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Thursday, September 20, 2012

SDH's 2012/2013 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 8. Philadelphia 76ers

Overall Win/Loss Record :  35-31 third place Atlantic Division



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Projected 2012/2013 Finish

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Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank
  • Points Scored: 93.6 (22nd)
  • Points Allowed: 89.4 (3rd)
  • Team FG%: .448 (15th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .427 (3rd)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.2 (7th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 43.7 (25th)




Returning Individual Statistical Leaders
  • Scoring: Jrue Holiday (13.5)
  • Rebounds per game:  Spencer Hawes (7.3)
  • Minutes per game:  Jrue Holiday (33.8)
  • Assists per game:  Jrue Holiday (4.5)
  • Steals per game:   Jrue Holiday (1.6)
  • Blocked Shots per game:   Spencer Hawes (1.3)


Projected Starters Based on Last Season’s Performance, Veteran Seniority and Projected Impact


Key Reserves Based on Last Season’s Performances, Veteran Seniority and Potential Impact.
  1. Jason Richardson (G/F)
  2. Nick Young (G/F)
  3. Dorell Wright (G/F)
  4. Lavoy Allen (PF)
  5. Kwame Brown (C/F)


2012/2013 Projection:  50-32, second place in the Atlantic Division; it’s time to get excited in the city of brotherly love.

Analysis:

For the first time in more than two decades the Philadelphia 76ers has an All Star franchise center to build a championship team around.  This center is not only considered as the second best overall in the league behind top big man Dwight Howard, but also brings a rather impressive resume that includes three NBA Finals appearances and two championships to go with them.  Andrew Bynum’s arrival, despite the numerous questions concerning his health and his maturity, has finally given Sixers fans something to look forward to after countless years of disappointment and being mired in mediocrity.  Now the bar has been raised as expectations will be higher for a team that has earned the title of “underdog favorite” for the last two years as finally they have an opportunity to grab the NBA lime light once again.  The same team that shocked many observers last season reaching within one game of the Eastern Conference Finals will finally have its chance to take over the spotlight for the first time in what can be seen as ages.

Unfortunately, the arrival of Andrew Bynum can be considered as both a blessing and curse for 76ers coach Doug Collins, who has pretty much coasted under the radar with his team who were low on talent, but high in effort.  Now much more pressure will be on him to not only coach this overachieving team to the post season, which he has done masterfully the last two years, but to coach a team that will be under the microscope as well.  Collins will not only have something to prove to fans in Philly, the media and the league, but he will have the challenge of assuring the happiness and compliance of his new prized acquisition.  Once the season ends, Bynum will be an unrestricted free agent and it will be up Collins and the front office to convince him to remain the face of the franchise for years to come.

So much will be riding on this season not only concerning the future of the franchise, but quite possibly the future of Collins’ career as coach of the 76ers as well.  Collins has always had the pristine reputation as a coach able to raise a team to play well enough to make the playoffs; however, he has never been considered a coach that can bring a team to an NBA title.  Usually he would coach a team for two or three seasons and would wear out his welcome soon after once his players have started to tune him out.   Many have criticized him as being more interested in making himself look good, padding his coaching record enough to assure himself a well enough reputation to garner interest from an NBA team.  He is more flash than substance, all sizzle but no steak, and more in it for himself than the good of the team that he coaches. 

Last season Collins had the luxury of not having to deal with a pre-Madonna star player with a huge ego making it easier to keep his players on the same page.  Although there were grumblings amongst some players about their inconsistencies concerning playing time, he basically kept that team in line.  Now he will have to deal a high profile NBA All Star with impeccable credentials, and who is on the last year of his current contract making it very difficult for Collins to assert dominance over.  He will have his front office watching him very closely and breathing down his neck; the slightest misstep can mean him leaving the coaching seat in Philly and returning to the broadcast booth.  So in effect, the arrival of Andrew Bynum can have great potential for success for Philly or become a disaster of epic proportions as things may go quite bad in a hurry.

Nonetheless, despite all the concerns of potential fallout, fans on the 76ers have not been so excited for this upcoming season to start already; however, with this excitement should come a bit of cautious optimism.  Here is a city with a proud basketball heritage that has suffered ongoing disappointments and struggles for close to three decades.  Never since the departure of Julius “Dr. J” Irving have Sixers fans been able to celebrate their team’s glory or claim a team that continually strived for excellence.  Perhaps the acquisition of Andrew Bynum can usher in a new culture of excellence that propelled his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers to championship glory.  Unfortunately for Philly, Bynum at this particular moment should be considered a “rental” as he will be an unrestricted free agent once the season ends.  And with numerous teams that will be under the salary cap, the Sixers will be hard pressed to convince such a talented player to spend the best years of his career in the city of brotherly love.