Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Season Preview: Philadelphia 76ers

The Joy Formidable - (Photo by Drew Hallowell-Getty Images)

We left off with the Sixers losing in Game 7 to the Boston Celtics in the second round of the 2012 playoffs, a round many thought the Sixers were fortunate to even see due to the misfortunes of Chicago's Derrick Rose and his torn ACL. And those people would have a legitimate case, considering the Sixers 35-31 record and eight place conference finish. But the Liberty boys were no accident. Their tough defense kept them in many games that their struggling offense could not and gave them the opportunity to win against superior opponents. It's a process the Sixers hope isn't necessary this year though.

via ESPN

Additions: The Sixers had several key additions in the offseason, but none bigger than Andrew Bynum. The 7-foot, 285-pound, seven-year vet was traded to the Sixers for Dwight Howard mid-summer and seemed to relish in the fact that he was now closer to his hometown of Plainsboro, N.J.

Wildly considered the second best center in the NBA, Bynum produced the best season of his career last year and made his first All-Star appearance as a starter for the Western Conference. His addition to the Sixers, once healthy, should improve their team on both sides of the ball.

Jason Richardson's move from Orlando in the Howard/Bynum trade should prove he can still be an effective scorer in the Sixers offense. And though his best days may be behind him, he is a very capable scorer and cannot be left unattended.

For Nick Young, what the young shooting guard lacks in defense and size, he makes up for with pure scoring genius. If Young can get himself under control in coach Doug Collins' system, he could see his most productive year yet.

Other notable additions: Kwame Brown (Milwaukee), Dan Gadzuric (New York), Royal Ivey (Oklahoma City), Mikki Moore (Golden State), Dorell Wright (Golden State) and Damien Wilkins (Detroit).

Subtractions: Tony Battie and Elton Brand both relocated to Dallas while defensive virtuoso Andre Iguodala was traded to Denver. Jodie Meeks (LA Lakers),  Louis Williams (Atlanta), Nikola Vucevic (Orlando), and Sam Young (Cleveland).
The Skinny: Because of this offseason's massive overhaul, the Sixers should find themselves with far more depth than last year. The combo of Bynum and Brown should give the Sixers plenty of size inside to contend with the league's biggest backcourts. Yeah I know we are talking Kwame Brown, but the man does have some size to him and can play a little defense when he feels up to it. Add Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young into the mix, and you have a tough front court. 

The Sixers' offensive woes should find a little kickstart from Bynum's presence as well. Bynum is known for his offensive efficiency, especially in crunch-time minutes. Young will also bring his gun slinger mentality to the mix, which should add some fire power off the bench. Jrue Holiday should continue to improve as a solid point guard while continuing to stay efficient controlling the ball. 

The X Factor: Evan Turner will be key to the Sixers' success this year. His offensive inconsistency makes him a liability, but his flashes of brilliance keep alive the Sixers' hopes that they did not waste a No. 2 pick on the third-year shooting guard. If he is going to make the turn, he will have to cut back on the turnovers -- 1.6 per game -- and start shooting better than 22.4 percent from behind the arc. 

The Rooks: Not expecting much out of these guys, but they could add depth on the end of a moderately dense bench. 

Maalik Wayns
Arnett Moultrie
Devin Searcy

Payton's Projection: 3rd in the Atlantic Division / 6th in the Eastern Conference

*All stats provided by ESPN
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Sheridan Hoops