a Moute and 2-time Slam Dunk champion Jason Richardson, who hung up his boots after 15-16. After bringing on a new roster and a new chairman in Jerry Colangelo, former 4-time NBA executive of the year along with one of the most experienced coaches, Mike D’Antoni as their assistant coach, the team could not help but finish with worse numbers of 10-72, just one loss shy of tying the record for most losses in a NBA season.
The Philadelphia 76ers, who successful had another undesirable season this time had the opportunity to have the 1st pick of the 2016 NBA Draft which they used to pick up the 20yr 6ft 10 Power forward from Australia, Ben Simmons over the much-hyped Brandon Ingram, making him the the 3rd Melbourne born to be picked Number 1, 11yrs after Andrew Bogut was picked by Milwaukee Bucks in 2005. They also succeeded in grabbing 2 versatile guard-forward players in Luwawu-Cabarott (France, Rd:1 Pick:24) and Furkan Korkmaz (Turkey, Rd:1 Pick:26).
Along with the draft additions, the 76ers have Sasha Kaun and Tibor Pleib from the Cavaliers and Jazz respectively. They signed valuable free agents in Jerrad Bayless on a 3 yr contract and Gerald Henderson for 2yrs. They even managed to get in Sergio Rodriguez, the two time All-Europe Player of the Year (2014,2015) and the Euroleague MVP (2015) from Real Madrid after winning a Bronze in the recently concluded Olympics at Rio. They lost Ish Smith and Kendall Marshall during this period of exchange.
This season, the 76ers might mostly start with a fresh rookie-cum-second year line up: Gerald Henderson(SG), Sergio Rodriguez(PG), Jahlil Okafor(PF, Captain), Nerlens Noel(C) and Ben Simmons(SF) with experienced Jerryd Bayless playing the crucial 6th man game alongwith last season’s rising youngster, Nick Stauskas, who’d be coming off the bench. What stands in the black-box again is how quick the new starters settle in to the NBA levels and perform as a team under expert guidance from one of the best support staff, who are presently under immense pressure to produce results.
In the previous season, they lost a number of close games losing focus and composure at the crunch moment. They had a wonderful reserve of youngsters but they could not team up and match the experience during the clutch situations. But this time around, this doesn’t seem to be a problem with Rodriguez and Bayless coming into the roster and also talented players like Noel and Okafor gaining enough experience about such circumstances.
The 76ers are expected to turn tables around with some really wonderful young talent, most of which interestingly is non-USA, so the integrity in the team and tactical unity among the players and the staff will play a major role in the initial stages of the season. Some of the youngsters in the rooster and especially Ben Simmons seem to have utilised their summer league games in Vegas and Utah for this purpose. So, the 76ers with a lot of young potential raw talents will get its season kicked off against a “Durant-less-Thunder” at home on 26th October hoping to turn tables and force towards fortune in the coming season!
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