The 76ers will open their regular season tonight at Boston.
It’s likely to be the beginning of an arduous 82-game marathon.
After compiling only 37 victories in the past two seasons combined, the Sixers aren’t expected to win very much again.
There are a possible four – count ‘em, four – first-round draft picks on the way in the 2016 NBA Draft. With a number of conditions looming, it’s impossible to predict where those picks will fall.
But that’s at the end of the 2015-16 season. It begins tonight against the upstart Celtics.
“I know what people are saying, that they don’t expect much from us,” said forward Jerami Grant. “We keep putting in good days like coach (Brett Brown) says all the time. We want to keep developing and keep improving. We don’t really listen to anything said on the outside. Everything comes within here. We’re going to put in the work.”
There is hope, though, and it starts down low with the pairing of Nerlens Noel and No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor.
Surely, there will be growing pains as the season progresses. Watching how this duo co-exists is truly worth watching.
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“He’s a big body, and it’s great for me to be playing with someone like that,” Noel said of Okafor. “It’s much different than playing with others. I’m very excited about it. He’s someone who knows the game and has so much ability. Jah is definitely a great player and will get better every day here. I think it brings us to a new level here and it’s a another block to be built here.”
An already thin team in terms of depth has been besieged with injuries, most notably to shooting guard Nik Stauskas, forward Robert Covington and point guard Tony Wroten. There are other injuries as well, and it only makes an already challenging season that much tougher.
Brown said at the end of last season that winning would be very important in his third season on the Sixers sideline.
There don’t appear to be too many victories in the immediate future.
“I don’t back-pedal from any of it,” Brown said during a meeting with reporters before training camp. “I remember my comments well and why wouldn’t it be? It has to be something. We’re not downplaying the importance of winning. That’s why we all sort of do our job. I don’t believe that that is our complete report card. I still don’t believe that our judgment day is here yet. We are still in the growth of identifying people and growing people but we are extremely competitive. I am extremely competitive like all NBA coaches and so we do want to get more wins. We do want to grow our own. How can we not?”