Hey everyone, check it out, outsiders take on the 76ers.
The Philadelphia 76ers were thrust into the Eastern Conference race this season when they helped the Lakers get Dwight Howard. While LA got the best center in the league the Sixers got the second best center in Andrew Bynum. Now that Howard is out of the Eastern Conference, Bynum can grab the spotlight in Philly, as he is their number one man now that Andre Iguodala is gone. The Sixers are very similar to the Indiana Pacers, I team I previewed two weeks ago. They both have star centers and superb supporting casts. It seems to me that the two squads will be battling it out for the third and fourth seed playoff spots this season. Lets take a look at Philly's roster:
The first thing I notice about the depth chart is the abundance of growing stars on the roster. Jrue Holiday runs the show on offense. Holiday is a seasoned, fundamental player who has really impressed in his first few years in the "city of brotherly love". Now that Holiday has a center like Bynum to help him, expect his assist numbers to go through the roof. Holiday was at 4.5 assists last season, this year I would love to see Holiday go up to 8 assists a game with all the talent on this roster. If Holiday can enter into the elite echelon of Eastern Conference point guards, Philly will be sitting pretty through the season. Royal Ivey, an NBA journeyman, is a solid option as a backup to Holiday. Former Villanova point guard Maalik Wayns, showed a lot of life during summer leagues in Orlando and Vegas, and could jump Ivey for the primary backup spot.
The main battle in Sixers camp this year will probably be at shooting guard. Jason Richardson and his hefty contract were acquired in the Bynum trade, while Nick Young was signed this offseason to offset the loss of Lou Williams. As of now, Richardson looks set to start, but I wouldn't be surprised if Nick Young was given the nod on opening day. Richardson and Young are both lengthy at 6'6 and 6'7 respectively, but Young has the better statistical numbers. The Sixers have done a pretty good job replacing the production of Williams and Iguodala. Both Young and Richardson will contribute something close to 15 points a game (Young averaged 14.2 points, Richardson 12) and play tough defense. I'm expecting Richardson to transform into somewhat of a role player, while I have high hopes for Nick Young.
Evan Turner is expected to start at small forward this season, and Philly fans are excited to see how good he can become. Turner was a standout in college at Ohio State and has found some success at the NBA level, but is still looking to become the star that people see him as. Turner put up 9 points and 6 boards last year coming off the bench, and this year should be his breakout campaign. Behind Turner is Thaddeus Young, yet another player who could become a force this year. If coach Doug Collins can squeeze in some more minutes for him,Young, a 6'8 man out of Georgia Tech, could have a sixth man of the year award like season. Young scored 12 and picked up 5 boards a game with limited time last year; if he could get 30-35 minutes he could become more of a 16 and 9 type of guy. I expect big things for him this season. And then there's Dorrell Wright, a sharp shooter who will likely fill Jodie Meeks' role from last season, now that Meeks is a Laker.
The PF position this year isn't full of stars, but I think the play from Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes will be very consistent this year. Hawes had a solid year last year, but he didn't take the league by storm. Any production from him that goes along the lines of 9 points/8-10 boards would be considered good enough from a 76ers fans perspective, looking at all the other talent they have. Lavoy Allen was a very strong rebounder last year, especially come playoff time, so look for him to come off the bench and clean up the boards for 20 minutes a game. First round pick Arnett Moultrie won't be expected of much *this* season, but I think he could make some decent contributions along the line of 6 points and 5 boards in maybe 10 or 15 minutes of game time this season. Moultrie will take on a larger role as he progresses through the league in the next few seasons.
And finally, at center, Andrew Bynum is ready to lead these Sixers to the top. Bynum expressed how happy he was to be in Philly in his opening press conference a few days ago, and I think he as the potential to become an All-NBA first teamer. Bynum will certainly get alot of looks in his new uniform, especially since he's the only *dominating* post player on the roster. Don't be surprised to see this guy average 25 and 13 on a nightly basis. That being said, if Bynum goes into a funk and wants out at some point in the season, watch out. Personally though I see great things from Bynum this season. Behind Bynum is Kwame Brown, arguably the biggest NBA bust of all time. Brown will get little time unless Bynum gets hurt, even then Spencer Hawes would likely assume the role.
The 76ers are a dark horse to win the Title this year. They have all the makings of a champ team, a star player (Bynum) a young leader (Holiday) and a vast amount of young players with a lot of talent and energy (Turner, Young, Thad Young, Hawes). I would say the Sixers are still behind the C's, Heat and Pacers in terms of how their regular seasons turn out, but I can imagine a scenario where the Sixers obtain the four seed and upset the Heat in the second round. I just like the overall depth of this team, and how they have a core of young guys who have all been in Philly the past few seasons, waiting for a star like Bynum to show up. My bold prediction is that the Sixers will make a run to the ECF, knocking off the Heat and setting up a rematch of last years battle between them and Boston. For 76ers fans, this will be a great year.
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jrue_Holiday
By the way, I'm a 15 year old fan with a blog, not an expert by any means.