NBA Preview - Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia made some noise a season ago. They managed to upset the top seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs and took the Boston Celtics to seven games in round two. Apparently, that wasn’t enough for GM Tony DiLeo, because we have a brand new 76ers team this season. Two guys that were considered the faces of the franchise a short time ago are gone. Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand are elsewhere while they try to forge a new identity.
The moves Philadelphia made this past summer are extensive. They used their amnesty clause on Elton Brand, effectively giving him money to go away. Andre Iguodala was a casualty of the Dwight Howard to the Lakers trade as he was shipped to the Denver Nuggets. The runner-up to last season’s Sixth Man of the Year award, Louis Williams is now in Atlanta. The team has brought in Nick Young who jacks up more jumpers in the first quarter of a game than there are letters in his name. If he’s on, his scoring is deadly, but he’s far from consistent. He’s lucky the 76ers’ fans are the “gentle” group of the Philadelphia sports scene.
The big acquisition of the offseason was, of course, Andre Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers. Bynum was sent to Philly in the Dwight Howard trade and with so many impact players gone, he will now be relied on as the franchise player. He was an All-Star and second team All-NBA player a season ago and the 76ers are expecting him to flourish even more. Outside of Tyson Chandler, there aren’t that many centers in the East that can match him in physicality. Bynum just needs to keep his body parked in the paint and not floating out to the 3-point line. God knows he has all the talent in the world that could propel him into the discussion for best big man in the NBA. I’m just not sure he’s the type of player that can carry a team.
The reason I say he may have to carry the team is because there aren’t a ton of dynamic players on this roster. Jason Richardson is far from the electric highflying dunker he once was. Jrue Holiday is a solid PG, but he too lacks that ability to really take over a game. He needs talent around him. Call me pessimistic, but I'm not convinced a combination of him and Bynum on the floor makes for a championship contender. With Williams now gone, Thaddeus Young becomes the top sixth man on the team. I do believe he’ll do just fine and become a Sixth Man of the Year candidate. He’s got all the athleticism in the world and a jumper to match.
If the 76ers are going to have a successful season, Evan Turner is going to have to have a breakout year. It seems as though the moves they made over the past several months are not only centered around Andrew Bynum, but Turner as well. Now that the players have all been sorted out and rosters are set, we see that Turner has the opportunity to take over. He becomes a starter on the 76ers this season and he’s been a bit of a disappointment since being drafted 2nd overall in the 2010 draft. He’s yet to average over 10 points a game in his first two seasons, but that should change this year. He’s one of my top candidates for Most Improved Player and the reason why I have the 76ers making the playoffs.
The 76ers are a very difficult team to predict. It’s a brand new roster with little to no chemistry as of yet, so time will tell how they do. I don’t think they’ll finish any more than 10 games above .500, but in the hyper competitive, albeit a tad mediocre, Eastern Conference, they’ll manage to squeak in at a possible seven seed. Their success hinges on guys like Andrew Bynum and Evan Turner stepping up and leading the way. It’ll certainly be interesting to watch it enfold. Head coach Doug Collins is one of the better leaders in the NBA and I have a ton of faith in him to get this done.
Season Outlook: The team flirts with .500 for most of the season, but a solid last quarter of the season leads them into the playoffs. Evan Turner wins Most Improved Player.
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