The start of the 2017-18 NBA season is near. There will be scores of articles previewing teams by win-loss record, roster additions and subtractions and protected win total. There is also a feeling surrounding this season that we’re headed towards the inevitability of a Golden State Warriors championship. Thus, some of the fun is met with a bit of gloom.
Cheer up, lover of hoops. Basketball is a sport in which the journey of the season is just as important as its destination in the Finals. We’re going to highlight some things and people the basketball realm can be excited for between now and June.
Fans of the Philadelphia 76ers have endured years of pestilence. “Tanking,” the politically incorrect label given to teams willing to sacrifice winning seasons for high draft picks, hung high in the halls of the franchise like the team’s 1982-83 championship banner. Allen Iverson’s ghost could be seen holding his ear to the crowd, listening for postseason cheers and met with the sound of lottery ping pong balls rattling in their cage. Echoing loudly with each game Joel Embiid missed was the timeless mantra, “Trust The Process”–a label Embiid wore like a superhero cape, even if for just 31 games.
Trust The Process pic.twitter.com/LLNzDiBWpc
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 17, 2017
Now, that cape is a symbol of something Sixers fans now have…hope.
In addition to a healthy Embiid, the Sixers finally get a healthy Ben Simmons. Simmons, like Embiid in his first two years since being drafted, has yet to suit up for Philly. However, all signs point to him no longer being held back by an injured foot, which means we finally get to see if his LeBron-esque game in college can translate to the NBA. Oh, and the one rookie who played extended minutes, Dario Saric, is a piece of The Process that seems to be overlooked.
Also, Jahlil Okafor is still on the team.
The Sixers also selected Markelle Fultz No. 1 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. With this nucleus of young talent, hope springs anew in The City of Brotherly Love–a proud basketball town. It’s something that’s not lost on Philly’s head coach, Brett Brown.
“I look at people that are going to be around here for a while. I look at legitimate talent. I look at this facility. We’ve worked incredibly hard, and everybody knows, to grow a culture and how we do things. … This place is alive and it was in June. … It’s way different than it was in 2013.” — Brett Brown, via Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly
But lo, hope also brings with it a cautionary ideal: the assumption. Hope bears the flimsy foundation of maybe. Health, chemistry and development are three components of the process in which no scientist or basketball engineer can make more than a variable. In short, even The Process needs to go through The Process.
The Sixers need to look no further than across the country at the Warriors for the epitome of positive results of The Process. While the team by The Bay didn’t give off the appearance of worsening its on-court product in hopes of bettering its chances at a high prospect for multiple years, the Warriors have successfully built its core nucleus through the draft. The Spurs under Gregg Popovich have tinkered with the philosophy and reaped the benefits of it for over two decades. If the purpose of a franchise is to build the best possible championship contender, while not having to rely too heavily on retooling through free agency, then The Process is a viable strategy.
Most analysts project the Sixers to make the playoffs in a much diluted Eastern Conference. Even though youth trends to go through a rough maturation procedure, this Philly team has the talent to score some big wins as it learns to become a contender. Maybe elite status will be reached sooner than later. Sixers fans can only trust the process.
Sidenote, did you know Emeka Okafor was also on the Sixers?
Poemer. 8-time Hug Champion. Pick&Roll Enthusiast. Guardian of Logic and Tact. Apocalypse’s good Brother. Collector of muted souls for Mt. Filtermanjaro.