Every six months or so, ESPN Insider publishes its Future Power Rankings projecting how the 30 NBA teams will fare over the next three seasons. And every six months or so, we’re reminded that the 76ers of Philadelphia are destined for eternal mediocrity.
That was, until Sam Hinkie took over as general manager in May 2013, blew up the team, then stocked up on prospects and draft picks. Or so you’d think.
ESPN’s September edition of the rankings has the Sixers at 19th, which is an improvement from last year’s (25th) though more or less exactly where they’ve been since the rankings were launched by Chad Ford and John Hollinger in Nov. 2009.1
But while the Sixers are set for another lottery-bound season, and perhaps another one or two after that, there’s reason for optimism. For one, they are projected to win more games over the next three years than the Celtics (24th), Knicks (25th), and Nets (30th) of the Atlantic Division, and aren’t far behind the Toronto Raptors (11th).
But the better news – if an updated projection is considered news – is that there are indications in the rating system’s metrics (current players, management, cap situation, market, future draft picks) that the Sixers will be on the rise after the 2016-17 season. No team rates higher than the Sixers for the “Draft” and “Money” categories and while they rank middle of the pack in “Management” and “Market,” and are 25th (tied) in “Players” – the category that carries the most weight – there’s reason to believe those areas have room for growth.
Via ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh:
Elsewhere, management led by Hinkie and coach Brett Brown appears to be progressive, but unproven. The city of Philadelphia isn’t a top draw, but it’s a fairly large market waiting to be tapped. The Sixers are trying to be the team of the future, but the target is just so far away at this point that we can’t justify a higher ranking. Sit tight, Philly fans. This is going to be a long, bumpy ride.
A long, bumpy ride indeed. But, if the “19″ holds, it’ll be just as bumpy as the last three seasons, and the three before that, and the three before that. And unlike before, there’s finally a clear plan in place. Because of that, the Sixers will eventually escape mediocrity. In half a decade. Maybe.
1. The Sixers have ranked between 16th and 25th in every edition of the future rankings since its 2009 launch. Fittingly, they have the 21st most wins in that four-year span.