TORONTO - It is getting very close to the first third of the season in coach Brett Brown's season calendar, as he breaks it down from the beginning of the season to Christmas, Christmas to the All-Star break and from after the break to the end of the season. When Christmas comes his team will have played 31 games and may still just have the lone win they picked up against the Lakers at home back on the first day of December.
Those 31 games, for the most part, will be almost a complete waste of time as far seeing this process moving forward, however. Yes, it is advantageous for the coach to watch how prized rooked Jahlil Okafor adapts to life in the NBA and to also measure the improvement of Nerlens Noel in his second season of playing. But the bigger issue with those two is how they learn to play together, and Brown hasn't been able to truly assess that yet as his starting point guard, Kendall Marshall, is just now returing to the floor after tearing his ACL nearly a year ago. Certainly Brown is judging how much the likes of Robert Covington and Jerami Grant and Richaun Holmes may be able to help this program moving forward, but will these players turn out to be much more than role players when/if the team fills the roster with the talent they hope will compete for championships?
We all get the losing, with Ben Simmons all the talk on the college basketball circuit. Aand the horrific start by the Sixers certainly puts them in a position to perhaps land the LSU star. But to really get a guage on who may be around for the Sixers moving forward, it really might not become any more clear until Brown's final two-thirds of the season, or final 51 games.
Whether Marshall is the lead guard the team sees moving forward or just a fill-in until they draft for that position could be answered as the season plays out. With his pass-first style and ability to run pick and rolls and get players the ball where they need and want it, the ability of Okafor and Noel to play together should get more clear. With Tony Wroten close to returning to full health it will be seen whether he is a legitimate go-to guy for this team or, in the future, a huge jolt off the bench who can ignite an offense with his scoring ability.
And don't be surprised that, at some point, if Brown experiments with moving Okafor to the power forward spot in order to see how he may play there in anticipation of Joel Embiid being healthy next year. Brown appears to be leaning that way more and more as he keeps mentioning the four-spot skills of the rookie from Duke.
The losing, most likely, will continue at a dizzying rate. But after Christmas, the foggy future may start becoming a little bit more clear. It most likely won't translate into winning, but you have to look past that. It really is about evaluating the individuals and who may fit where when the organization really puts winning as a top priority, which should be next season.