The Philadelphia 76ers will not be playing their previously scheduled season opener in Toronto on November 1st. Nor will they be playing their previously scheduled home opener against the Timberwolves on November 3rd. And they will not be playing their previously scheduled etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum.
That doesn't mean we won't preview the season as it was meant to be previewed. Jeff over at CelticsBlog has been running team previews for a few years now and there's no chance we're going to let some silly little lockout ruin our previewing fun.
Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?! Find out after the jump.
Team Name: Philadelphia 76ers (AKA The Philadelphia Uncle Phils)
Last Year's Record: 0-0. Or, for sake of bookkeeping, 41-41. Same difference.
Media: I was recently on CBS Philly to discuss the Sixers with Tim Jimenez, who has the most calming voice in the history of voices. We had a good time, but he edited out all of my pop culture references. Worth a listen if you're starving for some basketball or some me. BLOG: Reaction To New Sixers Ownership.
1. What are your team's biggest needs this offseason?
There's no single position or area in need of drastic improvement that can be rectified by going after one player. A general idea of improvement and bringing in younger, high-upside talent could be a need but that's not exclusive to the Sixers. So I'd say the number one need this offseason is figuring out a plan. With the Josh Harris-led ownership group firmly in place, Rod Thorn has the offseason and nonseason to work with his new bosses to figure out the direction this team is going. The wild card is Jason Levien, who seems primed to take over for Thorn at some point in the future, based on his experience in Sacramento before his strange exit. They're going to have to pore through the roster to determine who stays and who goes, including free agent lefty enigma Thad Young - a candidate for a huge payday if the right team calls during free agency. There's a lot to do and no clear ways to go about doing it - let's just say Harris has work to do.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths & weaknesses? (so far)
Doug Collins has to be considered a huge strength to this club. It remains to be seen if he can sustain his year one success with the team but the difference in the in-game coaching, player handling, and attitude between he and previous head coach Eddie Jordan was enough to net the Sixers 14 more wins this past season. The reality is this team is quite mediocre and scraping into the first round by our toenails doesn't do much on the surface other than net us an equally mediocre first round draft pick in Nikola Vucevic, whose name I haven't written or said in at least a month - as good an indication as any that our excitement level for him isn't exactly bubbling over.
In terms of hard strengths and weaknesses, the team is good in the open court with guys like Thad, Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala performing at their best on the run. They've got a consistent three-point threat in Jodie Meeks that is an optimal 6th man on a better team. And between Spencer Hawes, Elton Brand, and Vucevic, there is some semblance of a front court coming together. The problem is, it's not a very talented front court. Marreese Speights is still ambivalent to using brain waves and athleticism simultaneously and Craig Brackins has too many holes in his game to be counted on for anything now or in the future. Have I mentioned mediocre?
3. If there is no season in 2011-12, how is your team set up for 2012?
Look, nobody is going to say that their team would be better if there weren't a season, but compared to the other franchises, the Sixers would make out relatively OK. With plenty of cap room and a few hefty expiring contracts, it would definitely be the kids' show with Jrue and Evan Turner in charge. Making a run at any of the major 2013 free agents (remember this article from way back?) would take some impressive salesmanship from the current group of guys to draw any big names into Philadelphia, but it would certainly be the goal of the people in charge. We'd miss a year of cohesion between Jrue and Evan, but our favorite past time of watching contracts expire slowly would speed up a bit, so that'd be nice.
4. If you could make one change the NBA's new CBA, what would it be?
I just want it to exist again. For a long time. So we don't have to deal with this again until I'm either dead or deaf and blind so I'm oblivious to its happening. Here's what Derek wrote a few days ago that echoes my thoughts that it truthfully doesn't matter to the fans since you and I will not be making any more money based on their negotations:
In the end, players will make a bunch of money. Owners will make even more money. That's a virtual guarantee, don't let the rhetoric from either side fool you. Neither of these sides are getting an unfair deal, they're trying to maximize their wealth, and they're willing to do so at your expense.
5. Who will be the first Sixer to do a hip-hop video with Will Smith?
The obvious answer is Louis Williams. He's a BOSS. He made his first million before he ever got laid, etc. But Lou tends to get friendly with the swears and as Will Smith's grandma will tell us, her boy doesn't swear. Thus, I'm nixing any chance at a possible collaboration with them on the grounds that Lou is a potty mouth and Will appreciates a low usage rate with higher efficiency. So our choices are either Andre (the smoothest), Jrue (their grandmom's can bond over their sweet, sweet lemonade-enjoying grandsons), or Evan, who just seems like he'd get along well with Will. I'll say Jrue because his name is the most fun to spell and Big Willie Style likes his fun names. Sisqo, the ball's in your court.