The 76ers’ fan base is passionate and clearly starved for a winner. That much is obvious by how many season tickets have been sold since the franchise selected Washington guard Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick.
It looks as if most of the home games for the 2017-18 season will be close to sellouts.
And why not?
With Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Fultz leading the way, the Sixers will be one of the most attractive young teams in the league. The phone lines have been ringing like crazy since Fultz was added to the mix of young talent.
After four wretched seasons with 75 total victories, the fans will finally be treated to some real basketball at the Wells Fargo Center.
Before getting too carried away, it’s time for a bit of a reality check.
Could the Sixers work their way into the playoffs next season? Sure.
Is it a probability? Simply put — no.
Aside from Saric, who showed amazing toughness and resiliency in his rookie season, Simmons and Embiid played a total of 31 games. Fultz will be making his NBA debut when the season starts and he’s still a teenager at 19.
Embiid was restricted with minutes and eventually shut down for surgery. Simmons never donned a Sixers uniform after breaking a bone in his foot in training camp.
It takes time to build chemistry on the court and this young Sixers core needs time together. There just can’t be minute restrictions next season. There can’t be long-term injuries. There also has to be veteran leadership aside from Jerryd Bayless and Gerald Henderson.
“The fan base is responding and reacting to the way this team not only plays on the court but the way they present themselves to the public,” Sixers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo said. “It’s a fun group. It’s an attractive group. It’s a marketable group. But they are good basketball players and they are coming together at the right time, and we’re going to try and make the right decisions to finish this project.
“It is an ongoing building scenario here. So we’re building, we’re all about winning, but we do it with people that you like and when there are common beliefs and common vision, it makes it that much more special and that’s what we are seeing with this group.”
When the Sixers selected Allen Iverson No. 1 overall in the 1996 draft, they went on to win a whopping 22 games that season. Iverson was electric throughout the season, but the Sixers struggled mightily.
It took time for the franchise to reach the NBA Finals in ’01.
The Sixers could ascend to the Finals once again in five years, but they need to continue building. More importantly, they need to play.
Fultz is a nice piece, but he doesn’t seem like a franchise-changer such as Iverson.
“You’re talking, again, about great performance on the floor, a player that does so many different things and we believe someone that’s going to help make his teammates better,” Colangelo said. “He’s a facilitator, he’s a playmaker, but is also a scorer. Could not be happier to be adding Markelle to this mix.”
No argument about Fultz being a very good player. At this stage, let’s not get crazy and place the Sixers in the playoffs just yet.