BY PAUL MANCANO
Guess what day it is, guess what day it is.
Also, SIXERS OPENING DAAAYYYY.
I don’t remember being this excited for a season since… last season. But before that, since… Bynum. But before that, since the Iverson era. So not very long ago. But I’m still excited. Irrationally excited.
Not because the Sixers will be good, because ha. And not even because we’ll be bad, because I don’t really care all that much how many games we lose. We already got our (potential) blue chip in Joel Embiid. The top pick in the draft is not an absolute necessity, especially given he’ll probably be a big.
No, I’m excited to see stuff get weird. I want to see Alexey Shved run the point. I want to see Jerami Grant body up with LeBron. I want to see LaVarus Holland play 30 minutes a night. (To be clear: LaVarus Holland is not a real player. He just sounds like a guy Hinkie would sign.)
I’m excited to see the development. The Flattopped Menace, Nerlens Noel, adding weight and a jump shot. Wingman (and future starter) K.J. McDaniels learning how to run in transition in the NBA. Brandon Davies learning what a basketball is.
Once again, there will be some 75-point clunkers. The February trade deadline will be one of the highlights of the season. Next year’s draft class talk will dominate discussions in Sixers circles. But it’s all for the fun of the rebuild.
They won’t be good, but they’ll be fun to watch for the select few of us that like watching 19-year-old kids getting beat up by much older, stronger men. And then lose many games in a row. It’s kind of sick when you think about.
Anyway, here are the predictions, straight from the Moose’s mouth, broken down by month.
After a blowout at the hands of the not-so-great Pacers, the Sixers top Jabari Parker and the Bucks in Game number 2. Noel gets his first NBA block against his own team after Shved puts up an incredibly pitiful shot, forcing an intense Noel to “get that junk outta here.”
Desperate to win the starting job from an injured Michael Carter-Williams, Tony Wroten puts on one of the most confusing performances in recent memory on Opening Night. The point guard puts up 32 points and dishes out 14 assists, but also commits an NBA-record 16 turnovers. He then fouls out with ten minutes left.
The team struggles mightily in the absence of the reigning Rookie of the Year, stealing the sole win of the month from a hapless Celtics team. Noel looks just terrible through the first month of the season, converting a measly 41% of his shots. He’s pushed out of the paint and overpowered by guys like Tim Duncan (well, DUH), Carmelo Anthony, and LaMarcus Aldridge. Some Philadelphians press the panic button on the Flattopped Menace. Most ask, “Oh, did the season start?”
In a home game against the Magic, Aaron Gordon, a rookie whose jump shot has been much maligned, becomes enamored with the three, a la Manute Bol. The Sixers are so terrible at defending the arc, he hits his first six attempts, before Nerlens finally puts a stop to it by swatting one into the fifth row.
MCDubbs returns and breathes life into the team, but he’s not the only reason for the December resurgence. During a six-game stretch from December 12th to the 23rd, Brandon Davies inexplicably dominates. In that magical stretch, Davies, who we know for a fact has had sex with a real live woman, averages 23 points along with 11 boards. The Philadelphia sports media completely reverses course, prematurely anointing him the best big man to come to Philly since Barkley. MVP talk around Davies is quickly doused, however, after Davies comes back to earth with a 0-12 against the Heat. December 12-23 will forever be known as the Twelve Days of Daviesmas.
When the Sixers go to Utah to take on the Jazz, head coach Brett Brown can be seen chatting it up before the game with point guard and (former) future Sixer Dante Exum in Austrailian, which is not a language. Brown can just do everything.
For the second-straight year, your Philadelphia 76ers SHOCK THE WORLD by beating a team with 4-TIME MVP LEBRON JAMES on the roster. Brown has KJ McDaniels cover James, who is no match for KJ’s elite defense and disconcerting eyebrows. The euphoria that envelopes the city is soon dampened when Noel goes down two days later. Immediately after dunking over Jabari Parker, Noel crumples to the ground with three broken ankles—yes, three. But the prognosis isn’t too bad. He’ll be back.
Meanwhile, Joel Embiid is enjoying life on the road in the NBA. He spends a night in L.A. at Abigail Breslin’s birthday party, tweeting drunkenly and incessantly in garbled Frenchglisharoonian (a combination of French, English, and his native tongue, Cameroonian). To those who still know who Abigail Breslin is: thank you.
About halfway through his sophomore season, MCW is suffering from the Nick Foles Effect. Having overplayed his potential in 2013-14, Carter-Williams is slipping under the pressure of maintaining the success he experienced last season. Brett Brown can often be seen chiding him on the bench during timeouts. But when Brown is asked about his relationship with his point guard, he’s nothing but complimentary, calling MCW the “best leader he could ask for.”
At the trade deadline, the Amar’e Stoudemire deal we’ve been hearing about for over a year finally gets done, with the Sixers taking home a 2020 second-rounder and Shane Larkin. They buy-out Amar’e and find a comfortable roll for Larkin. A slightly less probable move: Hinkie somehow acquires a near-death Kobe Bryant for all three of his 2019 second-round picks, then instantaneously buys him out. Kobe enjoys a nice cheesesteak from Larry’s during the four-hour Philadelphia Kobe era.
In addition, Sam Hinkie somehow wheels and deals his way to four more future second-round picks.
The Sixers fail to win a game in the month of February.
The team’s dry spell reaches 24, just short of the NBA-record and last year’s mark. But all is forgiven when Nerlens returns in dramatic fashion, dropping 22 points against Julius Randle and the Lakers. Thus would be the start of a superb finish to the season for Noel. For the first time since his Kentucky days, he looks competent offensively. His defensive game also meshes nicely with that of McDaniels, with the pair wreaking havoc at the rim.
On the flip side, however, Shved looks Shveddier than ever. The famous worried look he often sported in Minnesota has now become a permanent facial expression for the Russian. To make matters worse, he overcompensates for his struggles, and while trying to do too much, injures himself horribly. Yeesh.
Josh Harris pushes Brown to play a now-fully healthy Joel Embiid in the last month in order to excite the fan base going into the 2015-16 season. In a stunning move, Brown finally relents, allowing Embiid exactly of three minutes of action. JoJo does not disappoint, at one point throwing down a dunk so thunderous, the rim is snapped off. As he trots to the bench, Embiid hands the rim to fiancé Rihanna.
Sixers fans are jazzed, and the Jahlil Okafor vs. Emmanuel Mudiay vs. Kelly Oubre debates rumble in the distance as summer begins.
Oh, and the Thunder knock off the Cavs in six games to win the title.
You heard it here first, folks.