If you are a Philadelphia 76ers fan, you can practically feel the panic in the streets of the City of Brotherly Love. You can see Sixers fans getting nervous, wondering if Adam Silver and the NBA will try to stop the Sam Hinkie Plan from going forward.All the elements are in place for Tank 2.0 during the 2014-15 season and the league might derail them, forcing the Sixers to have to try to, you know, win.
Why do I bring up the Sixers? Because not too long ago, the Sixers and the Milwaukee Bucks were two teams in a very similar set of circumstances. Both the Bucks and the Sixers were organizations stuck in the infuriating middle of the NBA standings, not bad enough to truly be terrible, not good enough to have a realistic chance to compete for an NBA title.
Both franchises saw new ownership come in, promising big changes and a vow to make them a contender again. Both saw the incredibly deep 2014 NBA Draft as the key to jump starting that rebuilding effort and decided that sacrificing the 2013-14 season was the best way to do that.
That, however, is where the similarities end.
Whereas Hinkie and the Sixers tried very hard to be bad, disposing of any talent they had left at the trade deadline in February and bringing in a parade of 10-day contracts and D-League players to fill the roster, the Bucks did it the old fashioned way: they just really were that bad.
That’s not to say the Bucks didn’t try to win every night, because they did. It was just a case of mixing older, established players with a group of younger, inexperienced kids just didn’t mesh and the result was the 15-67 record the team finished the season with.
In the long run it was the best thing the Bucks ever did, because it netted them the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft and Jabari Parker. Combined with their 2013 pick, forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, they have the foundation of a solid, exciting team that now has a serious chance of contending for an NBA championship in just a few short years.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Sixers drafted two players in 2014 who are not going to see the inside of the Wells Fargo Center for at least a year, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. Hinkie has committed to putting a bad Sixers team on the court in order to improve through the draft for a second straight year and has many fans wondering when the rebuilding will end and the winning will start.
It’s why when the story broke on Grantland that the NBA was seriously looking at reforming the lottery for as early as the 2015 draft, all eyes turned to the Sixers, even though you would think any changes would also effect the Bucks. I mean, the team is still at the very least a couple years away from being a playoff team and are almost certainly headed for the lottery again next year. Why was all the focus on the 76ers?
Because the Bucks are ready to move on to the next phase of rebuilding this team.
It really is that simple. The Bucks lost a season, got their man in Parker and are now primed to begin assembling a team around him. They have Antetokounmpo already and a young, talented point guard in Brandon Knight.
And unlike the Sixers, the Bucks have shown they are not afraid of using free agency, signing Jerryd Bayless and Kendall Marshall. Along with new coach Jason Kidd, they are ready to start putting the pieces together and making the Bucks a team to be feared in the Central Division.
While the Sixers are still finding pieces and worried that the NBA might change the rules on them.
The Bucks and the Sixers; two teams that started last season in a very similar situation. And now they enter the 2014-15 season about as far apart as two franchises can get. Let’s hope the second phase of the Bucks rebuild is as successful as the first.