TALKING ABOUT some of the positives surrounding the 76ers lately is like trying to convince the locals that good weather is really right around the corner.
But there have been some signs, some things that coach Brett Brown and general manager Sam Hinkie can look forward to. So now that the 26-game losing streak has come to a merciful end, due to Saturday's 123-98 drubbing of the hapless Detroit Pistons, let's take a look at some of the good points.
* Henry Sims is proving to be one of those players that Brown has labeled a "keeper" over the past few weeks. Thrust into the starting lineup in just his second game after arriving from Cleveland in the Spencer Hawes trade, the 6-10 center has done nothing but please over the past several games. In his past 10 games he has averaged 12.1 points and 8.4 rebounds. Also, over the past five games he has averaged 15.6 points.
Is Sims one of the answers to the future turnaround for this team? Of course not. But he is proving to be a very nice piece who can provide hard minutes in the middle. He has shown some offensive skill of late around the basket and is one of the team's best players at finding a loose ball around the basket. He most likely has played himself onto the roster for Brown next season.
* One of the many areas that was a concern for Brown during the 26-game drought was that his team was getting absolutely crushed on the boards. So to battle against that, he asked his big guards, particularly 6-6 Michael Carter-Williams and 6-5 Tony Wroten, to crash the defensive glass not only to step up in a deficient area but also to have the opportunity to start the fastbreak as soon as they grab a rebound.
"We asked our big guards to go in and rebound and they've done a good job of that," Brown said. "That helps us in a lot of ways."
In five of the past 14 games MCW has grabbed 11 or more rebounds and has averaged 8.6 boards during that span.
* While he may always be a shoot-first guard, Wroten has been looking more for his teammates of late. He led the team with nine assists on Saturday, his first game back after missing three with a sprained ankle. There is no question that Wroten has the ability to pass the ball and he sees the floor very well. The problem is that he often looks to make the spectacular pass instead of the obvious and easy one. His explosiveness to the basket is undeniable. Once he learns the balance between when to go to the hole and when to make the pass (provided there are good shooters to feed), he will be an even more valuable weapon for Brown. Saturday's win was a perfect example of what an under-control Wroten can be, as he shot just six times in his 21 minutes, but he did deal the nine feeds, to go with six rebounds and only one turnover.
* It can't be stated enough - and probably hasn't been - what a professional Thaddeus Young has been during this debacle of a season. While the losses have mounted, Young's intensity has never waned. He has been the perfect role model for this young team, particularly for MCW and Wroten, who will probably be here during the growing pains that will certainly surround this team for at least next season, and perhaps for a few more after that.
"I don't know what's going to happen at the end of the season, we'll just have to wait and see," said Young recently. "But at the end of the day they showed me respect by keeping me here and asking me to be the leader of this young team. That means a lot. I don't know what the future holds, but right now my job is to be the player that leads by example and I'm always going to do that, no matter what the circumstances are."