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ProBasketballTalk 2013-14 Preview: Philadelphia 76ers

Sep 20, 2013, 10:02 AM EDT

Last season: The 76ers went 34-48, the 11th time in the last 12 seasons they won between 33 and 48 games. They made the playoffs most seasons during that span, but they only one two postseason series. With the emergence of the NBA’s second-youngest All-Star last year, Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia seemed like it had a player who could lead them into another dozen years of bland playoff contention. Oh, Andrew Bynum was on the team, too, but he had no relevancy to the 76ers’ season other providing a massive distraction.

Signature highlight from last season: Fittingly, this sequence began with a 76er missing a long 2.

Key player changes: New 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie was mum on his plan until he made a huge draft-night trade, sending Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for the No. 6 pick, which Philadelphia used on Nerlens Noel. On a clear rebuilding path, the 76ers also let Andrew Bynum, Dorell Wright and Nick Young leave in free agency. Philadelphia replaced them with younger and cheaper players like Tony Wroten and Darius Morris, who will have opportunities to play on a tanking 76ers team.

Philadelphia also hired a new coach to replace Doug Collins, former Spurs assistant Brett Brown.

Keys to the 76ers’ season:

1) How athletic is Nerlens Noel? Noel, injury aside, was by far the best prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft. His shot-blocking and steals numbers at Kentucky were elite, and great indicators of star-level athleticism. Of course, that didn’t mean Noel would be a guaranteed NBA success, especially in this draft, which was relatively weak at the top. But he was the best bet.

His ACL tear changed all that and was certainly the driving factor for his surprising draft-night tumble. At some point (though it might be 2014-15), the 76ers must assess whether the injury has any lingering effects for Noel. If not, they likely got a steal. If it does, Noel’s athleticism-dependent game might come apart.

2) Can Michael Carter-Williams become a starting point guard on a good team? Carter-Williams will be handed major minutes, because the 76ers are tanking, but he must develop to keep a starting job when Philadelphia actually gets good. That starts with his notoriously shaky jump shot, but transitioning to NBA defense after playing in Syracuse’s zone will also be an issue. Plus, Carter-Williams’ passing really fell off against quality opponents last season.

His size makes him an intriguing prospect, but Carter-Williams is very much a work in progress. Philadelphia will be looking for clues to his long-term outlook.

3) How much trade value do Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes have? Sam Hinkie must want to build this team in his image, and it’s unclear any of those three fit the blueprint. Turner and Hawes are free agents after the season, so if Hinkie doesn’t trade them, he risks losing them for nothing. Young is under contract for two to three more seasons, but he’s also a good player, someone who might help the 76ers win too much. If Young, Turner and/or Hawes play well, that means both they’ll have more trade value and they’ll help Philadelphia win more. Because the 76ers want to avoid wins, there’s a good chance they trade any of these three who play well.

Why you should watch the 76ers: If you’re a fan of Philadelphia’s opponent, it will be fun to watch your favorite team win.

For 76ers fans… um… hmmm… every loss stick it to David Stern. So, there’s that.

Prediction: 19-63. It’s difficult to project a team to finish much worse than this, but the 76ers will try. A better pick in the loaded 2014 draft means more to Philadelphia than a few extra meaningless wins, and newly hired Sam Hinkie has the job security to go that route. The 76ers are inexperienced, and there will be growing pains, but a high pick next summer would heal a lot of wounds.

  1. illbringdabeers - Sep 20, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    David Stern’s comments all but guarantee that the Sixers won’t get Wiggins. Philly will have a worse record but Boston will win the lottery.

    • jcmeyer10 - Sep 20, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      Boston ain’t winning that lottery because they won’t be in it 😀

    • asimonetti88 - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      Just like 1997 and 2007, right

  2. Gary - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Ok if they were really going just give up the whole season and tank why not go for 9-73? Heck no wins period. It’s really stupid of you to make a prediction like that when you don’t know what’s in the minds of those players. They obviously know they aren’t playoff bound, but no one likes to lose and I doubt these guys just give up games.

  3. tcclark - Sep 20, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    The Sixers aren’t tanking. Tanking is when you lose on purpose. The Sixers have just assembled a roster so poor that no matter how hard they try, they probably won’t win. That’s the way to do it. You always want guys playing hard. Tanking requires players to take it easy.

  4. somekat - Sep 21, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    I do think the sixers will have the worst record in the league this year. Obviously the lottery is always a crap shoot, and as a Sixers fan, I’d rather have Wiggins, but I’d be ok if we wound up with #2 in next years draft.

    As far as this year goes, Hawes, Young and Turner are just on auditions for the rest of the league. My guess is, Young gets moved for a pick (projected) around 16-22 around the trade deadline. He’s the kind of guy every contender wants coming off the bench as an energy guy. If Turner plays well, combined with his expiring deal, I could see him going for a late first, or a future first. If they can move Hawes during one of his hot streaks, they may be able to get the same from a team desperate for a big, with his expiring contract being an added bonus.

    Bottom line, if things fall in to place (good picks Carter Williams developes, Noel comes back healthy with no issues, FA see the core of young players and want to come here etc), this team could be back in the hunt next year. 2-3 years down the line for sure (I would doubt top tier FA’s would come here tile guys like Noel and whoever they get next year prove a bit)

    I also like the Brett Brown hire. With the young guys that you would think at least are willing to listen dominating the roster, I think he is a good guy to instill the kind of attitude this team is going to want going forward. To be honest, he is a MUCH better hire than I expected when they went as long as they did watching other solid candidates going to other teams

    Either way, I’m excited as a Sixers fan because there is hope. It may be as little as 10 months away, or as long as 3 years away, it may never materialize at all, but at least it’s there. For the last 10 years, there has been none, they have been a mediocre team with no chance to beat a real contender in a 7 game series and no top tier talent on the horizon

  5. dysraw1 - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    from the days of the doctor, Andrew Toney and Mo Cheeks ive always had good feeling about this franchise, its to bad that folks are saying they are throwing in the towel.the got dealt a bad hand in the Andrew Bynum deal.its gonna take some time to recover. i wish you guys well

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