How Long Will the Philadelphia 76ers Keep Losing?

By Julian Ryan

The Philadelphia 76ers are really bad at basketball. It’s starting to get awkward. We thought last year’s version of random dudes that actively tanked was bad, but is it possible this season’s team is even worse? The Sixers are 0-7 and getting blown out by an average of a whopping 12.9 points per game – at least last year’s version kept the blowouts to a respectable 10.5 points. A recent tangotiger thread pegged NBA replacement level at -2 points per 200 possessions. Philly currently has three players above that threshold and two just barely (the astounding Tony Wroten is the lone bright spark thus far).

How long will this continue? The Sixers tied the record last season with an impressive 26-game losing streak. They’re already seven games there—can they beat their own record? Philly has a terrible SRS of -10.1; I collected the SRS of their opponents to estimate the expected line of their upcoming schedule, adjusting for home court advantage. From there the standard deviation of points against the spread is approximately 11 and assuming a normal distribution of outcomes, we can estimate the Sixers’ probability of losing in each game and from there, how long the streak will last. The graph below shows the probability of the streak going to at least that number of games.

Sixers Losing Probability Graph

So while the Sixers still explicitly suck, they are unlikely to go over 26 games this time around. The probability of the current streak going 27 games or longer is only 1.9%. Although their next three games are tough on the road in Texas, Boston, Phoenix and the Knicks in games 11-13 of the streak are some of their best opportunities for a win. If they still manage to impressively go defeated through that gauntlet, they may have to wait for a depleted OKC on December 5th for another solid chance (if they are still depleted…).

So good luck to the Sixers tonight in Dallas – I’ll be rooting for them. No one wants to see the sad sack of the league keep failing (well, except for the front office).

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