The Philadelphia 76ers are going to be bad. They may even be historically bad. Losing a lot of games is never fun, but it's something the organization isn't really trying to avoid.
The hopeful prize at the end of the grim tunnel for the Sixers is the top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, which will likely be Andrew Wiggins. So even if the losses pile up in near-record or record numbers, things may not turn out all bad for Philadelphia.
Five games to watch
Oct. 30 vs. Miami Heat - The two-time defending NBA champs against possibly the worst team in the league. The game is obviously a huge mismatch on paper, but there are a few factors that could possibly make it closer than expected. The Heat will be coming off an emotional and likely draining season opener the night before against the Chicago Bulls, and they may try to coast through this one. This is the Sixers' opener and Brett Brown's regular-season coaching debut, so they may have a little extra juice in the system.
Nov. 11 vs. San Antonio Spurs - Brown faces his old team and mentor Gregg Popovich for the first time as Sixers headmaster. Brown was an assistant under Popovich from 2007-13, so he may know a few of Pop's tricks. Of course, that likely won't matter considering the major talent gap between the two squads.
Nov. 29 vs. New Orleans Pelicans - Former Sixers All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday returns to Philadelphia for the first time after being traded on draft night in a deal for Nerlens Noel. Holiday enjoyed the best season of his young career last year, but the Sixers' decision to deal him for Noel and a 2014 first-round pick signaled that the team was going into full-blown rebuilding mode.
Dec. 28 at Phoenix Suns - This may be one of the Sixers' few legitimate chances at a road win this season as they take on the Suns in a "Wiggins-off." Like Philadelphia, Phoenix is also in rebuilding mode and will rack up plenty of losses on the year.
Jan. 18 at Chicago Bulls - The last time the Sixers traveled to the United Center for a game that featured Derrick Rose, the Bulls' superstar tore his ACL in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Playoffs and proceeded to miss the entire 2012-13 season. Having the Sixers in the building is sure to bring back some painful emotions for Rose, but he's out to return the Bulls to the championship conversation.
Philadelphia will be facing tough games all year, but the team faces an especially brutal stretch in March. Starting on March 14 against the Indiana Pacers, the Sixers have an eight-game stretch where they play the Pacers twice, the Bulls twice, the Spurs, the Memphis Grizzlies, the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets. Ouch.
Perhaps the Sixers' best chance at a possible winning streak comes at the end of February into early March. The Sixers have a five-game homestand against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards, with a trip to Orlando following that.
Important schedule facts
Season and home opener: Oct. 30 vs. Heat
Longest road trip: Six games from Dec. 21-Jan. 4
Longest homestand: Five games from Feb. 18-March 1