The Philadelphia 76ers appear to be one of the best up-and-coming teams in the Eastern Conference. However, these six players will be major causes to either the Sixers' success or disappointment in the 2012-2013 season.
These players are not necessarily the best six players on the Sixers, but rather the six most pivotal to the team's success in this upcoming season. These players will not only have the responsibility to produce on the court, but they will also be responsible for helping the Sixers build a strong team chemistry.
After last year's playoff run and the addition of star center Andrew Bynum, expectations are high for the young Sixers team. They will no longer sneak up on teams, as they now have a legitimate star.
It will be interesting to see how Doug Collins handles this group of very different personalities, and also to see how much they grow as a team as the year progresses.
Jrue Holiday is the single most pivotal player for the Sixers this season. If Holiday turns into a top 10 point guard in the NBA, the 76ers can rise to the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
Almost every basketball writer agrees, including Espn's John Hollinger, that Holiday has the potential to be a star. However, whether it be the system or his own doing, Holiday has not progressed over the past two seasons.
Sometimes it seems like Jrue is too quick to defer to other players, rather than looking for his own shot. Another aspect of his game that is holding him back, but can be easily fixed, is the fact that he rarely shoots free throws. Holiday posted a .14 free throw rate (free throws attempted divided by field goals attempted), which is abysmal.
If Jrue Holiday can mature and get to the free-throw line more often, the 76ers can be very good this season.
Jason Richardson was essentially a throw-in piece in the Andre Iguodala for Andrew Bynum trade, but his role on this team will be very important to the Sixers' success. Richardson is the oldest player on the projected roster and will be relied upon to be a leader for the Sixers.
Although Andrew Bynum and Jrue Holiday are the team's two best players, neither of them are natural leaders, so that leaves Richardson to take on that role. Doug Collins will rely on him to help out the younger players on the team, which makes Richardson pivotal to their success.
Jason Richardson will also be the Sixers' starting shooting guard, so he will be expected to contribute both on and off the court.
Andrew Bynum is an obvious selection for this list, because he is the Sixers' first superstar since Allen Iverson's first tenure with the team. Bynum gives Philadelphia fans hope for the Sixers' season, which hasn't happened in a very long time.
However, Bynum does have some question marks. First, he is recovering from non-invasive knee surgery and has had issues with injuries in the past. The Sixers need Bynum to be 100 percent healthy this season, and if he is not, it will create a major hurdle for the team's goal of taking the next step.
In addition, Bynum has had some attitude problems in the past. Doug Collins is known for being a coach who is tough on his players, so it will be interesting to see how Bynum reacts to Collins' criticisms.
Overall, Bynum is so pivotal to the 76ers' success this year that if he is completely healthy and dominant the team can finish second in the Eastern Conference. However, if he is not healthy or has issues with coach Collins then the team could slip all the way to seventh or eighth in the East.
Spencer Hawes had the best season of his pro career for the 76ers last season. However, some of his flaws were put in the spotlight during the Sixers' playoff run.
Hawes was simply overmatched when he attempted to guard Kevin Garnett, which forced Doug Collins to play him just 23 minutes per game during the conference semifinals. With the addition of Andrew Bynum, coach Doug Collins decided to move Spencer Hawes to power forward in hopes of giving him a better chance against the smaller position.
Hawes' offense is valuable to the Sixers' success next season, but the only way that he will be able to stay on the court is if he improves on the defensive end of the floor.
The No. 2 overall selection in the 2010 NBA draft, Evan Turner has had an up and down career. However, in Turner's first season as the starting shooting guard, he had a promising year for the 76ers.
If Turner can continue to improve his jump shot, he will be a good player for the Sixers next season. In addition, Turner and Jrue Holiday have the potential to be one of the best backcourts in the entire NBA, which is scary for opposing defenses that already have to worry about Andrew Bynum.
Turner's improvement is pivotal to the Sixers becoming an elite team.
Lavoy Allen, the 50th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, was one of the biggest surprises in the entire NBA last season. Allen played a key role in the playoffs for the Sixers, often guarding the opposing team's best big man.
During the Boston Celtics' series, Spencer Hawes simply could not guard Kevin Garnett so Allen was asked to come in to guard Garnett and did an admiral job against the veteran. If Hawes has similar struggles against power forwards this season, look for Allen to receive increased minutes.
Allen's defensive skills will be pivotal to the 76ers' success next season.