Think about where things were in Philadelphia sports at this time just over a year ago. The Eagles had just wrapped up an extremely controversial offseason with Chip Kelly. The Phillies were in the infancy of a rebuild that was long overdue and were in for a long summer. The Sixers finished 18-64 in a season in which neither of their lottery picks from the 2014 NBA Draft played a game. The Flyers missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons and were looking for a head coach.
At the time, the Eagles were thought to be the saving grace of the city coming off of back-to-back 10-win seasons. Except then the flurry of moves blew up in Kelly’s face and led to his pink slip. The Phillies saw their manager Ryne Sandberg resign, and while they made several trades to move the rebuild along, the team ended the season with 99 loses and an important decision to make regarding its next general manager. The Flyers took the path less traveled and hired a college hockey coach to be their next man behind the bench. The Sixers ended up with one out of a possible four first round picks in the 2015 draft and spent that pick on yet another big man, Duke’s Jahlil Okafor.
All four major sports teams missed the postseason in 2015 and subsequently there were varying amounts of skepticism surrounding the respective futures of each team. The Eagles’ coaching search led to Andy Reid disciple Doug Pederson and many felt the team was trying to recreate the Reid era that ultimately fell short of a parade down Broad Street. The Flyers started 2015-2016 slow and it looked like it would be another year out of the playoffs for the orange and black. The Sixers were on their way to the second lowest win total in a single season in NBA history and the Phillies were again projected to be one of the worst teams in baseball.
| Julie Jacobson/Associated Press|
Sixers' coach Brett Brown poses with NBA Deputy Commissioner
Mark Tatum after the Sixers win the NBA Draft Lottery.
But today, when you take a look at the state of each team, maybe you’ll conclude it’s not so bleak. After three years of tanking, the Sixers finally won the NBA Draft Lottery last night and are in position to select potential superstars in LSU’s Ben Simmons or Duke’s Brandon Ingram first overall next month. The team’s glut of bigs figures to lead to some interesting trade possibilities this summer. The Flyers overachieved to make the playoffs and pushed the Washington Capitals, this year’s President’s Trophy winners, to six games. The Phillies have been one of the more surprising teams in Major League Baseball almost two months into the season and are 23-17 through 40 games. The Eagles made a blockbuster move up in the NFL Draft to select North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz second overall in hopes of finally getting out of purgatory at the game’s most important position and having a franchise QB.
Despite a long, arduous, and painful last three years in Philadelphia sports, it looks like there’s finally hope. There’s lots of promising young players with each team. Maybe this could be the beginning of something new instead of the continuation of a very stale and despondent time for the city’s professional sports teams.