Experts Agree: The Sixers Are Gonna Be the Absolute Worst Next Season

Experts Agree: The Sixers Are Gonna Be the Absolute Worst Next Season

Well, we traded our only reliable offensive creator, we drafted a guy who might not play at all next year, and we still don't have coach. Aside from that, things are looking bright for the Philadelphia 76ers--seriously, we got all them prospects and draft picks and cap space and whatnot--but obviously, winning games next year does not appear to be a top priority. Indeed, a whole lot of people think that they just might end up winning fewer games than any other team next season.

This includes Bill Simmons of Grantland, who today evaluated the Sixers as the best bet (+120) to win the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes (a.k.a. "Riggin' for Wiggins") in next year's draft lottery. Simbo writes:

Philly (+120): They're cruising a few million under the league's salary floor,11 with no real interest in signing anyone else. (They didn't even halfheartedly pursue Pekovic.) They haven't hired a coach yet. Their offense revolves around Evan Turner and Thad Young. They're bringing in two lottery picks from the worst draft in 13 years — one (Noel) is recovering from major knee surgery, the other (Michael Carter-Williams) can't shoot and might not even be a point guard. And their organization seems totally fine with sucking as flagrantly as possible. This is gonna be tough to beat, folks.

You know what the last piece of the Riggin' for Wiggins puzzle is for the Sixers? I have four words for you: that's right, "Head coach Allen Iverson."

Very original on that last point, Bill.

Simmons isn't the only one who seems to think the Sixers are headed for the cellar in '13-'14. The SB Nation NBA blogger community recently assembled their aggregate Power Rankings going into the next season, with the Heat a unanimous choice for #1, and the Sixers a not-quite-unanimous-but-pretty-close choice for #30. (The average ranking among the 22 bloggers was a 29.7, and no one had them listed higher than 27.) Jason Patt, who assembled the rankings, sympathizes:

And finally, those poor Sixers. It's going to be a rough go for them next year, although that's pretty much the plan. If the Basketball Gods have any mercy, Philadelphia wins the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes in exchange for dealing with the Bynum nightmare.

That would be a start, sure. In the meantime, though, get ready for more L's than a full Tetris screen next season. You heard it everywhere first.

Rays 7, Phillies 2: Mackanin calls Eickhoff 'a pretty darn good pitcher'

Rays 7, Phillies 2: Mackanin calls Eickhoff 'a pretty darn good pitcher'

BOX SCORE

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff pitched two innings, allowed a hit, a run, walked one and struck out two in his spring debut on Monday.

Afterward, manager Pete Mackanin was asked what he believed Eickhoff’s ceiling was.

"He's a pretty darn good pitcher right now,” Mackanin said.

Indeed, he is.

In his first full season in the majors last year, the 26-year-old right-hander led the Phillies’ starting staff in ERA (3.65), starts (33) and innings pitched (197 1/3).

He delivered 20 quality starts and became just the fourth Phillie in the last 20 years to make 33 starts and record a 3.65 ERA or better, joining three pretty good pitchers named Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Curt Schilling. He walked just 1.92 batters per nine innings and that was fourth-best among NL starters.

“Eickhoff is the kind of guy you can count on,” Mackanin said. “He throws strikes. He knows what he’s doing.”

Eickhoff is intent on building on last year’s success in 2017. The guy has a Halladay-like work ethic. He arrived in Clearwater on February 1 and got right to work. After his two innings of work on Monday, he put in a couple of hours in the weight room and on a back field running.

“I just have to continue working,” he said. “I have a very high standard for myself as a lot of us in here do. We want to be the best players that we can be.”

Eickhoff is working on improving his changeup this spring and his overall goal is to make every start — as he did last season.

“That’s the priority — make every start,” he said. “That’s always a priority for me.

“I’d also like to incorporate the changeup a little more and use my slider and curveball and not get heavily reliant on one or the other, which happened several times last year and I think got me into trouble at times. So incorporating both for the duration of the season and just being more crisp with execution and location is my goal.

“I’m always looking to get better. I think the sky is the limit. I’m going to continue working, whether it’s being Greg Maddux-esque with command or having a good breaking ball, or throwing a changeup like Maddux and guys like that did. There’s always something I’m working on and trying to develop and sharpen up.”

Eickhoff lines up to start the second game of the regular season behind projected opening day starter Jeremy Hellickson.

The game
The Phillies lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-2. The Phils are 2-2 on the spring.

Maikel Franco had two hits, including his third homer of the spring. It was a long drive to left field on a 1-2 fastball. He also had a single to right field.

“The thing I like early in the spring from him is he’s going deeper into counts,” Mackanin said. “I think he’s working toward a good year this year.”

Stassi impresses
Non-roster player Brock Stassi, a candidate to win a job as a reserve first baseman and outfielder, did not play in the game. He, however, has a single, double and homer in the first three games.

Mackanin gushed about Stassi’s defense when asked about it Monday.

“He’s one of the best first basemen I’ve seen in a real long time,” Mackanin said. “He has no need to improve on his defense and I like the way he swings the bat. He’s a real solid baseball player so he’s a guy I really want to get a good look at.”

Pitching matters
Starting pitchers Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin are both projected to pitch at Triple A. Both have been slowed early in camp because of health reasons, but are progressing well. Thompson has a sore right wrist and Eflin is recovering from a pair of surgeries to address tendinitis in both knees.

Both pitchers will continue to throw in the bullpen this week and ramp up to live batting practice next week. There is plenty of time for both pitchers to get their arms ready to open the season. However, the Phillies may decide to take a cautious approach with Eflin and let him build some more strength in his knees before they turn him loose. He could stay in Florida for a couple of extra weeks before joining the Triple A club.

Up next
The Phillies host the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. Clay Buchholz will make his first start of the spring. Here is the Phillies’ posted starting lineup for the game:

1. Freddy Galvis SS
2. Howie Kendrick LF
3. Odubel Herrera CF
4. Maikel Franco 3B
5. Michael Saunders DH
6. Tommy Joseph 1B
7. Chris Coghlan RF
8. Cameron Rupp C
9. Scott Kingery 2B

Sixers waive big man Andrew Bogut

Sixers waive big man Andrew Bogut

To no surprise, Andrew Bogut is not part of the process.

The veteran big man, acquired in the Nerlens Noel trade last week, was waived by the Sixers on Monday night.

The Vertical's Shams Charania and ESPN's Marc Stein first reported the news of both parties agreeing to a contract buyout.

Bogut was included in the Sixers-Mavericks deal that sent Noel to Dallas in exchange for the 32-year-old center, Justin Anderson and a top-18 protected first-round pick (which will likely turn into two second-round picks).

Bogut will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Per a report Sunday by ESPN's Tim MacMahon, Bogut was set on joining Clevelend once a contract buyout with the Sixers was finalized. Bogut will have discussions with the Cavaliers, Spurs, Celtics and Rockets before making his decision, according to Stein's report.

Bogut played 26 games for the Mavericks this season, averaging 3.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.