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Will 76ers' patience finally start to bear fruit this season?

Philadelphia continues to stockpile talent, picks and hope

POSTED: Oct 24, 2015 11:01 AM ET

By Lang Whitaker

BY Lang Whitaker


At some point, the Philadelphia 76ers will stop flipping players and start actually winning. But so far in GM Sam Hinkie's tenure, the Sixers have seemed content to tread water at the bottom of the standings, with an understanding that one day all the accumulated assets are going to turn into something substantial.

When will that day come? After a combined 37 wins over the last two seasons, that's the question that so far hasn't had a concrete answer. But now, with a healthy Nerlens Noel alongside Jahlil Okafor, the Sixers could have a significant post presence this season. And maybe, just maybe, the start of something substantial.


The Sixers used 25 players last season and had 41 different starting lineups. ... 2014 lottery pick Joel Embiid, who missed all of last season, will likely miss the 2015-16 season as well. ... The Sixers have had the rights to 21-year-old Croatian forward Dario Saric for a few years, but Saric is still under contract in Europe and won't be joining the NBA until next summer, at the earliest. ... The Sixers don't seem ready to give up on the slow-build strategy anytime soon. As managing owner Joshua Harris told Philadelphia Magazine: "Not winning now is really tough on me. I'm very impatient. I'll always wish that we're further along than we are. I want to win today, but I'm not willing to sacrifice the long run to do that."


1. After sitting out his first season to recover from injury, Nerlens Noel debuted last year and turned in a solid season. He played in 75 games and finished seventh in the NBA in blocks per game (1.9). Noel reportedly worked on his shooting this offseason.

2. Sixers coach Brett Brown has essentially been handicapped by the roster rebuild, but told he's still energized to see the franchise continue to develop: "I'm very proud of now going into our third year, where I feel like you can say this is how we play offense — stats show it, you hear me talk about it. This is how we play defense — stats show it, you hear me talk about it. The development side, the sport science side, the analytics side, you know you've heard a lot of it but over two years and now going into the third you're starting to be able to, I think, legitimately see some teeth of what we're trying to grow."

3. According to Hinkie, Joel Embiid will be in a cast for a few more weeks, and then will once again begin the rehabilitation process. "He can't do very much right now. The things he can do, which are limited, are nutrition, medication, sleep and staying off [his foot.]."


Many thought Duke's Jahlil Okafor might be the first pick in the 2015 Draft, but when Okafor fell to the three spot, Philly pounced on arguably the best offensive big man in years. Okafor will get an opportunity to play right away, and have Noel behind him to offer some protection defensively. As Brown said after seeing them together on the court, "They looked good. You can tell there's an excitement of maybe what can happen growing this. It's unusual. It would be an outlier almost in the NBA to roll out two 'bigs' like that. There are two or three teams have something like that."


Tony Wroten | 16.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.2 apg
Started last season strong before a knee injury. Once healthy, could be Philly's answer at the point.

Nik Stauskas | 4.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.9 apg
Acquired from Sacramento, outside shooter should thrive in Philly's system.

Nerlens Noel | 9.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.7 apg
With health issues behind him, development on offensive end is worth watching.

Robert Covington | 13.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 apg
Had a solid first season with the Sixers.

Jahlil Okafor | Rookie
Should step right into Philly's starting lineup.


Isaiah Canaan | 12.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.1 apg
Will play plenty in Wroten's absence.

Jerami Grant | 6.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.2 apg
Brother of Knicks rookie Jerian Grant.

Joel Embiid | Rookie
Chances are slim at best that we see Embiid this season.


It hasn't always been pretty, but the Sixers are finally starting to see some of the fruits of their labor from the last two seasons.

Lang Whitaker has covered the NBA since 1998. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

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