More than ever, there seems to be a growing group of NBA teams adopting the bottoming-out strategy, gutting their rosters, piling up young assets and angling for a high selection in next summer’s loaded draft.
And the trendsetter for this ‘season of tanking’ is probably the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that currently sits at the bottom of most preseason power rankings (including ours). Already a 48-loss team a season ago, Philly lost Andrew Bynum to free agency, traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holliday to New Orleans and got back a first-round pick (Nerlens Noel) who is still months away from returning from an ACL injury.
The Sixers have young talent and an energized new coach (former Spurs assistant Brett Brown), but 2013-14 is clearly setting up as the first stage of a massive rebuild.
And as they prepare to face the Thunder on Tuesday in a preseason game in Manchester (tip at 2 p.m. CT on NBA TV), they’ll get an up close look at a superstar and franchise that went through the same thing not too long ago.
One night after Kevin Durant was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics back in 2007, his new team shipped future Hall of Famer Ray Allen to Boston and, less than two weeks later, lost sharpshooter Rashard Lewis to the Orlando Magic.
“It was tough for me especially coming in as a young player,” Durant told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday. “I thought I was going to play with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis when they were All-Stars every year.”
Because of that, Durant said he can empathize with some of the young Sixers, who are entering a year that may mirror the 20-62 one that KD and the Sonics went through back in 2007-08.
“Every game it was tough knowing that it was going to be hard for us to win,” Durant told the paper. “But what we did was come in and work hard every day, and know that it was going to be a process and maybe a tough year…You just have to keep pushing through it.”