Philadelphia 76ers Season Preview – NBA Predictions
The Philadelphia 76ers made headlines this summer when they jumped into the blockbuster deal that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers. The team was able to compete with most squads last season, but with the acquisition of big man Andrew Bynum, they could move a step closer to the next level in 2013.
Odds to Win (By bovada.lv)
2013 NBA Championship: 50/1
2013 Eastern Conference Championship: 18/1
The 76ers a young team. Following the departure of veteran leaders Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, this organization has gone into full youth mode, but unlike most NBA squads, the Sixers can afford to do just that under the leadership of head coach Doug Collins. Collins is one of the best in the NBA at grooming young talent, and he’s been a viable Coach of the Year candidate ever since his first season with Philly just two years ago.
With Bynum likely to become the team’s best option this season, players such as Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes will be expected to defer to the big man. The key for success, however, is going to be finding a way to make Bynum a No. 1 option without disrupting the chemistry these three established last season. Collins has established himself as a coach who emphasizes movement and teamwork, so as long as everybody buys into the program, he’ll likely put them on a path toward success.
With Iguodala now gone, expect Turner to begin the next phase of his NBA career. The kid is just 23 years old, but having yet to live up to expectations, he’ll finally have a chance to show what he can do this year. Having averaged 9.4 points and 5.8 rebounds off the bench last season, a move to the starting lineup should show just how versatile he can be when given minutes.
Success of the team’s role players is important, but the biggest variable to the upcoming season has to be whether or not Bynum can have the same impact he had in 2012. The seven-footer posted career highs all over the place, and he was a truly dominant force on both ends of the floor. Bynum stayed healthy for the first time in his career, and as a result, he was instantly thrown into the argument for Best Center in the NBA—whether or not he deserves that praise is still up for debate.
Last season was a good year for the Sixers as well. The team went 35-31 on the year, and although they were just an eighth seed in the playoffs, they were able to take advantage of a banged up Chicago Bulls squad and make it to the second round. Offensively, Philadelphia struggled at times, finishing the year with just the 22nd ranked point-per-game offense in the league. Defensively, however, they were one of the more elite squads in the game, holding opponents under 90 points per contest.
Unfortunately for Philly, they’re stuck in a tough Atlantic Division that got even tougher this offseason. The Brooklyn Nets have added Joe Johnson and a healthy Brook Lopez to their lineup, the Boston Celtics have done a great job of rebuilding without tearing apart their roster and the New York Knicks are looking to make some noise with the veterans they’ve brought in. Even the Toronto Raptors are much improved heading into 2013, and the Sixers play three of these four teams in four of their first six games.
Philadelphia has the potential for prominence, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, their success starts and ends with Andrew Bynum. Very few teams nowadays can compete in the championship sense without a big-time star, and in a league that is lacking true centers, the big man has a chance to be the anchor of the team this season.
Without Bynum this team is good; with him, they have the potential to be great. If the man in the middle can remain consistent, and maybe more importantly remain healthy, this is a team that can challenge for home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference. A championship is probably still a few years away, as coach Collins has youth he’s yet to groom, but they’re up-and-coming to say the least, and this could be the season where they officially arrive.