January 20, 2017
Things really can change on a dime in the NBA season. When we checked in on the Sixers’ draft pick status just a few weeks ago, the landscape looked very different than it does today. The day after that post, the Sixers won in Denver, kicking off a run of seven victories in nine games.
For the last few months, the Sixers have been a downright average NBA team. This counts as substantial progress around here. Check out the numbers since December 1st:
• 10-12 record
• -2.2 net rating (17th out of 30)
• 103.2 defensive rating (5th out of 30)
The playoffs still feel like a reach, but I also thought the over-under of 27.5 wins was crazy and now it certainly isn’t. The lottery picture is a mess, partially because the race for the Western Conference eight seed is a mess. The Sixers (7th to last) are 2.5 games ahead of Miami (2nd to last) and 2 games back of Portland (11th to last).
If the Sixers keep playing like this, they have a chance to jump some teams. The good news about that is…
1. Rudy Gay unfortunately tore his Achilles last night. Before you say “Rudy Gay isn’t that good!,” he has been an important piece for Sacramento. He’s the only Kings rotation player sporting a positive point differential, and without him on the floor, they’re getting outscored by 10 points per 100 possessions. That’s a lot.
2. At 16-25, the Kings are about to embark on an eight-game road trip: At Memphis, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Indiana, Charlotte, Philly, and Houston. Yikes.
As a reminder, if the Kings first-round selection falls within the top-10 and it is higher than where the Sixers finish, those draft picks will be swapped. And while that looked like a remote possibility a month ago, you bet that is in play now.
It feels like we’re headed for the Lakers representative at the lottery (maybe Mitch Kupchak again) sweating bullets on national television for a third straight year.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann