The results shouldn’t be surprising.
Not even a disheartening two-point loss to the previously winless Orlando Magic.
Glance up and down the Philadelphia 76ers roster and there’s youth – lots and lots of youth. There are undrafted players such as Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson. There are players such Nerlens Noel competing in the NBA for the first time. Noel exited the Magic loss with a sprained left ankle and his immediate availability for upcoming games is unclear.
The Sixers have played five games. They’re 0-5. It’s their first 0-5 start since 2001-02, the year after Allen Iverson carried the Sixers to the NBA Finals. Iverson was injured at the beginning of the ’01-02 season and the Sixers dropped five in a row.
This group of Sixers is much different. It’s going to take a near perfect game for them to win.
How does coach Brett Brown judge their progress?
“I think I would answer that in two ways,” Brown said. “I would first go to the individuals … (Improvement from) the pieces are a fair judgment. What I hope, from a team standpoint, is that people say, ‘They’re getting better defensively,’ because we were poor last year. I think the numbers will bear out that we are trying to build and grow a defensive program.
“I hope that the numbers bear out, after the 82 games, that say what I just said we spend a lot of time doing. I think those measurements are things the fans and writers can accurately assess.”
Before Noel was injured against the Magic, he played a solid game in Monday’s loss to the Houston Rockets. Matchup against Dwight Howard was a gargantuan task?
“I think he deserves a lot of praise,” Brown said. “He had to front Dwight Howard and make him work and for him to run the floor and show personality and a level of passion, that’s what I think this city will end up falling in love with. He had six steals and five assists, which is really good. He was in the game.”
But Noel came down with just one rebound.
“When you’re leaning on people so much trying to box out and playing in front of people, (Noel) doesn’t have the luxury of being a free safety and chasing balls,” Brown said. “Maybe when he starts to get bigger and learns the NBA and the angles of shots you can say, ‘Nerlens, don’t worry about blocks. Just go out and chase balls. You’re a 6-foot-11 athlete.’ I think the tape will show he was leaning and he wasn’t free to chase.”
Every night is going to be a learning experience.
“It was definitely a new experience,” Noel said. “I never played anyone that big and I’m sure no one ever plays against someone that big.”
The Sixers will host Joakim Noah and the Chicago Bulls Friday night before a four-game road trip against the Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.
Philadelphia could very well be 0-10 before hosting the Boston Celtics on Nov. 19.
Could they challenge their own dubious mark of 9-73 in 1972-73? It seems possible.
In the meantime, it’s about finding ways to improve individually and as a team. This won’t be easy.
“I think we’re all on the same page in terms of working together and wanting the same things,” said Tony Wroten, who has filled in admirably while Michael Carter-Williams continues to rehab from offseason labrum surgery. “We’re all sticking together. We’re all working hard every day and listening to the coaches. We want to do well so badly. We’re all in this together.”