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2011-12 Regular Season: 35-31, 3rd in Atlantic (No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs)
Key Acquisitions: C Andrew Bynum, G Nick Young, G Jason Richardson, F Dorell Wright, C Kwame Brown
Key Departures: F/C Elton Brand, G/F Andre Iguodala, F Nikola Vucevic, G Louis Williams
2012 Draft Picks: F/C Arnett Moultrie (No. 27 overall, via MIA), F Maurice Harkless (No. 15 overall, traded to ORL in Dwight Howard deal)
Season Outlook: The Sixers lost a ton of talent, including players who were integral to their success over the past two seasons under Doug Collins. But sometimes you have to mix things up to take the next step, and the Sixers did that in two ways by acquiring Andrew Bynum in the Howard deal.
They cleared up playing time for Thaddeus Young, moved Spencer Hawes into a more Pau Gasol-esque role of being an off-the-ball shooter and got Bynum, one of the league's budding stars.
No doubt the loss of AI hurts. So does losing Williams, who was often the team's leading scorer. But upgrading the guard position by getting Richardson and Young, both high-volume shooters and scorers, gives Collins more room to play with his lineup.
Don't forget about Evan Turner, who enters that pivotal third year as the No. 1 option on offense behind Bynum. For the Sixers to maintain their success and also jump ahead of those three teams in the division, they'll have to continue to rely on defense, but they now have some offensive weapons to play with.
The depth at point guard is a little suspect, but I think we'll see a midseason trade for a backup who is unhappy somewhere. Bottom line, the Sixers gave up one of the league's top three defenders for one of the league's top three rim defenders, not to mention Bynum is coming into his own as a low-post threat.
If the Sixers want to take that next leap, it won't be on the shoulders of Bynum. Teams will eventually start double-teaming him, and that's when Turner, Hawes and Jrue Holliday will have to step up.
Collins has been waiting for two years for the former No. 2 overall pick to take the reins on offense, but not in a way that slows Philly down. He showed flashes as both a distributor and scorer last year, but the 9.3 points needs to go way up, and I believe it will as the 76ers become the league's surprise contender.
Projected Record: 52-30
Philly will grind out some tough games on the road against better opponents, and take care of who they are supposed to beat.
The Doug Collins-Andrew Bynum dynamic should be an interesting one, because the last time Collins coached a high profile player (Michael Jordan in 1986-1989), it didn't end great for the duo.
However, Collins is older, Bynum will be "the man" in Philly and it's time he grew up, anyway. This trade puts the Sixers on the fast track, and it shows in their record—which should secure home-court advantage in the East through the first round.