After their loss to the Wizards in Washington on Monday afternoon, the Sixers officially sit at the halfway point of their season. The team has played 41 of 82 regular season games and won a grand total of 13 times, which, at this point, is more than many expected.
With the season’s glass half empty, now seems to be a good time to look at some trends on the Sixers’ struggle of a season.
First of all, the team's 13 wins is the third least in the league at this point. Only Milwaukee (seven) and Orlando (11) have fewer wins than Philadelphia. If you’re on board with using this season as a developmental tool and landing as high as possible in the summer’s lottery than this is a good thing. If not, well then you’re likely out of luck, and you will just have to continue to suffer through some bad basketball from the Sixers this season.
Aside from having the league’s third lowest win total, the Sixers are at the very bottom of the barrel in several other areas as well. The Sixers are dead last in the league in defensive points per game, allowing their opponents to score a whopping 109.9 points a game - a full four points higher than the next closest team: the Los Angeles Lakers. The Sixers defense has been beyond suspect all season and they continue to allow their opponent to pile on the points. They have been all-right offensively, scoring 101 points per game themselves, but it is tough to beat anyone when you’re giving up roughly 110 points per.
Working hand-in-hand with the amount of points Philadelphia gives up on a nightly basis is how many three-point attempts, and makes, they allow. The 76ers are again dead last in the league in both three point shots attempted and made by opponents. This is not a surprise for anyway who has watched them so far this season, as at times it feels as though there is a constant barrage of threes raining down on Evan Turner and his teammates. The Sixers are allowing 26.7(!) three-point attempts per game, and their opponents are making an average of 9.8 such shots. That is almost 30 points a game surrendered to the three-point shot! Again, it is very difficult to win consistently when you’re allowing so much damage to be done from beyond the arc.
There is yet another category where the Sixers find themselves last in the league: turnovers per game. The Sixers, as if they didn’t already have enough issues if they took good care of the ball, turn it over more than any other team. On average, the Sixers turn the ball over 17 times a game, leading to 16 opponent fast-break points. Again, not a sign of success.
Obviously the Sixers have struggled this season. Some of the struggle was to be expected however, and it hasn’t all been bad. There have been some positive aspects to the season as well, mostly in the form of phenomenal rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who appears to be well on his way to becoming the first Sixer Rookie of the Year since Allen Iverson. Carter-Williams is dominating all other rookies is virtually all statistical categories, and he looks as though he can be a huge factor in the future of the franchise.
Carter-Williams leads all rookies in minutes (34.6), points (17.5), assists (6.7), rebounds (5.7), steals (2.5), and turnovers (3.4 – hey, he’s not perfect) per game, as well as double-doubles recorded with eight. Pretty impressive start to the season, and his career, for MCW.
So, the Sixers season hasn’t been pretty to this point, especially for someone who was expecting a playoff push (but why were you expecting that anyway?). The team, young as it is, makes a ton of mistakes, plays poor defense, allows too many threes and turns the ball over entirely too much. But, they play hard, and the point guard play of Michael Carter-Williams has been a bright spot, and something for both the franchise and the fanbase to build off of going forward.
The Sixers remain several steps away from true contention, and this struggle of a season used to evaluate and develop young talent is simply a small step in the right direction.
No, it hasn’t been pretty and the second half of the season might get even uglier, especially if key contributors are traded away. But, if you are going to build a solid house you need to start with the foundation, and that is exactly what Sam Hinkie, Brett Brown and the rest of the front office is doing with the franchise.
It will be interesting to see what the second half of the season has in store for the Sixers.