Is tanking the season really the Sixers' best strategy?

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Sixers center Spencer Hawes. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

PERHAPS I'LL BE proved wrong, but I'm not sure Sixers fans are prepared to witness what they say they are ready to witness this season.

If you read the comments on chat boards or listen to local sports-talk radio, a vast majority of fans say they want the Sixers to lose as many games as possible, thus setting themselves up to win the 2014 NBA lottery.

"Tanking" - intentionally doing everything to be as bad as possible - is being called a good thing.

"Together We Build" is the official rally cry the organization has put out there for 2013-14, but a more creative theme has become "Tankadelphia."

"Tank you, Sixers. Lose with us. Don't get score, lose some more." - Drew777

The line of thought is that the only way for the Sixers to get out of the decade of mediocrity they have been stuck in is to sink to rock bottom and take advantage of receiving a high NBA draft pick - a player who can become the franchise star the Sixers haven't had since Allen Iverson.

Being bad to get good is the way to build in the NBA.

And with Kansas freshman swingman Andrew Wiggins, the potential prize of the 2014 draft, being hailed as the greatest prospect since LeBron James, now is the time for the Sixers to fully embrace losing.

"I wanna see a rock solid tank job. No win streaks at the end of the season that destroys our draft position." - couchKing

In theory, that sounds great, but this isn't the NFL, where the worst team automatically receives the first pick.

Having the worst record in the NBA does not guarantee a team will win the lottery. It gives only a 25 percent chance to win the weighted system, with the next best chance 19.9 percent.

The reality of the "Tank-it Train" is that the Sixers still have a 75 percent of not winning the lottery.

Even if they get No. 1, there is no guarantee Wiggins will declare. Remember, future Hall of Fame big man Tim Duncan stayed at Wake Forest when the Sixers won the lottery in 1996.

Iverson was not a bad consolation prize.

The 2014 draft is predicted to be the best since 2003, when All-Stars James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade entered the league.

As long as the Sixers stay in the top four, a high-quality prospect should be available.

Finishing last guarantees, at worst, the fourth pick.

Still, I'm not convinced rooting for a high pick can sustain this fan base through what could be a historically bad season.

I've seen a cry for rebuilding of every major franchise in this city. They always sounded good until the ugliness of a nuke-it-and-rebuild-it situation showed itself.

From January through August, fans said they were willing to be patient while Chip Kelly began rebuilding the Eagles. Everyone understood this was the start and there would be bumps along the way. How's that working out, after consecutive losses at home to Dallas and the Giants?

"What happened to the vaunted offensive schemes of Chip Kelly? Can't this city have one, just one competitive sports team?" - fanup

Only one player on the Sixers' roster - forward Thaddeus Young (89th) - is ranked among the top 100 players of the NBA.

Prize rookie center Nerlens Noel, who was traded for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, is likely to miss the entire season as he recovers from a torn ACL.

There is a high probability that three projected stars - Young, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes - could be traded at some point this season.

Brett Brown may have been a longtime assistant with the successful San Antonio Spurs, but this is still his first job as an NBA head coach. In other words, the Sixers could give the mythical "110 percent effort" every game and still not come up with 20 victories.

Can Philadelphia truly accept that because it will be good for the Sixers in the long run?

Some say, "Yes."

"Like I said this is no different from what we have been watching for years. We're just getting the honest version now . . . We've finally got a plan people, embrace it.' - bgwille

I'll be interested to see how being down with the Sixers' plan manifests itself.

Will fans cut Brown and his merry band of cannon fodder slack when it comes to critiquing their efforts?

Will grand poobah of basketball and noted recluse Sam Hinkie be allowed to write the syllabus for his "Build A Contender 101" course in the dark bowels of his locked sanctuary without the howls of complaints?

Will the "boo" be banned from the Wells Fargo Center this season because fans understand the situation?

I think not.

"What happens when reality sets in? All the high energy, rah-rah stuff starts to sound hollow when you're 8-26." - mtairy1

Sixers fans have always been the most fickle when it comes to shelling out cash for tickets. A string of sellouts was never guaranteed even during good seasons.

"The Sixers are delusional . . . What clown would pay $100 to see them play the Raptors." - Nws777

The Sixers open the 2013-14 season tomorrow with the two-time champion Miami Heat coming to South Philadelphia. It likely will be the first of the numerous 10- to 20-point beatings the Sixers will take this season.

Right now, a lot of Sixers fans say they are OK with that, because they are looking at the bigger picture.

We'll see how long that lasts as the losses pile up.

"So many young fans or fans just hoping a decade-long star falls in their lap . . . just don't seem to understand how hard this season will be." - bearsfriend.

 


Email: smallwj@phillynews.com

Columns: ph.ly/Smallwood

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