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76ers look toward future after dismal season

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 17, 2014 at 6:51 pm •  Published: April 17, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers opened the season with a win against Miami, and they beat the Heat again in the finale.

It was the rest of the NBA that gave the Sixers fits.

The Sixers entered this season in clear rebuild mode — labeled around the league as tanking — and they lived up to their preseason billing as one of the worst in the league in record fashion: Philadelphia matched an NBA record with a 26-game losing streak.

Around the city, the streak was mostly met with a shrug or a few laughs.

There was no real outrage because losing was part of Philadelphia's blueprint all along. Owner Joshua Harris, general manager Sam Hinkie and rookie coach Brett Brown never hid the fact this 19-63 season was simply a painful part of the plan to build a contender.

Now comes the fun part for Hinkie, who likely will get two cracks at a draft lottery for what's considered a deep field. Names from this season's dismal effort like Casper Ware and Brandon Davies will be forgotten years down the road. It is visions of Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins in a Sixers uniform that have teased the fan base and put management on notice since the fall.

The Milwaukee Bucks were the only team with a worse record, giving them a 25 percent chance at landing the No. 1 overall pick. The Sixers have a 19.9 percent chance at No. 1 but are also owed New Orleans' lottery pick because of a draft-night trade in 2013.

With two first-rounders, the Sixers believe they can land the necessary players to combine with rookie of the year favorite Michael Carter-Williams and injured rookie Nerlens Noel to form a contender in another two or three seasons.

Until then, the brighter times are far, far on the horizon.

"It was a year of development," Brown said Thursday. "Whether it's the emergence of a practice facility where you have your own home. Whether it's the draft opportunities that are coming up, influenced obviously by ping pong balls. Whether it's Sam Hinkie's talents continuing to be shown in how we use his judgments in analytics. ... That's why I feel excited we're going in the direction we need to go."

Hinkie has proved in the last year he's not afraid to shake up the Sixers, as needed.

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