It was only two years ago that the Bobcats went through a season like the one the 76ers are going through now. Thankfully, we've gotten through that stage, and the Bobcats have been rewarded with a fun, young, and talented team capable of blowing out opponents. The Sixers are at that stage right now, however, and I can't help but make comparisons to that 2011-12 Bobcats team. Maybe that's not completely fair, as they're a different team that already has some of their future on the roster (Michael Carter-Williams and the injured Nerlens Noel, in addition to a handful of first-round picks and a lot of cap space). That was such a dark time for the Bobcats, and it's going to be my standard for "terrible professional basketball" for a while.
There are only three Bobcats remaining from that dreadful 2012 squad: Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, and Bismack Biyombo (D.J. White was recently signed to a ten-day contract as well, but his impact on the current team is miniscule at best). It makes sense that two of them were rookies that season, and the other a young but productive player. Biyombo has been relegated to the bench this season, with his minutes given to players both better and newer. To get out of that rut, the team needed a complete overhaul. It is probably coincidence that both the 2012 Bobcats and 2014 76ers employ Byron Mullens. But we can't rule anything out.
And that's where we are now. After two years, the Bobcats are a playoff-bound team that made smart front office moves to take their limited assets and turn them into a quality ones. Maybe we're far enough removed from those years where it was more fun than depressing to reflect on a team that, no matter how many games you watched, we all spent too much of our time following. And so far this is the payoff, where the lineage between rock bottom and what's possibly the best team in the history of the franchise is clear. Anyway, we've been there before and we'll be there again, time is a flat circle, etc.; sometimes I'm reminded of how fortunate we are that this team's been able to turn things around so quickly.
In between all this, there was still a basketball game tonight, and I enjoyed reacquainting myself with the 76ers' players, most of whom I remember from college ball and haven't seen since. Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson, who both started, were teammates during a fairly underwhelming period at Georgetown (Thompson has started 35 games with a PER of 9.6, but that's something to discuss at a later time). Brandon Davies, who had six points and three rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench, is most famous for being kicked off the team at Brigham Young University for violating a rule that is simply not a rule at most Division I schools. Jarvis Varnado, he of four points and five fouls in 16 minutes, is on his fourth team in two years and Philadelphia is the first stop in which he's played more than 40 minutes. All of this is eerily reminiscent of the Cory Higgins era in Charlotte, although at least the 76ers have the good sense to not put Byron Mullens in the starting lineup.
On the other side of the court, the Bobcats couldn't miss a shot, shooting 53.2 percent from the floor and even better from behind the arc. They also got to the stripe 35 times. Nobody said scoring 123 points in today's NBA was easy, but I can tell you that it didn't look difficult tonight. And, quite honestly, listing the names of every Bobcat and spitting different variations of "he played very well tonight" for all of them would be uninteresting for you to read, so just know that without they all played like the best versions of themselves tonight. Al Jefferson led the way, scoring 25 points with 10 rebounds in 31 minutes tonight. Cody Zeller started due to a Josh McRoberts injury, and he seemed to fit right in, but I wouldn't put too much stock into this one game.
In conclusion: Could [the team that wins Monday's NCAA Championship] beat the 76ers?