The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t just the worst team in the NBA this season, still win-less after 17 games; they might also be the worst team in the history of the league. The San Antonio Spurs didn’t really find beating them a problem at all, despite having Kawhi Leonard do some extra work because of his resting and injured teammates.
Leonard scored 26 points as the Spurs beat the 76ers 109-103, playing without Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, but that didn’t really bother them against the young, inexperienced and terrible group from Philadelphia, still looking for their first win since April 16, 2014. The epitome of the terrible tank job, the 76ers are all about an unknown future, but all the while looking terrible in the present, and are a blot on the league for allowing their system to be exposed like this.
You can’t expect the Spurs to take the game seriously when the 76ers aren’t taking the league and the season seriously. The players are trying, but the group assembled by Sam Hinkie, led by Michael Carter-Williams, scoring 24 points, is incapable of providing any sort of success that goes beyond a win here or there. Head coach Brett Brown sacrifices his record and his resume, which might be damaged irreparably after these two seasons so Hinkie’s masterplan of rebuilding can come forth.
The Sixers do have some moments of making it fun on the court. They’re a young team that can play fast basketball, but while last year they managed to catch some teams off guard, this season they’re mostly making everyone feel sorry for them. There’s nothing worse for a professional athlete than knowing you’re being pitied. It’s not stopping teams from running the Sixers into the ground, while all the while they’re being looked upon as the poor boy who doesn’t really stand a chance playing with the big kids.
Aron Baynes scored 15 points, Cory Joseph did his usual good job of filling in for Tony Parker by scoring 14 points, Manu Ginobili scored 14, Matt Bonner was perfect from the field (5-for-5) to score 12 points and Marco Belinelli finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds including one dunk that came out of nowhere considering how unknown Belinelli’s dunking ability is. Against the 76ers, suddenly everyone feels a bit more confident in doing things they don’t usually do.
Sadly, this is one of those games that tells us nothing about either team. It’s more about the way this league sets up teams to fail on purpose in order to give themselves a possibility to succeed. Tanking has been going on forever, but it feels like doing it on purpose before the season even started is a more recent trend. And the Sixers are doing it for a second straight season, better (or worse) depends on your point of view, than anyone in history.