We had media day, the team is practicing together and the preseason has started. It’s time to get fired up about Sixers basketball – or should we?
Better stated, do we legitimately have anything to get fired up about going into this season? If you listen to and believe the people in the organization and the players, we most certainty do…
“We’ve made some really good (off-season) moves (such as trading for shooter Jason Kapono). We did a good job in the draft. Thad (Young has) come along great and very quickly. Lou (Williams is) going to be starting for us (at point guard). We’re the sixth-youngest team in the league. We had the Eastern Conference champions on the edge (in a six-game first-round playoff series). There’s not too much negative that we can say about ourselves.” ~ Andre Iguodala
So the players and the organization feel we aren’t that far away from being an elite team in the Eastern Conference. I personally wouldn’t go that far, but we’ll get to my opinion in a bit.
What about the national media?
What the “Experts” Say
John Hollinger – 42-40, second in Atlantic Division, fifth in Eastern Conference
ESPN Composite Prediction (53 voters) – 39-43 record (tied with Washington and Toronto), 7th place in the Eastern Conference – The difference between 7th place and 9th among the 53 voters is 0.4 of a win.
ESPN Power Rankings (Mark Stein) – 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 9th in the Eastern Conference, 17th in the NBA
NBA.com Power Rankings (John Schuhmann) – 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 9th in the Eastern Conference, 18th in the NBA
Hoopsworld Composite Prediction – (5 voters) – 3.4 place in the Atlantic Division
Hoopsworld Power Rankings – 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 10th in the Eastern Conference, 19th in the NBA
Inside Hoops Power Rankings – 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 9th in the Eastern Conference, 17th in the NBA
Wages of Wins – (Davide Berri) – The Best Case scenario is that Brand returns to what we saw two years ago and Iguodala and Dalembert remain productive (and maybe Holiday is not as bad as his college numbers suggest). If that happens, the Sixers will get about 35 wins from their top three players and the team might make the playoffs. If Brand returns to form they get close to 40. So it is still the same argument. The team needs Brand to recover to be what they were last year. The Worst Case scenario, though, is that Brand doesn’t return to form. Given what’s left on this roster, the Sixers will then struggle to get past 30 wins.
Basketball-Reference Blog – 38.7 wins, 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 8th in the Eastern Conference, 18th in the NBA
The Experts Average Finish for the Sixers:
- Record: 40-42
- Atlantic Division: 3
- Eastern Conference: 8
- NBA: 18
What the Sixers Bloggers Say
Finish: 2nd in Atlantic, 4th in the Eastern Conference. Knocked out in the second round of the playoffs, probably by the Cavs.
A healthy, motivated Brand more than makes up for Andre Miller’s departure. The Princeton offense helps raise their efficiency in the half court, but it’s the defense that really lifts the team up overall. Decent start, strong finish.
Finish: 2nd in Atlantic, 5th in the East, losing the the second round to the Cavs.
I would have them a little higher, but I think they’re going to take a little while to learn the offense. Expect their best basketball to come post-All star break.
Finish: 3rd in Atlantic, 8th in the Eastern Conference. 18th in the NBA
Good enough to be mediocre. If all things fall right (Thad develops into the 20 ppg scorer he’s capable of, Lou steps up his game, Brand comes back healthy, pieces fit in Eddie Jordan’s system), they could challenge for 45-50 wins with good defense, but we’ll lack the dynamic offensive player capable of attracting defensive attention, which will prevent them from being consistently good in half court sets, and prevent them from really challenging in the Eastern Conference.
Finish: 2nd in the Atlantic Division (behind Boston), 7th in Eastern Conference (behind Orlando, Cleveland, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami)
No great expectations this year, maybe this will be the key not to be disappointed at the end. I think the best thing would be to see the young guys continuing to progress, getting Brand back at a good level and the team playing some fun basketball. 2010 in my book will be mainly a step towards 2011, when we will (hopefully) be major players in the FA market.
Finish: 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 9th in the Eastern Conference and 22nd in the NBA
While I feel the Sixers are close to getting this franchise headed in the right direction, I see a step back coming this season. Learning a new offense is not easy and that’s especially true of the Princeton offense which is more complicated then most. That combined with the reintroduction of Elton Brand to the lineup could make for a beginning to this year that mirror or be worse then their very slow start in 2008-09. That will spell disaster in an Eastern Conference that has gotten significantly better in the off season and thus doom the 2009-10 Sixers to missing the playoffs. I also still believe that not adding another scorer in the backcourt (combo or two-guard) will come back to haunt the Sixers.
Finish: 2nd in the Atlantic Division, 5th in the Eastern Conference and 16th in the NBA. Second round loss in playoffs.
The Sixers weren’t able to do much over the offseason because of financial constraints that will hit their books next season.
The biggest move was probably the one they weren’t able to make: resigning Andre Miller or at least a sign and trade to bring in a veteran PG. Lou Williams has to learn how to play the point and learn fast. The additions of Jason Kapono and Rodney Carney should provide some much needed depth to the bench. In addition, Jason Smith will be an underrated addition back to the roster after a knee injury.
Of course, the big question mark is what will Elton Brand bring to the table? Will it be the all-star caliber player we know he is or will it be the rusty, slow player we saw at the beginning of last season?
At the very least, we can expect Brand to add some stability to the front court and a defensive presence that was lacking at time last season. Overall, this team should take a step forward but is not quite ready to hang with the Cavs and Celtics of the world.
Finish: 2.5 in the Atlantic Division, 7th in the Eastern Conference, 15th in the NBA
The Bloggers Average Finish for the Sixers:
- Record: 43-39
- Atlantic Division: 2
- Eastern Conference: 6
- NBA: 18
What Do I Think
You can’t just come up with a prediction in the bubble that is Philadelphia and being a 76ers fan. It’s important to consider and evaluate both the hometown feel and the national opinion when former my own.
The national media probably doesn’t know as much about the Sixers as we do as loyal fans, Sixers bloggers and wannabe analysts. What they do have is a broader perspective and more access to the NBA as a whole which is worth considering.
Their opinion could be based on the idea that maybe the Sixers just stink. They don’t care to learn enough about the team. And/or they think the Sixers may be just-okay-to-pretty-good, but the rest of the conference and league is better by x wins, degrees, points whatever.
It’s all worth noting.
As for the local bloggers and people close to the team, we are biased at both ends of the spectrum. We have the homers who no matter what the history or results still remain overly optimistic. We also have the stereotypical Philly sports follower who is always hard and down on the team because of our past experiences with mediocrity. Even if there is real reason for optimism theirs will be strongly tapered by the painful recent memory of disappointment.
I personally am probably in between and depending on the day will be at both ends.
I desperately want to get optimistic about this team.
I was last off-season when we got Brand and Speights and really thought this team could be enjoyable to watch. Then Cheeks coached poorly. The players played poorly, and the big money guy couldn’t stay on the court long enough to believe he would make a difference even if he was healthy.
As for prediction go you have a lot of them above. We will save our full commentary on the upcoming season for the preview. But here is my current thoughts…
The Sixers will take a step forward, in the form of a few more wins.
They should be slightly above .500 with a rejuvenated and healthy Brand, improved play from their young guys, and a full, and not that bad looking, group of reserves.
There are a number of circumstances that need to happen even for this little improvement to occur, let alone anything more.
Because of that my optimism is there but seeping out slowly. I need to see them play with my own eyes. Shallow reports from the journalists in this town isn’t enough for me right now.
What Do You Say?
As always we turn it to you. Now I want you to do the same thing all the bloggers and experts did.