With a win over Orlando 112-111, the Philadelphia Sixers have matched their highest win total since The Process began. Three seasons ago, Philly finished the season 19-63. They won their nineteenth game of the year last night and they still have twenty-nine more games this season.
Philly is on pace to finish this season with a record of 29-53. This would be their most wins since the 2012-13 season when they went 34-48. That team was led by former Sixers Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. Not a single player from that roster remains with the team.
The Sixers finished with one of the worst records in each of the past three years. Last year, Philadelphia went 10-72 capturing only one more win than the 1972-73 Sixers who hold the record for fewest wins in an 82-game season. Before that, Philadelphia completed the previous two seasons with the season fewest wins. Even now, with just as many wins as the 2013-2014 team, Philadelphia holds the fourth worst record in the NBA.
Philadelphia’s rise in wins can be attributed to the success of the rookies. Joel Embiid has only played in 31 games this season. He’s about to miss his nine in a row. Embiid’s performed like a star while leading rookies in points scored (20.2 per game), rebounds (7.8 per game), blocks (2.45 per game), and double doubles (9). Embiid is probably having the most exciting rookie season in Philadelphia since Allen Iverson twenty years ago. He’s the clear runaway for Rookie of The Year.
Dario Saric, another 2014 Sixers’ first round draft pick, has been a great addition to the Sixers but Embiid has overshadowed his play. Saric is averaging 10.2 points a game, second for rookies behind his Cameroonian teammate. He’s third in rebounds per game and second in double-doubles with four. In the six games this month that Embiid has missed, Saric has averaged 14.2 points a game.
The acquisitions over numerous other players have contributed to the improved record. The Sixers traded for power forward Ersan Ilyasova after a couple games and he’s been a key part. Ilyasova has played well when on the floor with Embiid, as he’s a 36% three point shooter. Gerald Henderson has also brought a veteran presence to a team that severely lacked it in the past.
Players who have been on the team for multiple years have continued to make strides for the most part. T.J. McConnell has proven he belongs in the NBA, while leading the league in game winning shots in the last five seconds of games with two. Nik Stauskas has developed into a player who can create his own shots off the dribble.
Ben Simmons was the first overall draft pick in last year’s draft. He hasn’t played in a single game so far after breaking his foot in October. The team has been very tightlipped about his return. Philly’s staff will monitor him like a hawk once he returns but hopefully he will have his debut soon.
Philadelphia’s success this season has proven to be the next step in Sam Hinkie’s Process. With the additions of Embiid and Saric among others, Philadelphia has made itself into a formidable team. Their success will continue and even grow once Simmons makes his way back on the court. Then Philadelphia will add at least one top-five talent in this draft class. The Sixers may have matched their win highest win total in three years, but this might be their worst record in the next three years.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports