The 76ers of Philadelphia (27-55), like so many teams in the Atlantic Division, have fallen on hard times. Last season, they were fourth in the division and 12th in the Eastern Conference. But Philly has something going for it—talented youth. And this season that youth may just make a difference in the City of Brotherly Love.
In the frontcourt, Marreese Speights (.477 FG%, .000 3PT%, .745 FT%, 4.1 RPG, 0.6 APG, 8.6 PPG) is entering his third season. He can score at will but the guy has to be better conditioned and he has to work on his “D” in a major way. He can be an outstanding player if he works hard enough.
At the power spot, 11-year vet Elton Brand (.480 FG%, .000 3PT%, .738 FT%, 6.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 13.1 PPG) starts his third season with the Sixers. Brand is an inside player who offers some decent defensive chops but weak rebounding. You expect more from the player, but it’s doubtful that you’re going to get it. Off the bench, Thaddeus Young (.470 FG%, .348 3PT%, .691 FT%, 5.2 RPG, 1.4 APG, 13.8 PPG) offers as much if not more than Brand. This is his first season at the power spot. In his initial three NBA seasons, Young has been a small forward.
This season small forward is anchored by the versatile Andre Iguodala (.443 FG%, .310 3PT%, .733 FT%, 6.5 RPG, 5.8 APG, 17.1 PPG); Iguodala can also play shooting guard. He is a solid player with good defensive hands. He’s been moved to the forward spot to make room for rookie Evan Turner.
The shooting guard position will be manned by first-year player Evan Turner from Ohio State. Turner has a massive shot and brings a stabile personality to the court. He’ll be able to contribute immediately. The second pick in this year’s NBA Draft, he’s going to add to the Sixers’ offensive clout quickly but will need to develop and hone his defensive skills.
Now starting his second season, Jrue Holiday (.442 FG%, .390 3PT%, .756 FT%, 2.6 RPG, 3.8 APG. 8.0 PPG) looks to be the primary point guard for the 76ers. There was a lot of doubt and wonder concerning this player last season. But when all was said and done, he proved to be a winner. Lou Williams (.470 FG%, .340 3PT%, .824 FT%, 2.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, 14.0 PPG), who has five seasons in the NBA, is a solid and experienced presence. Along with having an accurate shot, he’s a sound defensive player.
On offense, the 76ers were ranked 20th with their Offensive Efficiency at 103.4. In terms of pace, they were 23rdwith a Pace Factor of 93.8. Those two numbers mean that there was not a lot happening in terms of point production last season. Although the Sixers bombed from downtown, they could not convert those bombs. Plus, in the frontcourt, there was no post threat. Going into the new season, the team will have guys who can penetrate but they also need players who can grab the offensive rebound and convert the second chance.
Last season, the Philly “D” came in at 107.6, which was 23rdin the league. The team’s three-point defense was the worst in the NBA as opponents sank 39.3% of their attempts. Plus, the Sixers had the second-fewest blocked shots as they knocked away just 5.0%, tying them with Dallas. The biggest challenge facing this team this season is its lack of frontcourt defense.
The hiring of head coach Doug Collins (332-287) may have been the best move that this team has made. Collins has coached for eight years, including heading the helm in Chicago, Detroit and Washington. True, he has not been a head coach since 2003, but he does know basketball and he should do a good job of making players accountable on defense as well as offense.
This is a team that could be playoff bound if a few things go their way. First, they need to see their young talent blossom and grow. Second, Collins has to nurture that growth by setting high standards. If those two things occur, then the Sixers will have a shot at second in the Atlantic, a winning record and seventh in the East.
I can see us using the 76ers as a daily NBA pick quite a few times to start the season as in our estimation they are very undervalued to start the season. You can view the point spreads on the 76ers games and the rest of the league on our NBA odds page of the site.