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28 Days Till Sixers: How Many Games Will They Win?

I think the Sixers win more games than last year. Sean thinks I'm crazy. The two of us duked it out over email.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

There's something about this team I feel may surprise people. Not to say that they're going to compete for a playoff spot, I'm talking like twenty-plus wins. This team is still clearly lacking in the talent department, but the idea that the Sixers could compete for the worst record in an 82 game season seems pretty far fetched to me.

Bovada has set the Sixers win total at 15.5 for the year. At this juncture, I'd take the over. Sean's taking the under.

Sean O'Connor: So, Jake, we've talked about this before, and we disagree on whether the Sixers will have a better or worse record than last season. I think they'll be worse, for a number of reasons.

The primary reason is just talent - while the young talent on display this season should be better than last's, the veterans really drove up the win totals. Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes were the team's best regulars last season. Neither will be here, and both provided more value than anyone on the current roster will this season, in my opinion.

What say you?

Jake Pavorsky: I do happen to think this team will be better, even if marginally.

I tend to think the addition of Noel to this year's team will obviously help what was the league's worst defensive team last year. Nerlens will rack up a ton of steals guarding power forwards out of the high post (coupled with a handful of blocks), and assuming Henry Sims is the starting center, will be a pretty strong rebounder. Couple that with the good perimeter defending of LRMAM and all around hustle of K.J. McDaniels, I'd argue this team will be much more sound defensively.

Most importantly, I think Carter-Williams will continue to progress after a solid rookie season. He spent the last 3+ months of last year playing hurt, and was damn near lights out in April. He needs to work on his pull-up jumper and limiting his turnovers, but I can't see where his likely improvement plus a group of solid, young defenders makes this team so bad they may break the record for least wins in a season.

SOC: Noel should definitely help the defense, no matter which big position he plays. I think he's going to have major foul trouble issues causing limited minutes, but I do think they should be better. Though I will say the team was better defensively if you looked at it on a per-possession basis - 26th per basketball-reference. Adding MCW playing in his second season and appearing to pack on some muscle, LRMAM, and not Spencer Hawes manning the middle, and I agree that should get better.

But the offense, Jake. They were last in offensive rating, somehow got worse in the shooting department since the beginning of last season, and plan to play mostly two-big lineups. How is the team going to score? Who will lead the team in scoring? Like, if James Anderson didn't leave for Europe I might say he would just because defenses will surround MCW. That's the Sixers offense right now.

9 wins is a bit of a stretch, I agree with that. 13-14 sounds like a reasonable expectation though. Am I missing something here? Who's going to score.

JP: SBC: Scoring by committee.  I do think this team happens to have more depth than last season, and by that I mean this roster won't be 6 dudes and a revolving door of 10-day contracts.

Clearly Carter-Williams will lead the team in scoring because nobody else will be able to carry the load, but I don't see why he won't average around 16-17 points again this year. He's now 100% healthy, and added some extra muscle so he can finish through contact around the rim. I think his supporting cast may make up for the loss of Thaddeus Young, and the scoring Hawes and Turner supplied pre-trade deadline.

With starting minutes Henry Sims will continue to work the low post with his patented baby hook, and should average low double digits in points.

This is also a team who is going to score an ungodly amount in transition. They're young, fast, and will consistently push the floor. Between Thompson, McDaniels, Richardson (if he plays!), and Chris Johnson (if he stays!), this team should be shooting 35% from beyond the arc.

Is that insane? Am I nuts?

SOC: Yeah, you might be. The team shot 31% from three last year. Hollis Thompson is the only player on the roster who took at least 50 threes and made more than 30% of them. And I don't think his shooting is sustainable, especially in an offense where the lack of option will almost force him to be more proactive.

Shooting percentage for most players, as you know, is inversely correlated with usage. Players take easy shots if they don't use many possessions. Thompson's usage was among the lowest in the entire NBA last year, and with the lack of offensive talent on the Sixers, he's going to take tougher shots than a year ago.

The Sixers will still push the pace and make their offensive issues appear less pressing than they actually are, as you alluded to. But there's less offensive talent than a year ago. It's going to be hard to watch, and the numbers will be ugly.

JP: Yes there's offensive talent missing in the case of Hawes and Thad, who played well despite posting lower than their typical efficiency numbers. Their leading scorer in Turner was insanely disruptive to the team offensively. I think basically everyone on this team can average close to what Evan Turner did with the Sixers on as many shots as he took. He was abysmal, and really held this team back, even more so on the defensive end. Hawes really didn't provide shit on defense either; he moves like he's stuck in molasses and is an abysmal rebounder.

I think this is the year this team truly finds an defensive identity under Brett Brown and make some leaps and bounds in that department. They're all long and agile and can match up decently well on most areas of the floor. I think they're truly going to give teams fits.

They're winning 20 games this year, Sean. This is happening.