BDL 25: Will the 76ers even resemble a basketball team this season?

BDL 25: Will the 76ers even resemble a basketball team this season?

The NBA offseason has brought many changes to rosters, coaching staffs and the list of championship contenders. As we draw closer to opening night, it's time to move our focus from the potential impact of each offseason event and onto the broader issues that figure to define this season. The BDL 25 takes stock of, uh, 25 key storylines to get you up to speed on where the most fascinating teams, players and people stand on the brink of 2015-16.

Eight of the 20 players pictured on the Philadelphia 76ers’ official roster page are actually wearing Sixers uniforms. Four are wearing their former team’s uniform, one guy is wearing a suit, and seven don’t even have a photo on file.

That’s not exactly rare for most NBA teams, as they litter their roster with camp invitees who might not be long for this league. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see the same sort of setup midseason with this squad — totally new names, old photos … or no photos at all.

The 76ers haven’t been photographable since general manager Sam Hinkie blew up the team on draft night, 2013. That night, he dealt Jrue Holiday, a former All-Star, for the sixth pick in that year’s draft and what was certain to be a solid lottery pick the next year. With that No. 6 pick, Philly selected a player in Nerlens Noel who had recently torn his ACL. At the time, it seemed like a knockout rebuilding move — you deal that star you don’t need and take a chance on someone who was considered the top talent in the draft, even after he tore his knee ligament. Tank the year, bring Noel back to get him up to NBA shape late in the season, and dive into the 2014 draft with two high picks.

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On top of that, Philly’s own pick, late lottery selection Michael Carter-Williams, even won Rookie of the Year. So, look at all these assets! Two picks this year, two great picks next year, cap space: there’s your core. Let’s do 2014-15 right.

Still, Noel sat in 2013-14. Like, the whole year. And at the 2014 draft, the team not only traded down with the Orlando Magic to secure a prospect (Dario Saric) who might not come stateside until 2016, they again drafted an injured big man in Joel Embiid with a similar skill set to Noel — who, again, had yet to play at this point. Embiid sat all of 2014-15, all of last season, and it is questionable, 17 months later, as to whether or not he will even be healthy enough to make his NBA debut 30 months after he was drafted. The Sixers then did nothing in free agency.

The team traded Carter-Williams for a future first-rounder before the 2014-15 trade deadline. Then, after another terrible season and outfitted with the second overall pick, Philly chose yet another big man in Jahlil Okafor — he's the one wearing a suit in his picture — with the top overall selection. They also bought out and waived their highest-paid player — Javale McGee, traded and paid for in order to collect a middling first-round pick along the way — and, again, did nothing in free agency.

Well …

So, once again, the load gets pushed back. Now, we look to the summer of 2016 for signs of anything resulting from what started in the summer of 2013, while Sixers fans stare down another nine months of misery until next year’s free-agency turn starts.

And what will Philly have, entering that offseason?

Noel, hopefully coming off of a much improved second season.

Okafor, hopefully having proven that his low-post scoring game can translate to this level.

Saric, as a rookie with a lot to learn about this pro game.

Probably the Los Angeles Lakers’ lottery pick, provided the Lakers don’t fall on even harder times in 2015-16.

Their own high lottery pick, because they will most assuredly be awful this year.

Probably the Miami Heat’s middling-at-best first-round pick.

Probably the Oklahoma City Thunder’s middling-at-best first-round pick.

Cap space!

The team could also have a recovered Embiid, though it’s important to note what Hinkie said about his top 2014 pick during training camp:

Joel Embiid was back in Philly today after attending yesterday’s practice. The injured center still has a cast on his right leg and can’t do much rehab at all because of it.

“The things he can do, which are limited — nutrition, medication, sleep, staying off it, and all of that — that’s been really good,” Hinkie said.

“Sleep.” He said “sleep.”

So that’s five or maybe six (depending on how much rest Embiid gets this year) high-end prospects, plus two more picks, and some cap space, and that’s a good start, right?

(After three years of this crap, it better be.)

Really, the real question should be whether or not the Philadelphia 76ers will field an actual team in 2016-17, instead of this season. Because they most certainly will not in 2015-16.

Noel and Okafor would seem to be a perfect pair, filling the bumps in one’s head with the bruises in another’s, but they still have quite a bit to work on. The lottery could be cruel, and Hinkie might not make it through the season without firing ahead and rolling over for more assets in coming years; the Sixers could get an unprotected first-round pick from the Sacramento Kings in 2019 and 10 second-round selections from various teams between 2016 and 2021.

Hinkie has basically taken all the shouts that us basketball wonks had been screaming at teams during the 1990s and early aughts — DON’T EMBRACE MEDIOCRITY, DRAFT THE BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE AND FIGURE THE REST OUT LATER, DON’T TRUST A PLAYER PUTTING UP BAD STATS ON YOUR BASKETBALL TEAM, BOTTOM OUT AND START OVER — and taken it to a ridiculous extreme.

It’s fascinating. Mostly because we’re not 76ers fans.

Previously, on BDL 25:

Kevin Durant is back to score at will and dominate headlines

What the heck will the Dallas Mavericks even look like?

Paul George tries to reclaim stardom and Indiana's contender status

Will DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings even make it to January?

Can the Golden State Warriors be that perfect again?

Are the Cleveland Cavaliers going to price themselves into oblivion?

The Grizzlies know exactly who they are, and that might be enough

Kevin Garnett's last run

Are the Knicks building something or just biding time before a blow-up?

Paul Pierce, journeyman

Russell Westbrook searches for an encore to an overwhelming season

Can the Atlanta Hawks do *that* again?

Kobe Bryant takes on what could be the last of his many battles

The rise of Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz

Just how *excellent* are these Miami Heat, anyhow?

Is Dwight Howard still a superstar?

The fun, probably still terrible, Timberwolves

Will Kevin Love 'fit in' better in Year 2 in Cleveland?

Is DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul's relationship built to last?

Anthony Davis, nascent destroyer of worlds

How, exactly, will LaMarcus Aldridge fit in with the Spurs?

The rise of Brad Stevens and his starless Celtics

The perpetually aching Chicago Bulls

Greg Monroe’s arrival, Jabari Parker’s return, and the weird, wild Bucks

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Kelly Dwyer

is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!