Only 16 games into the season, the Philadelphia 76ers playoff hopes are already almost diminished. Almost. The Sixers haven’t won a game, and tonight they play the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. Still, the question just begs to be asked: can the Sixers still make the NBA Playoffs?
Listen, I’m not saying this team is a Finals contender by any means, but it’s a little unfair to count them out when the season isn’t even a quarter of the way through.
Many Sixers fans are critical of Nerlens Noel’s play so far. Noel is averaging 7.8 points per game. What people need to realize is that this is Noel’s first season playing in the NBA. He just came back from an injury that had him sidelined in his rookie season. He is also one of the most talented defensive players the NBA has seen from a rookie center in a while. He has great potential to become one of the NBA’s top defenders down the road. Noel is a star, he just needs time to get adjusted to the NBA level of play.
Another reason the Sixers have had a slow start is the absence of star point guard Michael Carter-Williams. Take the best player away from any team in the NBA and I can guarantee you the team won’t play as well without them. Carter-Williams is that guy for Philly.
Last season he was the recipient of the Kia Rookie of the Year Award, scoring 16.7 points per game. He also lead the team in APG, BPG, and RPG. That’s not a typo folks — a point guard averaged more rebounds and blocks per game than any other player on his team. That just shows how important Carter-Williams is to the Sixers and their chances. He has already made a large impact on his team after returning, averaging 14 points per game and 6 rebounds per game. His return will greatly increase the Sixers’ playoff chances.
An unexpected star has also risen in Philadelphia. Tony Wroten stepped into a leadership role during the absence of Carter-Williams. Last season, Wroten had a solid season playing in 72 games and averaging 13.0 points per game. Now, he is averaging 18 points per game to go with 6.3 assists and 2 steals per game. Sixers fans have been anxiously awaiting the emergence of Wroten. They won’t be waiting much longer.
So Sixers fans, don’t quit yet. Don’t “be patient” yet. There’s plenty of season left. There’s many wins to come. Just hang on a little bit longer. Don’t count the Sixers out yet.