Cover Your Eyes

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Several days ago I sat down and attempted to continue with my NBA Preview. My goal was to write about the worst five teams in the Eastern Conference. I got a couple lines into it, looked up some Al Jefferson stats, and decided I didn’t have the will power to dedicate serious time to what will amount to pathetic doormats for the rest of the NBA. And while I was dreading writing it, I know that nobody would even want to read my insights about some teams that will never even get remotely close to making the playoffs. But there was still one thing that I believe everyone needs to be aware of. While little reporting has been dedicated to this topic, I find it to be important and interesting.

The Philadelphia 76ers might be the worst team ever.

I know what you’re saying. “The 76ers? Didn’t they recently win a playoff series, make some big trade, and hire a young smart GM? How can they really be that bad?”

Have you not kept a close eye on the 76ers this summer, I would totally understand your confusion. Allow me to give you a quick rundown of some moves made recently:

  • Coach Doug Collins is fired/quits/everyone always seems to hate Doug Collins.
  • The prize from that big trade, Andrew Bynum, leaves without ever stepping foot on the floor in a Sixers jersey.
  • On draft night, All Star point guard Jrue Holiday is sent to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel, who is recovering from ACL surgery and might be not exactly be a guy you want on your team. He also might not play at all this season, depending on how his rehab goes.
  • They drafted Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams. While I think MCW’s elite size could allow him to develop into a more athletic Greivus Vasquez, any serious production from him is still a few years away.
  • They let Dorell Wright and Nick Young leave in free agency. While neither of those guys are good basketball players, they are valuable floor spacers that can be nice pieces for a contender
  • They still don’t have a coach

While savvy NBA fans will quickly point out that this offseason was Step 1 in a multi-step plan that will theoretically lead the 76ers back to glory days, that is not my point. I am not criticizing these moves. In what promises to be a loaded draft class next year, this strategy, along with crazy amounts of cap space, is likely to yield great improvement in the coming years. The point I’m trying to make is that we, as fans of the NBA, should prepare ourselves for a historic season.

In 2012, the Charlotte Bobcats stunned the world and took the title of “worst team ever” from from the 1972-73 76ers. The Bobcats finished 7-59 in the lockout shortened season. They ranked dead last in both offensive and defensive rating. They were 29th in field goal percentage. They paid Corey Maggette, Boris Diaw, and Tyrus Thomas over $26 million to play basketball.

While this team was truly pathetic, I can’t truly consider them to be the absolute worst team of all time. Many people look at the 1999 season as having an asterisk on it. While the Spurs without a doubt were a talented champion, the eighth seeded Knicks made the finals in a really goofy 50 game season. In 2012, with a really young roster and a first year head coach, this already atrocious team was really set up for failure. Kemba Walker was a rookie and Gerald Henderson was still figuring things out. With a full training camp, who knows how not-historically-bad this team could have been?

The 76ers this year really have a chance to break their own record, posting the worst win loss total in a full 82 game season. Their best returning player is Thaddeus Young, a guy who, on a loaded roster, can do a lot of high energy things that push a great team over the top. But on a roster where Evan Turner, who shot just 36% from three, is perhaps your best shooter, Young is really going to struggle. He’s going to garner way more attention on offense, and is likely going to see his 53% FG% plummet.

Evan Turner, the former #2 pick in the draft, looks more and more like a slightly above average role player every day. And that might be a stretch. He averaged 13 points, 6 boards and 4 assists last year. Those numbers aren’t horrible. In fact the assist numbers are nice from a guy who doesn’t handle the ball that much. But from the #2 pick, more scoring was to be expected.

Kwame Brown still collects checks from the team.

The 1973 Sixers went 9-73. Fred Carter led the team in scoring, averaging 20 a night on a ghastly 42% from the field. He averaged twenty shots a game to reach those twenty points. Basketballreference.com has a tool where you can see players who compare to a certain player. For Fred Carter, the only name that I recognized was Marquis Daniels.

That pathetic excuse for a team also featured Hal Greer. Greer is one of those guys who people born in 1991 just don’t have much of an appreciation for. Greer, who is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, averaged at least 19.5 points a game for ten consecutive seasons. Unfortunately for the 1973 Sixers, Greer was already three years removed from his remarkable stretch. He was also 36. Greer averaged just over five points a night in ’73. At the conclusion of the season, he retired from the NBA.

This upcoming season is going to be fantastic. The Heat will be looking to 3-peat. The Western Conference is loaded and will be exciting every night. DERRICK ROSE IS COMING BACK. But don’t let yourself get too caught up in all the excitement. Every once in a while, when you’re checking the standings to see who’s going to lock down home court advantage, or fighting for a playoff spot, move your eyes slightly lower down the page. You might just be witnessing history.

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