Should New Jersey Devils Fans Worry About Philadelphia 76ers Playoff Collapse?

Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Trust the process. That’s the mantra that the Philadelphia 76ers brass would put out there while they were one of the worst teams in the league. The group led by Josh Harris and David Blitzer bought the 76ers back in 2011. The team was toiling in playoff contention, but they were nowhere near actual championship contenders. So, some changes were made.

It all started when the 76ers traded away Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and a 1st-round pick. It was the first push to get younger as they looked towards the future. Noel was someone who never lived up to his draft position, so he could get new life on the Sixers after missing the first year of his career due to injury.

That started years of losing, trading away players for the best possible return, and going for top draft picks to build around star players. It looked like it was finally starting to work. Joel Embiid was the first piece, and he was perfect. He was considered the best player in the 2014 NBA Draft. He was also injured, and he was likely going to miss most, if not all, of the next season. So, the Sixers could have another bad season and draft a star to play with Embiid.

Over the next three seasons, the 76ers had a third-overall pick and two first-overall picks. They took Jahlil Okafor, Ben Simmons, and Markel Fultz. Fultz and Okafor have both been traded for spare parts because they were not very good in Philadelphia. Simmons might be the next player out because of what happened on Sunday night. The 76ers were supposed to take it to the Atlanta Hawks, who were riding Trae Young who’s shooting was no longer lights out. Simmons showed up to the tune of five points on four shots.

So, what does this have to do with the New Jersey Devils? Well, there are two reasons you should care. One, the Devils are clearly going in the same direction as the 76ers. They tried to build based on being bad. They got two number-one overall draft picks. There are other top picks surrounding them. This team is built around youth and that’s what is going to drive them for the next decade.

More from Pucks and Pitchforks

However, it didn’t work in Philadelphia. Now, Harris and Blitzer, who also own Crystal Palace but are apparently looking to sell their shares, have to look into how they are running their organizations. The Sixers never made it past the second round of the playoffs. They got the big name coach in Doc Rivers this season and they added the big name executive in Darryl Morey. That got them a first-round win against an overmatched Washington Wizards team.

Obviously, most Devils fans would take the Sixers season at this point. 49 wins and a playoff series win? Sign us up after the past nine seasons. However, the point was for the Devils to become true contenders. That is the same goal for the 76ers. It’s hard to say either team looks any closer to a championship than they ever have.

The other issue is the Devils have a lot of work to do this offseason. Now, the 76ers might have even more work to do. At the same time, the Sixers have to figure out what to do with their “star” Ben Simmons after his value took a dive. The Devils have to figure out what to do with $37 million in cap space. If the Seattle Kraken take P.K. Subban in the expansion draft, that number immediately becomes $46 million.

There’s a lot on the plate for Harris and Blitzer. It sounds like they are selling one team, they are changing the narrative on another team, and then they are looking to build the Devils back up from the ground floor. It’s a busy offseason, and it would be a lot better if the 76ers gave the Devils’ owners a playbook on how to become winners. Alas, that playbook has been more and more elusive for Harris and Blitzer as they head back to the drawing board.