2010-11 NBA Preview: Philadelphia 76ers

It’s been tiring. Over the last couple of seasons people have been so poetically referring to the prospects/potential of Elton Brand reviving the Philadelphia 76ers as “The Philadelphia Experiment.” We’ve been there. We’ve done that. Data has come back from the labs and as we all know, the results have not been favorable. Now, as we come into a third year of the team’s rebuilding process, we find some changes are now in place that may just set new things to come in motion. There are three major changes:

  1. They hired a new coach, Doug Collins.
  2. They opted to shake things up in their front court by trading away Samuel Dalembert.
  3. They lucked out and got the second pick in this season’s draft, which they used to pick Evan Turner.

That’s what’s new with the team, but let’s not forget that at it’s core still lies it’s two best players, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand. They are actually surrounded by a decent core of returning, support-players like Louis Williams; Thaddeus Young; and Jrue Holiday.

Now all they really need to do is get their two studs on the same page and actually get them to do some damage as a duo. Maybe Pau and Kobe can invite them over for a game of charades one night? Or not! This is something that they will have to set in motion on their own.

New Coach

Speaking of motion… exit Coach Eddie Jordan’s motion offense. It kind of had to go away… ALONG with the coach who has been replaced by Doug Collins, who FYI, was picked number one overall by Philly in 1973 . This is an opportunity for a fresh start for the Sixers, because frankly speaking, the motion offense was simply not working for them. Collins is a fine coach and has the experience to deliver a clear direction for this team. He has a respectable 332-287, win-loss NBA coaching record; but unfortunately has been known for being part of some of the more unpopular highlights in NBA history…

…but I’m sure we can let bygones be bygones, right? Yes, we can all say it in unison kids… FAIL!

Got it out of your system yet?

Had your laugh? Good, let’s move on.

Well let’s give him a pass, at least for now, and see if he can get this young and talented team working (and playing) as one unit. One would think that coming from a 27 win, 55 loss record in 2009-2010, there is no other way to steer this team but UP… right? Doug will surely bring some inspiration to a locker room that quite frankly, has lost its way. He will have a free hand at probably the last chance to make Philadelphia’s acquisition of Elton Brand an acceptable, if not even marginal, success.

Depth Chart

PG: Jrue Holiday, Louis Williams

SG : Evan Turner, Willie Green, Jodie Meeks, Rodney Carney

SF: Andre Iguodala, Andres Nocioni, Jason Kapono

PF: Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young, Andres Nocioni, Jason Smith

C:  Spencer Hawes, Marreese Speights, Francisco Elson

The Crew

Let’s kick things of with the newbie on the team. Yahoo’s Marc Spears has Evan Turner as one of the losers of the NBA’s summer league, but as of the Sixers’ July 16th team report Turner is still expected “to start opposite Iguodala (Andre) on the wing.” And because of his expected start, Turner should be considered as a late round flier in most leagues, if only to ride the reward of his athleticism and basketball IQ.

While I would have personally preferred to see him learn the ropes from the bench, and see Turner be on-court Iguodala while the real one is resting on the bench, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. The Sixers see that he’s capable of making an instant impact and want him to begin his hands-on training A.S.A.P. Whether this is a sign that they want to groom a potential, future replacement for AI9, we’ll have to wait and see.

The bottom line is that this Buckeye will have to 1.) get into better NBA shape 2.) learn to work well WITHOUT the ball, something that he was not accustomed to in his last year of playing college ball 3.) take his first PRO year in stride and quickly crank up his learning curve. It will be interesting to see how well he’ll be able to hold on to starter’s minutes.

Spencer Hawes and his lackluster performance with the Sacramento Kings last season made him look more like a forgettable back-up singer on GLEE rather than the star center we were all hoping he would grow into. Will he, can he, be a better complement to Elton Brand (than Samuel Dalembert) in the front court?

If he doesn’t want the pressure of being “the man” down low, he now needn’t worry. Brand, while seemingly unable to do so last season, is still willing and determined to be the team’s difference maker in the low block. The risk with Hawes is that if he does carry over his underwhelming and uninspired production, we could very well see Marreese Speights steal his thunder in no time.

For now though, giving Hawes some benefit of the doubt, he should be a little bit more inspiring and metaphorically gleeful as a starter on this new team. Speights and his high-energy hustle would be a better spark plug off the bench.

Elton Brand has been more conundrum than inspiring comeback story last season. More than issues of him just “not properly fitting in,” it’s the ominous possibility of it all  being about his expected decline is what makes Philly top brass and some fantasy managers find it hard to not swallow the in-denial pill. For now, it’s more prudent to expect the worst and hope for the best when it comes to dealing with Brand this coming 2010 season. At the end of the day, draft Brand with a touch of conservatism and less about him potentially making a comeback. While that ship may not have sailed just yet, stormy weather may still be ahead.

As erratic as EB has been the last couple of years, Andre Iguodala has remained reliable and consistent. Things look like we’re headed for another season of his counting-stats-goodness. There’s no indication that he will cease producing points, assists, steals, rebounds, and threes for your fantasy team in 2010. It’s HIS team. He’s the main man. It’s just that he’s not as prolific a scorer as some other fantasy draft picks. His percentages leave a lot to be desired, but those (and his turnovers) are the only things keeping him from meriting a higher draft position.

Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young should still continue to get better. There aren’t any real major foreseeable jumps in their performance to pump up pre-draft raves for them. They’re both still very fantasy viable, nonetheless. Sweet Lou Williams will be taking a hit. He should produce impressive sixth man type of numbers, but they might not be at par with last year’s crop of numbers.

So, for the guys we want to draft… Here’s your official GMTR Guidance (for a 12 team league):

Andre Iguodala – Acceptable reach in the late second; good value at early third; steal at late third/early fourth.

Elton Brand - Acceptable reach in late sixth (6th!) round; good value in the seventh; steal in the tail end of the eighth round onwards. Agree or disagree, but he did finish last season at 102nd in the GMTR Rater.

Louis Williams - Ninth round or so, depending on how well you see Holiday and Turner running things in the back court.

Spencer Hawes – Latetenth round, if you’re optimistic; eleventh if you’re a bit more level headed; he should be a good value pick in the 12th round and onwards.

Evan Turner/Thaddeus Young/Jrue Holiday - They’re best as last round flier picks

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