HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – I suppose the easy way of looking at the Philadelphia 76ers these days would be to scan the Eastern Conference standings and act all shocked and surprised that this crew is sitting in the No. 2 spot. (Seriously, check for yourself. They’re holding down the No. 2 spot.)
It feels like there might be something much more substantial going on with the Sixers than just early season good vibrations. Winning nine out of 10 games during any stretch of the season is something to talk about. And the Sixers remain just one of four teams – San Antonio, Chicago and Indiana are the others — yet to lose a home game this season. (Returning your top 11 players from a year ago does wonders in a season that could be defined, to an extent, by the compressed schedule.)
But if we lost our beloved game for five months so teams could build a sound foundation from the ground up (with solid drafting, shrewd free agent moves, wise spending and the flexibility to nurture your own nucleus), it’s not a stretch to say that the Sixers embody the new model for a franchise aiming to move up in the pecking order.
Sure, they have a couple of robust contracts (Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala) on their books, but everything else is more than manageable. They have drafted well (Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, Evan Turner, Nikola Vucevic) the last few seasons and added the right pieces via trades (Spencer Hawes, Jodie Meeks, Andres Nocioni) and free agency (Tony Battie). And they have cohesion as a group — Williams, a reserve, leads them in scoring (16.2) — that has to be the envy of other franchises dreaming about chasing a playoff spot.