Doug Collins: “I personally thought we had maxed our team out”
PF Jrue Holiday Royal Ivey, Maalik Wayns (r)
SG Evan Turner Nick Young, Jason Richardson
SF Thaddeus Young Dorrell Wright
PF Spencer Hawes LaVoy Allen, Arnett Moultrie (R)
C Andrew Bynum Kwame Brown, Mikki Moore
Offseason Recap: With one move, I think the 76ers had the best offseason of any team…let alone the other 3 or 4 that they made. In acquiring All-Star center Andrew Bynum for Andre Iguodala (a guy who was on the block for months) this team went from an upstart to an establishment. Doug Collins admitted recently that last year’s squad went as far as they could go and that a change was needed to take the next step…..bravo, sir. If only the Atlanta Hawks had that kind of thinking years ago, they might have made it to the conference finals just once. In addition to their new center, Philly also added Dorrell Wright and Jason Richardson via trade. Nick Young also came over on a one-year deal so he’ll be on his game in a contract year. Lastly, rookie Arnett Moultrie will fit in perfectly with this group at the SF spot. Losing 6th Man and leading scorer Lou Williams definitely hurts, but the team has a new look going forward and he wouldn’t have had the same impact anyways. Amnestying Elton Brand and the final year of his max deal should’ve surprised no one. He played good last year but not $18.2 million-a-year good. Lastly, Andrew Bynum underwent a knee procedure in Germany last month (the same one as Kobe Bryant had last summer) and will miss most of the preseason as he recovers.
Strengths: Versatility. This team still has so many options out on the court I want to fire up my NBA2K right now. They’ve got a 6’5″ PG and a shooting guard who can play point at times. Their starting SF is now Thaddeus Young, a freakishly long lefty who can guard anywhere from the 1-4 spot. This group also has a strong sense of identity thanks to the imprint of their coach Doug Collins and a couple years of cohesion. They’ll need it in the very tough Eastern Conference (see MIA, IND, CHI, NYK, BKN).
Dorrel Wright recently said this of new teammate Andrew Bynum: “I would say he’s the best big man in the NBA right now, hands down.” Assuming this is indeed true (as I’ve said before), then the 76ers definitely have one huge ace in their lineup. In an era where true centers are hard to find, Philly has an All-Star (Bynum) and solid role guys (Kwame, Spencer, & Lavoy). No wonder Doug wants to start two of them.
Weaknesses: This group had a historic season in 2011-12, and not in a good way. They were last in the league in 3-point shooting at 36% and almost set the record for fewest free throw attempts in a season. The presence of Bynum down low will help get them to the line more often and also create open looks off of double-teams. Andrew, though, isn’t the best passer out of the post. Plus, shooter Jodie Meeks is now a Laker. However, Nick Young did impress me last season as a Clipper with his catch n’ shoot ability. J-Rich, too, is a very good 3-pt shooter but will he get consistent playing time in a crowded backcourt? Head coach Doug Collins said before the trade that he plans to fo with a ’Twin Towers’ inside. He’s determined to turn Spencer Hawes into Pau Gasol. But if he follows through on this, he may as well just shoot Drew in the foot right now. Bynum needs space down low to operate. He played for years next to a 7-footer…it’s time he have the paint all to himself on offense.
Prediction: I predict that coach will abandon his plan of playing two 7-footers together and that Spencer Hawes will be headed out of town by February. Overall, I think the key to the season will be how Thaddeus Young adapts to being the starting SF (assuming that’s Collins’ choice). He was hardly a difference-maker last year after signing his new deal. But the minutes weren’t exactly consistent coming off the bench. The pressure should be off now and the looks on offense should be plentiful. Let’s just hope he worked on his jumper this summer.
I so badly want to predict that this team will shock the world and face Miami in the conference finals…the Heat won’t be able to kick this new and improved Philly lineup around like they did the old one. However, it’s hard to say that both the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls won’t make it past the 2nd round. I will make this bold statement…the Sixers will win the Atlantic Division from start to finish (last season they faded like a Carlos Boozer jumper). The team will have chemistry right from the jump as Andrew Bynum will assume the alpha dog role. The other guys will feed off this since that’s exactly what they’ve been missing. Boston Celtics…you’ve been warned.