Philadelphia 76ers Top 100 Moments of 2016 Part I 100-76

The Philadelphia 76ers have survived three seasons of poor results to align with a track to a championship. 2016 is the first year boasting true “pieces” for that team. Was it worth it? Let’s review 2016 Top 100 Events PART I  100-76

The Philadelphia 76ers are not a champion team, yet.  In fact, they are not even a .500 team. But this is a patient team, and a patient fan base.  There are signs now.  2016 was a year of promise. On one hand, the team found hope in the health of Joel Embiid.  On the other hand, the team found promise in the integrity of Dario Saric.  Finally, the team found fortune in the advent of Ben Simmons.  2016 was a full year.  But 2016 is over now.

As it happens each year, the end of 2016 opens the door of opportunity for 2017. The Philadelphia 76ers are that much closer to their destiny. Before rushing headfirst into 2017, let’s reflect on the top stories of 2016

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But in fact, it is the end of 2016 for the Philadelphia 76ers, a year filled with the rainbow of emotions from utter despair to unfettered elation. This was the year of “The Build”. The Philadelphia 76ers has spent three years of austerity to reach this moment in time.

For Who? For What?

The result? An offseason with the equivalent of three lottery picks, two first round equivalents. Both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid join the team, and with Dario Saric, bolster the 76ers roster with talent upgrades.  But the team became active in free agency as well.   Three free agents signed to help the troublesome back court.

The team has talent now, perhaps some of the best in the NBA. But it’s still raw, still developing, maturing, growing, and congealing into the stuff champions are made of.

And so, as we step forward into the unknown of a new year, we pause for that last look back.  We pause to reeaxamine the top 100 events of 2016.  From Faux Pas to Fabulous, we cover them all. To start you off, we examine events we have ranked from 100 to 76.

Dec 26, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (11) heads down court in the second half of the game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. Nuggets won 106-102. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

100

Free Agent Jamal Crawford Plays 76ers To Provoke Better Offer from Los Angeles Clippers

Jamal Crawford is a versatile veteran of the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers need a sixth man, and Crawford delivers in that role beautifully for the team. But that symbiosis was not enough to prevent Crawford from becoming a 2016 Free Agent in the NBA. You see, the NBA is a business. As such, the Los Angeles Clippers were negotiating to get Crawford back on their roster as the cheapest possible price.

And that’s where the Philadelphia 76ers come in. You see, the team was shopping the NBA free agent market hard.

A fool and his money are soon… used to drive up the bid? wha..?

With fist fulls of cash, and specific short term needs, it seemed like an ideal situation for a veteran looking to get maximum value.

The problem with this scenario, Jamal Crawford may not have been authentic in his peceived interest in playing for the Philadelphia 76ers.

In the end, Crawford was merely using the Philadelphia 76ers to drive up the price for the Clippers. Shameful, but it’s all part of the business.

Dec 7, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Jerry Colangelo during a press conference after being named special advisor for the Philadelphia 76ers before a game against the San Antonio Spurs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

99

Jerry Colangelo Declares Nerlens Noel “Just A Rim Protector”

The Philadelphia 76ers have been blessed with three starting caliber centers since draft Duke center Jahlil Okafor with the third pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. Joel Embiid needed a second surgery. The Philadelphia 76ers did not have the option to draft point guard D’Angelo Russell. At three, the best player available was Jahlil Okafor.

And that is when things became “complicated”.

Head coach Brett Brown was as busy as a coach could be. Not planning plays to win games, but trying to determine the best five players to play at a time. In theory, that should have been some combination of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor.  Based on Noel’s athleticism, the guess was to play Noel at the four, and Okafor at the five.

You Shall Not Pass!

But special advisor to the owners, Jerry Colangelo saw an impasse in those plans.  In his view, Noel was limited to playing as just a rim protecting center.

Since that comment was made, it was Jahlil Okafor who was moved to the four to see if he could play that role. Perhaps it never would be. But from the moment Jerry Colangelo spoke, it never will be.

Dec 3, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) reacts against the Boston Celtics during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics defeated the 76ers 107-106. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

98

Jahlil Okafor Knee Injury Shuts Him Down After 53 Games

Not long after the Philadelphia 76ers began to move Jahlil Okafor to the power forward role to allow Nerlens Noel to play center, his season ended to a knee injury. Jahlil Okafor was the team’s leading scorer at 17.5 points per average of 30 minutes per game.

The injury was originally thought to be a shin injury, but as the team monitored his recovery, something felt “not right” with the leg.  Further examinations revealed a tear in his meniscus, and surgery was scheduled.  Due to the timing of the injury, within the last two months of the season, he was unable to return to play.

See you, in September

In fact, his last game played in his first year occurred on February 28, 2016 against the Orlando Magic.  His performance on that evening was very solid. He scored 26 points, brought down three rebounds, and three assists.

So far in the 2016-2017 season, Okafor has not had a 20 point game.  While his knee is likely not quite 100 percent, the presence of Joel Embiid may have altered the team’s playbook.  In any case, Jahlil Okafor has not been the same player since the injury.

Dec 14, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) and forward Nerlens Noel (M) and forward Ben Simmons (R) during a timeout in the second half against the Toronto Raptors at Wells Fargo Center. The Toronto Raptors won 123.114. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

97

Nerlens Noel Calls Out Front Office

The Philadelphia 76ers had a narrow window to resolve the front office, and each direction required a different approach from the front office. The team may have met with each player, identified the challenge of making a suitable deal, and reassured all three that the team may need to compromise with playing time.

The team might have “gone for it” with a deal, knowing the NBA would be deeply discounting the value of the centers from a team that had little else going for it. Despite two centers on minutes restrictions and questions with all three, the team announced a deal was a priority.

Or the team might have stayed silent and let nature take it’s course.

Would you believe…?!

As it turned out, the team announced a desire to fix the log jam to the world, and did not share the plan to deal one of the three centers with the players themselves.  In fact, there was confusion as to which player might be dealt. And so, in his contract year, Nerlens Noel pointed out the obvious.

It was not the wisest move for a young man eager to position himself for his next NBA contract. By challenging the wisdom of his front office, a player whose priority is to deliver certainty just added a new random variable. And it’s that uncertainty which has complicated this situation.

Apr 5, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) warms up before action against the New Orleans Pelicans at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

96

Nerlens Noel Knee Surgery

Nerlens Noel entered the 2016-2017 season knowing that playing time would come at a premium. The most likely opportunity would be the opening of the year, while both Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor were on minutes restrictions. Rather than show up and handle the load, he opted for surgery on his knee.

Once more, it was a decision with plenty of room for second guessing.  Nerlens Noel needs playing time this year, and his most likely window of earning the lion’s share was opening the season. Instead, he became an unexpected scratch, which led to speculation about the motives.

That wasn’t there a second ago…

You see, everyone was caught off guard by the sudden “nope, can’t play” from Noel.

There is no doubt that Nerlens Noel suffered pain, and may need to “clean up” his knee several times throughout his professional NBA career. But the fact that the scratch was a surprise to the team speaks volumes. Add to that the term “Noel elected to have surgery”, and you’ve uncovered plenty of reasons to believe there is a possibility of negative undercurrents.

Nov 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jerryd Bayless (0) goes up for a shot during the second overtime quarter of the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Wells Fargo Center. The Memphis Grizzlies won 104-99 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

95

Jerryd Bayless Wrist Injury

In direct contrast to Nerlen Noel’s opting for knee surgery, guard Jerryd Bayless tried virtually all non-surgical options to help his left wrist. Unfortunately, in the end surgery was required.

Jerryd Bayless was the first free agent signed to the team, and signed to a three-year deal.  He was the ideal “glue”.  You see, he is a player who runs an NBA offense just as easily as he plays off the ball. But the topper is his ability to hit a long distance shot. The trey was a recent development, a one-year “blip” of 43.7 percent against a career average of 36 percent. But it was enough to entice interest from the 76ers.

Deja Vu

But similar to Carl Landry from the previous season, Bayless arrived as damaged goods.  His left wrist caused him excruciating pain, pain which prevented him from starting at point guard for the 76ers.

He tried everything: rest, therapy, PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatments, to no avail.  After a call to shut down and get the surgery by Keith Pompey,  Bayless acquiesced.  As it stands now, Jerryd Bayless was unable to make a go of it in 2016.

Jan 9, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) an forward Nerlens Noel (4) in a game against the Toronto Raptors at Wells Fargo Center. The Raptors won 108-95. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

94

Nerlens Noel Jahlil Okafor Incompatible

It would have been too easy in Philadelphia if the pairing of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor worked like a charm. Joel Embiid could not play in the 2015-2016 season, after discovering the need to undergo a second surgery.

So the Philadelphia 76ers did line up for the third pick of the 2015 NBA Draft.  Whether you believe it fortunate or unfortunate for the 76ers, this was twelve days after learning about Embiid’s foot. With the Los Angeles Lakers selecting point guard D’Angelo Russell, the Philadelphia 76ers found themselves choosing at three with a wide selection of choices.

BPA, Need, or Other

In the end, the Sixers chose the best possible candidate from the draft, but likely one of the least compatible prospects for the team. As you recall above, Nerlens Noel is an NBA rim-protecting center. But Jahlil Okafor plays great offense, in the post. It’s the need of both players to occupy the paint which causes the struggle of compatibility.

To be fair, Okafor was drafted as the best player at that time. However, there have been plenty of discussions of trading one or both of the big men. In fact, the Celtics claimed they had a major deal negotiated with a team at the 2016 trade deadline, but the other team pulled out.  That other team was believed to be the Philadelphia 76ers.

And so, the team is rotating three players in various combinations, trying to determine if any combo works.  If not, this will be Joel Embiid’s team exclusively.

Nov 17, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) looks on against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the 76ers 110-86. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

93

Jahlil Okafor Bad News Surfaces “clocked at 108”

When in rains, it pours. Or so it seemed when bad news began to surface about rookie center Jahlil Okafor. After news surfaced over an altercation between the Philadelphia 76ers star center and some unruly Boston Celtics fans in Boston, Okafor did not need more bad news. Still, it came anyways.

In this bit of unhappy tidings, the rookie was clocked going 108 in a 45 mph zone across the Ben Franklin Bridge in the wee hours. After following Okafor’s speeding vehicle for some time, the Delaware Port Authority office pulled him over. Okafor was issued a $439 fine.

As these antics became public, the Philadelphia 76ers were forced to suspend Okafor for two games. That is unfortunate, as Jahlil Okafor is a genuinely decent young man who simply tested the fences of his life in the NBA a tad too aggressively.

Dec 14, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) and forward Nerlens Noel (M) and forward Ben Simmons (R) during a timeout in the second half against the Toronto Raptors at Wells Fargo Center. The Toronto Raptors won 123.114. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

92

Philadelphia 76ers Limp into 2016-2017 season

After beginning the previous season with injured players, the last thing anyone wanted was to start 2016-2017 with injured players. But after Nerlens Noel’s knee surgery, Ben Simmons’ fractured foot, and Jerryd Bayless’ sore wrist, that is where the Philadelphia 76ers found themselves.

Injured again. This time 40 percent of the team’s starters.

I’m timing you…

This only complicated the teams situation, a situation which included rationing minutes for Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, and Gerald Henderson.

After a season opening with so many injured, the hope was to enter the 2016-2017 healthy. Somehow, the 76ers seemed to lose their way, and ended up in an almost identical situation for the second consecutive year. With the results of the previous season still fresh in everyone’s mind, the injuries to open this season hurt even more. Building the full roster requires a healthy roster.

Hopefully, the arrival of Ben Simmons later this season will put the team back on track.

Feb 14, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Shroder (17) dribbles the basketball during the 2015 NBA All Star Skills Challenge competition at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

91

Philadelphia 76ers “Almost” Complete Trade For Hawks Dennis Schroder

The Philadelphia 76ers needed a point guard as the 2015-2016 season drew to a close. They almost landed one, as the Philadelphia 76ers nearly worked out a deal for Atlanta Hawks’ point guard Dennis Schroder.

Per Philly.com’s Keith Pompey report, the Philadelphia 76ers were willing to offer up

 shooting guard Nik Stauskas, point guard Ish Smith, and a 2016 first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks for point guard Dennis Schroder, according to several league sources.- Keith Pompey

At the time of the proposed trade, the Atlanta Hawks were blessed with two starting caliber point guards: reserve Dennis Schroder and starter Jeff Teague. And while the teams did not manage to complete the deal, both teams agreed to revisit the likelihood after the season.

I’ll get back to you on this..

In the aftermath, Bryan Colangelo took over the helm for the Philadelphia 76ers. Jeff Teague was eventually traded in a three-team deal which netted 2016 12th pick Taurean Prince for the Hawks. The starting role fell to Schroder, who wasted no time claiming the team as his own. He has started all 34 games for the Hawks, averaging 17.5 points, 6.3 assists, and 2.9 rebound per 31.1 minutes of game play.

The offer to the Hawks may have included the top-three protected pick of the Lakers, but that is unlikely. With so many players included in the package, the likely pick would have been the 24 pick. Despite the oh-so-close nature of this trade, it did not happen.  Much like the Boston Celtic’s rumors, it was as though Hinkie could negotiate the deal, but couldn’t get it past his supervisor.

That supervisor was Jerry Colangelo.

Dec 7, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers owner Joshua Harris (L) introduces Jerry Colangelo (R) as special advisor before a game against the San Antonio Spurs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

90

Jerry Colangelo Becomes Special Advisor to Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers were a team on a long term plan, but with immediate needs.  As admirable as Sam Hinkie was on draft day, he was not exactly noted for handing a complete and complimentary roster over to head coach Brett Brown on opening day.

But it was the off-court issues of rookie center Jahlil Okafor which forced the team into action. After a TMZ report of a skirmish between Jahlil Okafor with fans of the Boston Celtics surfaced, more news bubbled to the surface as well. Speeding. A second skirmish. And the team had nothing “built in” to prevent events recurring. And so, ownership went outside the box and brought in the services of venerable Jerry Colangelo.

Hey JC, JC, please explain to me?

Jerry Colangelo had the unique perspective of seeing events through the eyes of a coach, a general manager, and an owner. You see, he served in the capacity of each role in his tenure with the Phoenix Suns. Jerry Colangelo made some immediate changes to the team. He persuaded his former Phoenix Suns coach, Mike D’Antoni, to join the Philadelphia 76ers as an assistant head coach. He also encouraged the team to trade for a point guard, which the team did at the close of 2015 in bringing back point guard Ish Smith.

But Jerry Colangelo had more on his plate than just tweaking the team. On at least two occasions, the Philadelphia 76ers were in deep trade discusions. On one hand, the team negotiated a deal with the Atlanta Hawks for Dennis Schroder. On the other hand, a “mystery” team had gotten to the point of pulling the trigger on a mega deal with the Boston Celtics as well.

In both cases, the presumed “other” team was the Philadelphia 76ers. At the time neither trade occured, Jerry Colangelo had veto power over any move Sam Hinkie might make.

Dec 11, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard T.J. McConnell (12) drives past Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Pistons won107-95. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

89

TJ McConnell Nearly Scores Triple Double

If there is one thing everyone should know about point guard T.J. McConnell, it’s don’t count him out. He was the undrafted but spirited competitor who earned a spot on the 2015-2016 roster, over such players a Pierre Jackson and Scott Wilberkin,

It was McConnell’s spunk… the fiesty attitude of someone who is relentless, who keeps coming back for more. It was that “never say die” attitude which served McConnell so well as he was thrust from playing behind guard Isaiah Canaan to a full starting role. Even when he did not start, he played and played hard.

Energizer Bunny

It was McConnell who played all but one game in the entire 2015-2016 season. With the arrival of back court veterans of Jerryd Bayless, Sergio Rodriguez and the intent to evolve Ben Simmons into a point guard, many expected McConnell to be phased out.

Instead, he continues to contribute each game. So far, only McConnell and Saric have appeared in each game. While that hasn’t led to 20 points per game yet, it did lead to a great night against the Detroit Pistons.

On the night without Sergio Rodriguez (flu), McConnell stepped up in a huge way. He was incredibly efficient with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists, to help lead the team to a victory over the Detroit Pistons. It was a clutch performance by a gutsy player.

Apr 5, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Carl Landry (7) reacts to his three pointer against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 107-93. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

88

Carl Landry 20 minutes helps 76ers to 4th win of season

Power Forward Carl Landry didn’t ask to come to the Philadelphia 76ers.  In fact, his arrival seemed to hinge on the desire of the Sacramento Kings to unload player salaries, lots of player salaries.

But as a true professional, he made the best of the situation. He interviewed well, said all the right things, and played a role needed by the team. The only thing he did not do is show up… at least, not until the end of December.  But there may have been a method to the madness of allowing him to rehab so long.

Landry took 22 minutes of playing time, and converted that into 16 points on 8 of 11 shots, plus four rebounds, one assist, and one block. It was the type of performance few expected, but it certainly hammered home the point to each rookie and second year player to remain prepared for each game.

Nov 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Dario Saric (9) looks to get the ball past Indiana Pacers forward Thaddeus Young (21) during the third quarter of the game at the Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 109-105 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

87

Dario Saric Lands First NBA Double Double

The Philadelphia 76ers have been eager to see just what the “Croation Sensation” Dario Saric could do in a Sixers jersey. It didn’t take long to find out, as Saric recorded his first NBA double double in just his seventh game.

The game was the first of a two-game mini series, the first at Indiana to face the Pacers.  While the 76ers lost the contest, it was not due to lack of effort from Saric. He scored 14 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, dished off three assists, and blocked two.

Building on that performance, the Philadelphia 76ers were able to return home and claim their first win of the 2016-2017 season when the teams faced off again 48 hours later in Philadelphia.

So far, Saric has had four double doubles. But it was that first showing that seemed to ignite the team.

Nov 2, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie (far left) watches as center Joel Embiid (21) walks out of the tunnel on crutches prior to a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

86

Joel Embiid Visits Aspetar Clinic 2nd Time

The Philadelphia 76ers have not gotten much press about the quality of their organization. But when success finds the team, the stories about the quality of the organization will soon follow suit.

The quality should have made the headlines when the team sent Joel Embiid to Aspetar clinic for the second time. It was not a regression or tweak. Rather, it was an opportunity to send the Sixers entourage to Doha, Qatar.

Second Verse

On his first visit, Joel Embiid was given an entirely new regiment of exercises, stress monitors, and reeducation.  But ultimately, he was measured, tracked, and plotted. In the second visit, all of the data was brought together as an individual treatment plan to heal 7-foot-2 Embiid.

With the 76ers staff along, that plan would follow Embiid back to the USA, and back to the NBA.  In fact, techniques learned would be incorporated into the rehab of other players too.  Two years was a long time to wait. But the Philadelphia 76ers made certain it was worth it.

Mar 1, 2016; Villanova, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Jahlil Okafor watches game between Villanova Wildcats and DePaul Blue Demons during the second half at The Pavilion. Villanova defeated DePaul, 83-62. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

85

Jahlil Okafor Boston Incident

Jahlil Okafor was a young man with the burden of an entire team placed upon him.  It was not anything that a 19-year-old could prepare for. One minute he was atop the world, having just been made a millionaire by signing a contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The next moment, he was a starting center for the team, and the team struggled to win any game.

That plunge from elation to disappointment set Okafor onto a bad path. That path led to Boston, where the young man paired up with teammate Christian Wood to enjoy a post game outing.

Repercussion

Unfortunately, Boston Celtics fans had the same idea, and there has never been any love lost between the two basketball organizations.

It was early in the 2015-2016 season, but the incident had long term repercussions for the team, well into 2016. Some believe it was this moment of poor judgement which set ownership against the direction the team was taking. While it may not have been THE cause, it certainly contributed to the outcome.  Eventually a second incident surfaced, and Okafor was suspended for two games.

Nov 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) reacts after scoring against the Miami Heat during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 101-94. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

84

Joel Embiid Visits Aspetar Clinic

The Philadelphia 76ers showed complete faith in the future of the team in Joel Embiid when the team shipped the rehabbing center to Qatar’s Aspetar Clinic. At the time, Joel Embiid was just getting to the point of beginning to retrain his body for NBA play once more.

But rather than repeat a process that may land Embiid back at the starting block, the Philadelphia 76ers shipped him to Aspetar Clinic in Dohar, Qatar.  Once there, specialists used the same technology used to create lifelike video games to record motion speed and stress on Embiid’s body, especially the foot, in order to design an optimal rehabilitation and training regiment.

More Than Rehab

Following the first visit, Embiid would return home to Philadelphia to follow specific exercises and training practices. After that, he would return to Aspetar to receive the complete care plan.

Aspetar is more than a treatment facility. It’s the world renowned center for preventative medicine.  It was the best possible treatment site for the player who would ultimately define the risk taking long range strategy of the Philadelphia 76ers.  In the end, the Philadelphia 76ers did everything possible to ensure Joel Embiid would enjoy a long NBA career.

Mar 9, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Team USA general manager Jerry Colangelo during a press conference at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at the Beverly Hilton. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

83

Jerry Colangelo says goal is create winning culture

From the moment he arrived to the Philadelphia 76es in the 2015-2016 season, Jerry Colangelo was an enigma. He did not land in a conventional position with the team. In fact, the owners’ created a special role for him, Chairman of Basketball Operations. That is a huge title, but one so vague that his true role with the team was not easily deciphered.

In whatever capacity Jerry Colangelo was brought to the Philadelphia 76ers, there is no denying that part of the intent was to create a public persona who would become the face of the organization.

Jerry Colangelo delivered that, and then some.

Like Father Like Son

When father handed the reigns to his son, Bryan Colangelo, the theme of “winning culture” became the mission statement for the front office:

But will winning come as a result of the claim to become a “winning culture”? Or does a winning culture spring out of winning, which has already been set into place by moves from the previous executive? In the end, it comes down to a chicken or the egg argument.

The fans, the NBA, the players, and the owners needed to hear positives about the team. In the end, that is what Jerry Colangelo delivered.

Dec 30, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) controls the ball in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The 76ers won 124-122. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

82

Joel Embiid Lands His First Double Double

Some things take time. But Joel Embiid’s first double double is not one of them. In fact, the young man only needed his third NBA game to accomplish the feat.

The biggest challenge facing Joel Embiid’s arrival to the Philadelphia 76ers was the fact that a two-year wait allowed expectations to balloon without pause.  A young man, with nearly a full season of NCAA basketball experience, had become a celebrity of the NBA by workout videos.

Fortunately, he delivered. In scoring 20 points in his first game, Embiid established himself as an offensive force.  On his third outing, he truly began to hint at what his potential in the NBA might accomplish.  Against the Orlando Magic, Embiid scored 18 points, brought down 10 rebounds, dished off three assists and rejected four blocked shots.

The 76ers would lose the game 103-10.  But Joel Embiid proved that he was deserving of the hype.

Feb 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Kendall Marshall (5) dribbles against the Orlando Magic at Wells Fargo Center. The Orlando Magic won 124-115. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

81

Okafor and Marshall’s Fathers Rant against team

The NBA is a tough business. Players need playing time. Coaches need wins and to develop players. Sometimes the goals do not align, and then people react.

While some parents take it out in stands, others elect the social media forum solely to express themselves.  And that is where things become dicey.

Players who struggle will be called out.  Philadelphia is notorious for that.  It’s a well-paid sport, and fans want players to earn that money.  As a proud parent, that can trigger protective instincts.

Two parents had plenty to say to head coach Brett Brown over the playing time of their sons: Chukwudi Okafor and Dennis Marshall. In the end, the player determines their own playing time by producing when they take the basketball court.

Dec 29, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Sergio Rodriguez (14) drives to the basket during the second quarter against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

80

Sergio Rodriguez Signed

Bryan Colangelo does not hesitate to sign international players to an NBA Roster. And so, he sought and signed point guard Sergio Rodriguez from Euroleague’s Real Madrid.

“Sergio Rodriguez is another experienced and solid professional that we are happy to bring back to the NBA and to Philadelphia. Sergio has competed against the world’s best point guards at both the international and NBA level, and he has proven to be a great floor leader and decision maker while finding much team success throughout his career.”-Bryan Colangelo

Initially thought to be an insurance policy, the team needed to cash the insurance in when both Ben Simmons and Jerryd Bayless were unable to begin the season. That placed the team into the hands of point guard Sergio Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was a curious signing. Originally an NBA player, he played four seasons before signing on with Real Madrid.  In Europe, he matured and became one of the better point guards in the league.

He still had a longing to play in the NBA, and was happy to sign a one-year $8 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.  In the early part of the season, he has demonstrated great passing skills, while growing as a scoring threat.

Apr 5, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Carl Landry (7) reacts to his three pointer against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 107-93. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

79

Philadelphia Wins Tenth Game 2015-2016 Season

The Philadelphia 76ers were on track to win just nine games of the 2015-2016 season. But it was the heroics of power forward Carl Landry’s 22 points against the New Orleans Pelicans which prevented the team from tying their own worst franchise record.

“We didn’t want to be a part of that,” Landry said. “We tried to do whatever it took to lock in, in practice, in film sessions and just have a carryover to each and every game.”

While the win was only the tenth win of the season, it was a particularly sweet victory. The team had lost top scorer Jahlil Okafor for the season, and the team did not have Joel Embiid for the entire season.

In fact, the team played only ten players in the night, and was led by the offensive outburst of Landry.  It would be the team’s final victory on the basketball court that season.

Jan 9, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard JaKarr Sampson (9) shoots against the Toronto Raptors at Wells Fargo Center. The Raptors won 108-95. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

78

Philadelphia Waives Jakarr Sampson to clear way for Joel Anthony, but deal falls through

Guard Jakarr Sampson was tall, enthusiastic, and quite versatile. In fact, he was a favorite of head coach Brett Brown due to his enthusiastic positive approach and versatility.

In the weeks leading up to the 2016 NBA Draft, the experience of the team with Samspon allowed the team to project a means to make use of Ben Simmons’ skills on the team.

Unfortunately, the player did not survive the journey. Near the 2016 NBA trade deadline, the Philadelphia 76ers agreed to a deal, in kind, to take on the contract of Houston Rockets center Joel Anthony.  In return, the 76ers would receive a 2017 second round draft pick as compensation.

Unfortunately, the deal involved the Detroit Pistons. In order to participate, the Philadelphia 76ers needed to waive a player to make room for Anthony. But the deal also required a trade of Donatas Motiejunas to the Pistons for the Pistons 2nd round pick.

The deal was voided. But in the meantime, the 76ers had cut Sampson who was immediately signed by the Denver Nuggets.

Apr 2, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Isaiah Canaan (0) reacts behind Indiana Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey (2) after his three point shot during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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Canaan’s three-point field goal total from this past campaign ranked fourth on the Sixers’ all-time list.

Isaiah Canaan, “Canaanball”, was a niche basketball player who never found his niche in Philadelphia. Oh but he loved to shoot the three-pointers. And surprisingly,the three-pointer seemed to adore him a little as well.

Isaiah Canaan was never short of heart, but he was just a 6-foot-0 guard. His skillset was that of a shooting guard, but his stature was that of a point guard.  And so, he became a challenge to his head coach to find the proper role.

Ultimately, when point guard Ish Smith arrived, Canaan was relegated to a reserve role at shooting guard. There, he became the three-point specialist, coming in to fire long range artillery. He shot 485 shots from three-point range, and scored on 176 attempts.  His 176 three pointers in a single season propelled “Canaanball” into the team’s record books, to land him fourth on three points made.

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Houston Rockets sign 76ers assistant head coach Mike D’Antoni as head coach

Despite less than a season’s employ as Philadelphia 76ers assistant head coach, Mike D’Antoni was quickly poached by the Houston Rockets.

Mike D’Antoni came to the Philadelphia 76ers via the relationship he had with special advisor Jerry Colangelo.   Head coach Brett Brown was handed a roster in dire need of development, as well as pitted with injuries.

In short, there was more mission than troops.

And so, D’Antoni arrived and in a fashion of NFL coaching roles, he assumed the offense responsibilities.  The team immediately responded, climbing off an NFL worst offense to end up 29th in the NBA.

While the team only won ten games, the willingness of D’Antoni served his interests well in the NBA.  He was brought in to interview for the vacant head coaching position of the Houston Rockets.

In Parts II through IV, we will continue our journey through 2016.  While it’s an exciting future awaiting the team around the corner, there is plenty of lessons to be learned by taking one last look in the rear view mirror.

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