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A Spurs' eye view of the 2016-17 Philadelphia 76ers

The 23rd of a 30-part series previewing the season.

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers

Last Season: 10-72, 15th in the East, DFL in the NBA

Off-season Gains: SF Ben Simmons (draft), C Joel Embiid (sort of), SG Gerald Henderson (free agent), SF Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (draft),

Off-season Losses: SF Ben Simmons (being drafted by the Sixers), PG Isaiah Canaan (free agent/Chicago), PG Ish Smith (free agent/Detroit)

Off-season Stock: DO NOT WANT

League Pass Team?: The NBA actually sends you a $5 refund on League Pass orders as a token of apology for the Sixers' existence.

Oof. I mean... Just... (audible sigh).

I'm gonna need a minute here, guys.

You know, I didn't mention him up there on the transaction ledger because he's an undrafted rookie with an non-guaranteed contract (i.e. camp fodder), but the Sixers have a dude on their roster named "Cat Barber," and his name is literally one of the 10, maybe 12 professions that sounds more undesirable than Brett Brown's job. Or maybe Job is more appropriate because Brown's plight in Philadelphia has been like something out of the Old Testament.

I can just picture it now... Brown was a wealthy man and part of a large Spurs family. He was always "blameless" and "upright" and "careful to avoid doing evil."

A few days after the 2013 NBA Finals, Gregg Popovich and David Stern were exchanging pleasantries during an NBA Cares event and Popovich made an offhand remark that as crushed as everyone on the team was about how their championship dreams ended, Brett Brown remained as positive as ever, dutifully texting Manu Ginobili every day in hopes of lifting the despairing sixth-man's spirits.

Stern rolled his eyes and let out a brief snort. He replied that Brown's relentlessly upbeat demeanor was due to him a longtime member of the most successful organization in the NBA. "C'mon Pop, he's been with you forever," Stern jabbed. "What assistant has a better gig than that?"

Pop defended Brown, saying he's had plenty of caustic and pragmatic assistants, citing Mike Budenholzer and P.J. Carlesimo as two examples, but Stern, as usual, refused to be swayed. He decided to make a wager with Popovich.

"I bet if I took all that Brown has away, that if I put him in charge of the most ill-fated team in league history, with the most vile fan base and clueless ownership and cynical media, he'll curse your name within three years, especially if you have success without him, like, say, an NBA title the very next season," Stern offered, with a knowing wink.

Popovich accepted the deal in an instant. He had faith in Brown's moral fiber. And he wasn't about to turn down a championship, especially after that Ray Allen nonsense. At times he's felt guilty, watching his good friend get his head beaten in night after night, with each of his lottery picks turning into a pillar of salt by the time they hug Adam Silver on the podium. Sometimes Popovich wonders if he did right by his friend to accept Stern's bet, even though Brown proved him right in the end.

And those are the times he really appreciates the soporific qualities of a fine Bordeaux.


So yeah, if you didn't hear, Ben Simmons, the Sixers' first overall draft pick, had something called "an acute Jones fracture" of the fifth metatarsal (not to be confused for one of these, though Simmons is also Australian) of his right foot. A broken foot, in layman's terms. He'll be out til the All-Star break, most likely, with an emphasis on "break." Philly has already had Nerlens Noel's career delayed for a year due to injury and double that for Joel Embiid, who I think we can agree are all hoping against hope he doesn't turn into the next Greg Oden, both for his sake and Brown's.

While it's obviously another setback the Sixers didn't need, I wasn't exactly thrilled in the first place about their supposed plans to use Simmons as a 6'10 point guard. The height is a concern, sure, but moreover in today's NBA you can't be a lead play-maker if you don't have a credible three-point shot. Like, 32 percent should be the bare minimum baseline. Simmons attempted three shots from downtown in 33 games for LSU. (But he made one of them, so the math totally checks out.) My point is I don't know how Brown and the team's brass can expect a healthy Simmons create for others if people go under every screen and dare him to shoot. He can make plays off the drive, but the space will be constricted until he fixes that broken jumper, no different than how limited his effectiveness would be with a broken foot.

He's hardly alone on the shelf. Jahlil Okafor was able to play just 53 games as a rookie and has missed all of camp and preseason with a knee injury. He scored efficiently enough, as expected, but was a disappointment defensively and off the floor, to the point where there was rampant speculation that he'd be moved in the off-season. Noel, meanwhile, is nursing a sprained groin that will likely keep him out to start the year and he was openly wondering during the team's media day why the team hadn't traded one or two of their three starting-caliber young centers by now, describing the situation as "silly" and expressing skepticism that Brown can make a sensible rotation involving them all.

About the only good news the team's had, aside from stretch-four option (and future Patrick Ewing Award recipient for Sweatiest Player in the League) Dario Saric finally deciding to come over after playing two years overseas, is that there haven't been any setbacks --so far-- for Embiid, and he's shown flashes of star potential in preseason. He's got miles and miles to go of course, but unlike Okafor or Noel, he's the only one of the bigs who projects to being a legit, two-way threat. If he continues to blossom during the regular season and shows that he can stay healthy, I would think that the Sixers will trade either one or both of the other two at the deadline for some much-needed backcourt help or more of those dreaded "assets."

What else is even here? Their point guards will be T.J. McConnell, Jerryd Bayless and Spaniard Sergio Rodriguez and it goes without saying he's the only one of the three I'm remotely intrigued by. At the two there's Gerald Henderson and "Sauce Castillo," a situation that's lamentable to be kind. Robert Covington, Jerami Grant and Hollis Thompson will all be readily available on the waiver wire of your fantasy league, and they're all basically the same guy, each one wondering when they'll wake up from this vivid, haunting dream where they were terrible rotation players in the NBA, getting their asses kicked on a nightly basis. With the 24th pick they selected a hyphenated Frenchman in Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and maybe he'll be able to play worth a damn. Heaven knows this roster needs all the TLC it can get.


/googles "TLC hit songs"

(Okay, fine, because I love you all.)

I know many Sixers fans think of former GM Sam Hinkie as some Creep, for selling them on some Red Light Special of a process that turned out to be a Dear Lie, shamelessly tanking year after year, Hands Up in surrender just to select another Damaged rookie. "Baby-baby-baby," he'd purr, seductively, as our collective Spidey-senses screamed Sumthin' Wicked This Way Comes, "Baby, Don't Pull Out on Me Yet, Das da Way We Like 'Em."

"Don't you understand?" he asked. "You have to Kick Your Game, baby. This Is How It Works. We have to Take Our Time. I'm Good at Being Bad. The next pick will be CrazySexyCool, I promise. Let's Do It Again."

Maybe it took seeing A.I. being inducted into the Hall of Fame, the fans listening to his speech and collectively thinking "I'm Diggin' On You" and realizing "I Miss You So Much," with Waterfalls pouring from their eyes, but the organization decided they were through being taken for a Sleigh Ride, they were tired of their rosters looking like a mystery novel entitled "The Case of the Fake People," and that the City of Brotherly Love needed to regain its Freedom from Hinkie's clutches.

The past few years were an Unpretty sight and maybe they were Meant to Be so that their fans can appreciate the good times instead of taking them for granted, but from this point forward, the team needs a strict No Scrubs policy. They need to have a Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg attitude to win people back and once they can show one skeptical patron at a time a good time, then they can ask "What About Your Friends?"

Oh, and Elton Brand will be back, for more mentoring. Good for him.

In summation, I predict the Sixers will be very bad, but not quite so bad as before.