BOSTON -- For years, Philly fans have been asked to “Trust the Process” as the team went about building itself in a rather non-traditional manner.
They stunk, and teams that stink get high draft picks.
And so they continued to stink and continued to pile up the most highly regarded players with the goal that someday, all that young talent would come of age which would transform the organization from a league laughingstock to a playoff contender.
There’s still a lot of time left in this season, but all indications are that the Sixers’ time has arrived.
Philadelphia (12-8) hasn’t had this kind of success this early in years, the kind of success that they are looking to build on against the Boston Celtics (18-4) who boast the best record in the NBA.
And making the Sixers’ rise even more surprising is the unorthodox manner in which they accumulated talent, almost strictly through lots of losses which they then turned into high draft picks that are starting to blossom into superstars before our eyes.
Joel Embiid, who does not play in back-to-back games which is why he’s out tonight, has emerged as one of the NBA’s top big men. He's averaging a double-double of 22.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.
And Ben Simmons, who missed all of last season due to injury, has been the front-runner for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.He is averaging 18.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.2 assists.
Philadelphia also has rookie of the year runner-up Dario Saric back for his second NBA season, in addition to Markelle Fultz (shoulder) who was taken with the number one overall pick in last June’s NBA draft and is currently out with a shoulder injury.
Boston’s ascension came about in a different manner, but there’s no arguing with the results that we’re starting to see from the Sixers who are four games above-.500 despite having the toughest schedule thus far in the NBA.
“We’re playing NBA royalty,” quipped Sixers head coach Brett Brown, referring to Philadelphia having already played Cleveland, Houston, Golden State and tonight the Boston Celtics.
“Philly’s got a really good team,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “They’ve been really well coached for a long time, and have good young talent.”
Here’s what Boston’s Kyrie Irving had to say about Philadelphia’s rebuild.
“I don’t know if it’s the conventional way, the way things have been done in NBA history but it’s working for them,” Irving said. “They’ve had some high-caliber talent come in that they drafted well and had guys that may not have played their first season due to injuries, stuff like that, but when they’re on the floor they’re pretty effective. Just a great group of young guys trying to develop, and (find) a spot for themselves in this league.”
When asked about Philadelphia’s team and how they came about, Al Horford quipped, “I think it worked out pretty good. Those guys … it worked out really well.”
Horford added, “That’s not the way you want to do it but it worked out great. You have a guy like Joel Embiid, you have Ben Simmons. You just have a lot of great players over there and you bring in some veterans, J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson … all of a sudden, you’re a playoff team. The future is very bright for them.”