Conventional wisdom says that the Philadelphia 76ers will be the worst team in the league this season. The roster features a dearth of NBA-level talent, the front office appears unconcerned with winning games, and everyone seems to have accepted that the primary goal of the season is to earn the top pick in June's draft. It will be a minor accomplishment if they don't finish with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.
Nevertheless, the Sixers are still a professional basketball team and must be ranked and rated just like any other. That includes receiving odds on winning the title from Las Vegas oddmakers. Except, this season, the Sixers appear to have broken the usual formula. From Tim Dahlberg for the Associated Press (via Next Impulse Sports):
As the NBA season tips off, the over-under for total wins for the 76ers this year is 16.5, the lowest of any team and the lowest that LVH sports book oddsmaker Jeff Sherman can remember putting up on any NBA team in the last decade or so.
That means optimistic Philly fans — assuming there are any for a team with only a handful of legitimate NBA players — can win money if they bet their team can win 17 games or more in the 82-game regular season. Conversely, those who think the 76ers are even worse than they look can cash in if the season win total is 16 or fewer. [...]
It gets even better for true believers. They can get astronomical odds of 9,999-1 if they want to wager at the LVH on the 76ers winning the NBA title.
"It was the highest number our computers would let us put in," [oddsmaker Jeff] Sherman said.
There you have it: the Sixers are at the upper bound of potential NBA championship odds. It's as if the oddsmakers were really saying that their odds were infinite but couldn't risk having to pay a bettor forever and ever in case they somehow capture the Larry O'Brien Trophy. How would that even work, in a physical sense?
In a way, this news isn't that surprising, but it does provide a quantitative example of just how bad the Sixers are expected to be. Really, though, it's going to be just the first such stat this season. As the Sixers go about playing their 82-game schedule, we'll receive all the computational feedback we could ever want about their weaknesses and general ineptitude.
Enjoy the season, Philly fans!
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