Together we build. It's the Sixers marketing slogan as they prepare for a brighter future that includes a healthy Nerlens Noel, a Michael Carter-Williams that will only get better with time and, hopefully, two first-round draft choices this spring.
But, right now, it's January, and the Sixers are only 37 games into an 82-game schedule with 12 wins and 25 losses.
Saturday night, the Sixers lost their fourth straight game when they fell, 102-92, to the New York Knicks. A second quarter in which they were outscored by 20 points ultimately led to their defeat, but the Sixers' lack of depth was apparent, too, as it is on many nights.
The Sixers' bench was outscored, 50-20, by the Knicks' reserves. The Sixers' subs average 27.5 points in 15.8 minutes -- both statistics rank 21st in a 30-team league. That said, the Sixers are the 12th-highest scoring team in the NBA, with 102.5 points per game.
Clearly their starters do the heavy lifting when it comes to scoring.
“Look at the age and the resumes of our bench, and let's just start there. That is not an insult, it is just the truth. We are grooming,” head coach Brett Brown said. “We have inexperienced players, and we are trying to identify them and polish up and keep players. Apply resume and experience and payroll to our bench and you can see that it is always a challenge.”
Four players -- Tony Wroten, Hollis Thompson, Brandon Davies, and Elliot Williams -- saw time in a reserve role for Brown Saturday night. They played a combined 49 minutes. The Knicks reserves played a total of 72 minutes, and when you do apply payroll to the two groups the numbers are drastically different.
The Knicks' bench earns a combined salary of $30.4 million. Amar’e Stoudemire’s salary (almost $22 million) this season certainly has a huge impact on that number. Still, the Sixers' reserves that were available for Brown Saturday night make a combined $2.9 million.
And then when you consider that the average age of those four Sixers reserves is 22 years old with a combined two years of NBA experience, you begin to understand the hand Brown has been dealt.
And still, he does not complain.
“I love it. They are good people," Brown said, referring to his backups. "[They're] good players and we are trying to create opportunities and help develop them, so there is a partnership that I am with them on. But at times there is a drought when you start to sub, and that is part of young players trying to forge a role in the NBA.”
“I have confidence that our bench will do two things. We ask them to play with an amazing energy and a tenacity, where they fly around defensively. And then I ask them to take off and run. Perfect execution, perfect shot selection, perfect ability to shoot high-percentage shots from outside the three-point range -- at this stage, that is not them. So they need to dump what they have into energy, defensive kamikaze stuff, and offensive pace.”
The Sixers entertain the Bobcats Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.