Projecting Philadelphia 76ers' Opening Night Starters and Rotation
The Philadelphia 76ers have been one of the more active teams this summer, but none of the moves they've made have done much to engender excitement among the fanbase.
At the very least, the Sixers appear to be much deeper than they were in 2011-12. Head coach Doug Collins went with a nine man rotation during the playoffs, but it wouldn't be all that surprising to see him go at least 10 players deep for much of the season.
Obviously, with the start of training camp more than two months away, there's a lot that can change between now and then. That said, let's take an early look at the 76ers' projected opening night starting lineup and 10 man rotation.
Point Guard: Jrue Holiday
Doug Collins has given Jrue Holiday a lot of freedom over the past two seasons, but even he knows that something has to give. There's no question about it: Holiday has to finally take the next step in his evolution as a point guard.
Last year, when the team expected him to have a breakout season, Holiday actually regressed in several major offensive categories (points per game, assists per game, rebounds per game). Holiday has all of the tools to be a top 10 point guard in the league, so now it's time for him to play up to his potential.
Shooting Guard: Evan Turner
It hasn't been all peaches and cream for the No. 2 draft pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, but Evan Turner's hard work is finally paying off. Turner will be the starting shooting guard for the 76ers come opening night, and the 23-year-old will look to shine in his third NBA season.
It took a while for Collins to gain confidence in Turner, but the 6'7" swingman is now in his rightful place in the backcourt alongside Jrue Holiday. Turner and Holiday are clearly the keystones for the Sixers' future, so it's imperative that they play together as much as possible. However, given the fact that Philadelphia lacks a decent backup point guard, Turner will probably log a fair amount of minutes with the second unit.
Small Forward: Andre Iguodala
Less than three months removed from the Olympics, team captain Andre Iguodala will lead the 76ers onto the court once the curtain rises on opening night.
Most have finally accepted the fact that Iguodala isn't a prolific scorer, despite his seemingly unlimited athletic gifts. What Iguodala happens to be is a lockdown perimeter defender who fills the stat sheet virtually every time he steps onto the court.
Iguodala wasn't named to the all-star team by accident last season: He's one of the league's most versatile talents, and will likely be Philadelphia's most consistent player in 2012-13.
Power Forward: Spencer Hawes
The frontcourt is where things get interesting for the 76ers.
Head coach Doug Collins has already committed to Spencer Hawes as his starting power forward next season, and the decision hasn't gone over all that well in the City of Brotherly Love.
From a purely offensive perspective, Hawes isn't terrible (13.9 PPG and 10.6 RPG per-36 minutes last season). But the 7-foot Hawes was dreadful covering centers last year (361st in the NBA in points per possession allowed, according to Synergy Sports), so forcing him to defend more athletic players at the power forward position is nothing short of puzzling.
Last season, Hawes played exactly zero minutes at power forward. And zero minutes at power forward the season before that, which seems entirely appropriate as Collins' decision to start Hawes at the 4 position makes zero sense.
Center: Kwame Brown
When Kwame Brown was drafted by the Washington Wizards back in 2001, his first NBA coach was current Sixers' head coach Doug Collins. While Brown didn't exactly thrive during the two years he spent under Collins, the two are reunited again in Philly for what many hope to be a much improved second act.
"He's coming to a place where he feels good about," said Collins in regards to Brown. "I think we're going to see the best of what Kwame has to offer."
11 years into his NBA career, 76ers fans are wondering if they've already seen the best of what Brown has to offer. The 6'11" center averaged 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for the Wizards back in 2003-04, but hasn't even flirted with those types of numbers since then. Even so, Collins has Brown penciled into the team's opening night starting lineup: A move that appears to be based more on hope than anything else.
Sixth Man: Nick Young
Combo guard Lou Williams took his talents (and his team-leading 14.9 PPG) to Atlanta, forcing the 76ers to acquire an explosive scorer for the second unit.
Enter Nick "Swaggy P" Young.
Young and Williams have different builds and skill sets, but Young will be called upon to fill Williams' shoes as an instant offense type of player for the 76ers next season. While asking him to lead the team in scoring may be a stretch, Young is more than capable of chipping in 13 to 15 points per game.
Reserve: Thaddeus Young
Back in May, Doug Collins told Thaddeus Young to gain an additional 10 pounds this summer, presumably to play more at the power forward position. But with Spencer Hawes starting at the 4, look for Young to reprise his role from last year as a jack-of-all-trades reserve.
Even with very few plays actually run for him, Young found a way to average 12.8 PPG and 5.2 RPG last season. And if the Hawes/Brown starting experiment fails, don't be surprised to see Young starting at power forward at some point during the season.
Reserve: Lavoy Allen
Lavoy Allen was a pleasant surprise for Philadelphia last season, and he's already carved out a decent-sized niche in the team's rotation off of the bench. Aside from Elton Brand, he was the team's best interior defender in the playoffs, and Allen showed no fear as he was often matched up against the likes of Kevin Garnett and Carlos Boozer.
Allen won't be called upon to score all that much, but he has a decent offensive game to go along with his solid defensive skills. Allen averaged 15 minutes per contest last year, and may push that to 20 MPG in 2012-13.
Reserve: Dorell Wright
With the glut of wing players that the Sixers have, Dorell Wright won't play anywhere close to the 27 MPG that he averaged last season. However, Wright will be the team's designated shooter off of the bench—a role that was previously occupied by Jodie Meeks at the end of last season.
At 6'7", the 26-year-old Wright is far more versatile than Meeks, who struggled to create his own shot. Wright can actually handle the ball a little bit, and his above-average rebounding ability will be a nice boost to the team's second unit.
Reserve: Nik Vucevic
There's no question that Nik Vucevic is in Doug Collins' dog house. The 6'10" forward started out well last season, but he was basically ineffective on both ends of the floor by the time the playoffs rolled around.
Even so, he's still the second best big man off of the bench for the Sixers, and he should get his fair share of the reserve center minutes behind Kwame Brown. If Vucevic doesn't assert himself early in the year, however, he may find himself on the trade block.