It’s been seven weeks since the Philadelphia 76ers won a game — any game.
Earlier this week the team set a franchise record by losing its 22nd consecutive game.
Sixers coach Brett Brown likes to put the losses in perspective.
“We have bigger things that we’re all here for. This is not ‘slit your wrist time.’ This is not even close to that,” Brown said. “This is about building a program and understanding the short-term pain for a lot of long-term gain.”
The pain is clear but the long-term gain can be difficult to see for all the losses. In the NBA, a mountain of defeats isn’t the worst thing: the league is set-up to reward teams with bad records with good draft picks.
“This is what 76’ers had to do this year. It’s really not enjoyable when you’re in the midst of it but there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Brian Toporek is a contributor at Hoop76.com, an NBA blog affiliated with ESPN.
Toporek said this is the perfect season to tank because the upcoming draft looks like the best in a decade.
“The Sixers have been on what’s been called the ‘Treadmill of Mediocrity’ — where they haven’t been good enough to compete for a championship and they haven’t been bad enough to compete for a number one pick,” Toporek said.
The Sixers have clearly jumped off that treadmill. They’ve traded away talent and set a team record, losing 22 straight games. Toporek says there are a few potential names for that light at the end of that tunnel.
“Assuming the Sixers keep one of the two worst records in the league, they’re guaranteed their own pick will be a top 5 pick which in theory guarantees Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum, Julius Randle or Joel Embiid,” he said.
Dennis Deitch used to cover the Sixers for the Delaware County Daily Times. He said he’s glad he switched to the Phillies beat, but conceeds that he gets morbid enjoyment out of covering terrible teams.
“So I might have enjoyed it a little bit but this out of hand what’s going on there,” Deitch said. “I can’t imagine going six weeks without seeing a team win a game.”
Sports Illustrated.com NBA writer Ben Golliver said the Sixers are clearly looking down the road to when they’ve acquired a superstar.
“You know a top 10 player in the NBA. And the way the contracts work is you can have that player under contract usually if you do it right for 9 years before he can leave,” Golliver said. “And that’s a really long time to win a lot of games.”
If the 76ers loses every game the rest of the season, they’d finish with a 36-game losing streak, which would be a new NBA record for futility.