David Hein's Eye on the Future

Why Sixers fans can expect more supporters in near future

REGENSBURG (David Hein's Eye on the Future) - Don't be surprised if more people around the world start liking the Philadelphia 76ers a lot more in the near future. First of all, the team may have gone through a dismal season last year but they are collecting some big time talent. And they came up with a very classy move at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup

Three of the biggest stars of the Sixers' future - Michael-Carter Williams, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid - came to Sevilla to see another cornerstone of the club’s future, Dario Saric, play for Croatia at the 2014 Worlds.

That's a lot of talent on the court and sitting courtside. And all of four of the players are in their very early stages of development. Williams is still only just 22 years old after being named to the 2014 NBA All Rookie First Team while the other three are all just 20 years old.

Noel missed the entire 2013-14 season after knee surgery following a brutal injury suffered in his final collegiate season with Kentucky. But Philadelphia still thought highly enough of him to pick him sixth in the 2013 draft.

Embiid was wearing a big boot on his right foot following surgery on his broken right foot, that happened six days the draft. But the Sixers chose the Kansas big man with the No. 3 pick overall in June’s draft.

And then there's Saric, who Philadelphia acquired on 2014 draft day in a deal with the Orlando Magic for Elfrid Payton knowing that the versatile forward is not likely to come to the States for at least one if not two seasons. Orlando picked the Croatia star at number 12.

"He's a great player. It's my first time seeing him and I'm very impressed and excited about the future and having him be a part of what we’re building in Philadelphia," Noel said.

"I love this kid already. His game is so unique. With the great passing like that we're really going to grow as a team and really going to be able to do so many things."

Brown was impressed that the trio of big-name youngsters would make the trip to Spain.

"It's a great effort that these three players have made to travel across the ocean to see a fellow teammate and show him support. These four players are the cornerstones of a very young NBA program," said Brown.

"It's a wonderful experience and a wonderful opportunity for these three guys to be able to sit here and watch a fellow teammate in a different environment than the NCAA Tournament and different environment than the NBA. I'm glad that they can experience international basketball."

The Sixers also have other young talent to watch such as 25-year-old Russian international Alexey Shved, 20-year-old Jerami Grant and 20-year-old Serbian star talent point guard Vasilije Micic.

Brown himself is another reason to like the Sixers as he was an assistant and head coach of the Australian national team for nearly a decade in two shifts, including three Olympics and two World Championships. He also served as an assistant under San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich from 2002 to 2013, when he took over the reins of Philadelphia.

"You don't have the opportunity very often to rebuild a professional sports team," Brown said. 

"It's a whole different approach where you're not looking at Tim (Duncan) or Tony (Parker) or Manu (Ginobili). You're looking at young players and there's a responsibility to grow those young players. I'm grateful for that opportunity and I look forward to trying to get us back where Philadelphia remembered they were many, many years ago."

As a team that many, many people liked. They might get there quicker than some think.

David Hein


FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

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David Hein

David Hein

Walk into the media tribune of any major basketball event and there's a good chance you will come across David Hein. Having covered dozens of FIBA events, including numerous women's and youth events, there are few players Dave doesn't know about, and few players who don't know him. His sporting curiosity means he is always looking to unearth something new and a little bit special. David Hein's Eye on the Future is a weekly column digging out the freshest basketball talent worldwide and assessing what the basketball landscape will look like a couple of years down the line.