The Philadelphia 76ers are set to open up their season against the defending champion Miami Heat in just two days. Preseason practices, games, and all the hard work the team put in to prepare for the start of the regular season are over. This Sixers team has all the odds going against them and many of the NBA executives and fans believe this team could be the worst in the league. Well come Wednesday, every team has a clean slate to start from and every team is considered to be tied for first place. With this in mind, let’s take a look at ten bold predictions for your Philadelphia 76ers this upcoming season.
Michael Carter-Williams Will Finish in the Top Three of the ROY Voting
Michael Carter-Williams was selected by the Sixers with the eleventh pick in this year’s draft after the team traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. Due to the lack of a veteran point guard, or a more talented guard on the roster, Carter-Williams will be in the starting line up on opening night and for much of the regular season. The starting point guard position is the rookie’s to lose as head coach Brett Brown has handed him the keys to the offense.
With that said, MCW will finish in the top three of the Rookie of the Year voting. The Syracuse product will play significant minutes for the Sixers this season, which is a luxury many rookies will not have this year. Carter-Williams will have to produce, however, in order to show why he was taken with such a high draft pick, but fortunately for him, he is in the right situation to flourish. This Sixers team will not be anywhere near playoff contention this year so Carter-Williams will not have the pressure on him to lead the team into the playoffs. Brown’s offensive scheme of a run and gun team also fits the rookie’s style of play very well. All of these factors will lead to a top three finish in the voting as Carter-Williams will average somewhere around 10 PPG, 5 APG, and 4 RPG.
Tony Wroten Will Play a Significant Role Off the Bench
The Sixers took a chance on the twenty-year old point guard after he was released by the Memphis Grizzlies after just one season. He averaged just 2.6 PPG in his rookie season playing behind Mike Conley and Tony Allen. Wroten struggled to score consistently for the Grizz, which played a role in his release.
With the lack of depth on the Sixers’ roster, Wroten will be the sixth man in Brett Brown’s rotation. He has shown flashes of the potential that made him the 25th pick in last year’s draft throughout the preseason in this role. Despite struggling to shoot consistently, Wroten averaged eight points per game off the bench including a 20 point outburst against the Charlotte Bobcats. He showed a knack for getting into the paint, drawing fouls, and getting to the free throw line, an area where the Sixers struggled mightily last season. If he can work with Brown to fix his jump shot and continue to get to the free throw line when his name is called upon off the bench, Wroten will have a successful year for the Sixers and help anchor the bench production for a depth-less team.
James Anderson Will be Among the Best Three Point Shooters in the League
James Anderson will enter this season as the starting two guard for the Sixers after jumping around the league since being drafted three years ago. New General Manager Sam Hinkie, who signed Anderson when he was with the Houston Rockets, signed the wingman as one of his first moves as the new GM and the move has paid dividends thus far for the Sixers. Anderson has excelled in his new starting role especially from behind the arc.
Through five preseason games, Anderson has averaged fifteen points per game and converted on 13 of his 27 three-point attempts, which is good for a 48% shooting clip from behind the arc. Granted Anderson will not sustain this high shooting percentage for an entire season, but he has the potential to be among the best in the league. With Carter-Williams and Evan Turner penetrating and kicking the ball out to the perimeter, Anderson could get a lot of open three-point shot opportunities as defenses collapse on the cutting guards. We have seen this many times in the preseason and Anderson, who is a natural catch and shoot player, has benefitted greatly from the penetrating abilities of the Sixers’ guards. This preseason showing is a sign of things to come for Anderson, and he will finish in the top ten in three-point field goals made and three-point shooting percentage this season.
Thaddeus Young Will be Dangled at the Trade Deadline, but Remain a 76er
Since being drafted in 2007, Thaddeus Young has been an integral part of the 76ers’ on court strategies and is currently the longest tenured Sixer on the roster. Young plays hard night in and night out, diving for loose balls, playing scrappy defense, doing whatever the coach asks of him, and always gives 110% on the court. He is the Sixers’ most talented player on the roster with his ability to knock down outside shots and convert in the paint with his soft touch around the rim. This year he will have the task of being the veteran leader on this team and carrying much of the offensive load.
Despite the heart and talent of Thadd Young, he is not a player that a team can build around moving forward. He is more suited to be a complimentary player on a more talented roster. Young is viewed as an extremely talented player with more room to grow by executives around the league and as the trade deadline approaches, these General Managers will be calling. Trade rumors are nothing new for Young as his name has been thrown around in trade proposals for the last several years now.
General Manager Sam Hinkie will certainly listen to deals involving the veteran, who is under contract for three more seasons, and could even make him available, but in the end, Hinkie will hold on to Thaddeus Young. Team management and the fans love Young because of his all out effort on the court and the positive things that he does throughout the game. Hinkie would have a tough time explaining a trade of Young to the fans and management unless he was blown away with a proposal. For this reason, Thaddeus Young will remain a Sixer.
On the Other Hand, Turner and Hawes will be Traded in February
Due to their expiring contracts, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes will both be traded at the trade deadline. Each of these players has failed to live up to the expectations put on them when they were brought in to help this team. Since being drafted second in the 2010 NBA draft, Turner has struggled to be the cornerstone piece that management and fans thought he would be. He has struggled to consistently shoot the ball and has become turnover prone due to his tendency to overdo things on the court. Turner is entering this final year of his rookie scale contract, and the deadline to sign him to an extension is October 31. Management has given no indications that they will offer the fourth year man a new contract, which leaves Turner as an interesting trading chip for Sam Hinkie.
Spencer Hawes has the potential to be a very talented big man in this league. He has shown an ability to finish around the rim, rebound, and defend. Hawes is also a very good passer in the post for a player of his size. The only problem is that Hawes has never been able to put all of these talents together at the same time or consistently do these things for a full season. Last season, Hawes had a stretch of games where he averaged double digits in points, rebounds, and had multiple blocks in each game. Just when it seemed as though he was turning the corner, Hawes went down with an injury and went back to playing soft around the basket. The twenty-five year old center is entering the final year of his contract, and is capable of helping a team in playoff contention. Hinkie will be shopping the big man in February and will ship him off to a contender in order to free up more cap space for this offseason.
The Sixers will Finish in the Top Five in Fast Break Points Per Game
Under Doug Collins, the 76ers were among the top teams in fast break points per game. Collins emphasized pushing the ball up the court as fast as possible to get easy transition baskets. Brett Brown will run a similar offensive scheme this season, and with the current state of the roster, it is perhaps the best offensive fit. The team is full of young, athletic players with the ability to handle the ball up the court to lead the fast break and finish around the rim.
We saw examples of the Sixers’ fast break strategies throughout the preseason. As soon as a rebound was collected or the ball was picked up after an opponent’s made field goal, Brown could be heard yelling for the team to push the ball. The ball was then pushed up the court, sometimes the initial pass was to half court, and the Sixers were in attack mode. In order for this team to keep up with teams offensively, the 76ers will have to push the ball like this throughout the game. Brown has emphasized this message constantly and with the personnel on this team, the Sixers will run, run, and run some more. All of this running will lead them to the top of the league in fast break points.
The Sixers’ Defense will be Among the Worst in the League
The lack of depth on this Sixers’ roster will hurt the most on the defensive end of the floor. Due to a rash of injuries to Kwame Brown, Nerlens Noel, Arnett Moultrie, and Jason Richardson, the team is left with only eleven available players. Of the remaining eleven, only a select few are viable big men for this team. Neither of these big men are particularly good at rebounding or defending the paint, which will hurt the Sixers’ interior defense.
On the perimeter, the team has shown an early tendency to allow opponents to take a good number of wide open three-point shots. In the five preseason games against NBA teams, the Sixers allowed opponents to hit 62 out of 160 three-point shots, which is good for a 39% from behind the arc. If Brown can not fix the team’s defensive shortcomings, then opponents will continue to light up the scoreboard against the 76ers.
Another issue has been the lack of help defense for this team. Good defensive teams like the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Oklahoma City Thunder all emphasis help defense especially when playing man to man. The Sixers have not done a good job of fighting through screens or helping out their teammate by hedging to cover the man with the ball until the other defender can get around the screen. This has left the team susceptible to open jump shots or open cuts to the basket.
Unfortunately, with the lack of depth and talent of this roster, Brown may not be able to do much to help this defense. They lack a dominant defensive big man and a lockdown perimeter defender like when Andre Iguodala filled this role. These factors will lead to a league worst defensive unit that could allow well over 100 points per game.
The Sixers Will Have One Ten Game Losing Streak and One Five Game Win Steak
The Sixers’ schedule is not a favorable one to say the least. The first three months have a variety of opponents that will span from sub-.500 basketball teams to a number of games versus the best teams in the NBA like the Nets, Heat, and Bulls. This is the part of the schedule where the 76ers will have a much easier time finding winnable games with opponents such as the Magic, Raptors, Suns, and Bucks including a very favorable stretch of games from November 27 to December 6. The Sixers will take on the Magic twice, New Orleans, Detroit, and finish off the stretch against the Bobcats. During this stretch of games, the 76ers will go 5-0. That’s right you read it correctly. Five and Oh.
The second half of the season will present the toughest stretch of games for this 76ers team. Many of the best teams in the league will take on the Sixers on multiple occasions during this stretch. Taking a look ahead, the entire month of March, aside from a game against the Magic, will be games against teams that will most certainly be .500 or better including two games each against the Pacers, Knicks, Bulls, and trips out west to take on some of the best Western Conference teams like the Thunder, Spurs, and Rockets. During the month of March, the 76ers will lose ten consecutive games. It’s anyone’s guess as to when the streak will start, but once it begins, it will be a while before it ends.
The Sixers Will Finish Last in Fan Attendance
Philadelphia is home to one of the best fan bases in all of sports. Fans love their sports teams and are not afraid to cheer players when they succeed or boo them when they fail. Winning is the most important thing when it comes to Philadelphia sports and we are proud to say that and support our teams when they are winning. Unfortunately, when a team struggles, fans let them know it and some do not even bother showing up to the games. The Philadelphia 76ers will face this problem this upcoming season.
It will be tough to draw large crowds to the Wells Fargo Center when fans know that the team is going to struggle mightily this year. The team has struggled with attendance issues over the last few seasons, but this will be the year that hits them the hardest. What makes it harder for fans to accept this upcoming season of struggles is that the team had shown glimpses of potential just two years ago when they were within a game of the Eastern Conference Finals. Bringing in Andrew Bynum brought more optimism and support to this team, but that support and optimism went away quickly after Bynum initially hurt his knee and the team finished with another lottery pick.
Rather than show up and boo the struggling team, fans will show their displeasure of tanking by just not showing up to games. Management will struggle to bring fans to the arena and as a result, the team will finish dead last in attendance.
The 76ers Will Finish with the Worst Record and be Awarded the 1st Overall Pick
This final prediction could arguably be considered as a more likely one rather than a bold prediction. The bottom line is that the 76ers will not be very good this season. The roster is full of young, inexperienced players who have never played the significant roles that they are now being charged with. On top of that, the veterans on this team are not all-stars who can carry the load for this team.
By season’s end, the Sixers will have won just thirteen games and will finish with the league’s worst record of 13-69. But fear not Sixers’ fans because the great thing about finishing with the league’s worst record is having the best chance to be awarded the first overall pick. When the NBA lottery takes place at the end of the season, the ping-pong balls will fall in line and award the Sixers with the first overall pick in the loaded 2014 NBA Draft. The team will then be moving in the right direction and begin to have a bright future building around Andrew Wiggins. The thought of that makes this upcoming season’s struggles a lot easier to accept and embrace.