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Biggest Mysteries for the Philadelphia 76ers Heading into Camp

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Biggest Mysteries for the Philadelphia 76ers Heading into Camp
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
What will Brown do with Philly's offense and defense?

October 1, 2013 marks the start of NBA training camps, and like other teams, the Philadelphia 76ers go into camp with some big mysteries.

Training camp means something different to each organization. There are teams who have been together for years and know what they're going to get from one another. For them, camp is about fine-tuning specific details that will make the season run smoother.

Philadelphia doesn't fall into this list of teams.

The Sixers are almost completely new. Every role from their general manager to their head coach to their best player is filled by someone different from last season. For teams like Philly, training camp turns into a time to evaluate talent and learn to play together.

Here's a look at some Sixers mysteries as they head into training camp.

 

Brett Brown's offensive system and defensive scheme

You might fall under the list of people who didn't like Doug Collins, but you couldn't say that the Sixers weren't one of the NBA's strongest defensive teams during his three years with the franchise. Philly went from being ranked as the No. 18 scoring defense in the year prior to Collins' arrival No. 12, No. 3 and No. 9 in his years that followed.

Part of the reason for this is how he changed the atmosphere surrounding defense. The players went from anticipating their own offense while playing defense to making defense a priority.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Collins was a defensive mastermind.

Collins only lasted three years, but his philosophy in this area was spot-on.

Brown is going to need to establish similarly important changes. The majority of Philadelphia's core players are 25 or younger. They aren't the most talented, but there are a lot of athletes on this team who would be great in an up-tempo system.

Brown was part of a smart, fundamentally sound but slower basketball system when he was an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. They played that way because of their personnel.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Brown must be more aggressive with his offense.

It'll be up to Brown to adapt the Sixers' offense into something more suitable for the players involved.

As for defense, Brown needs to either learn lessons from what Collins did or take a new approach with Philadelphia.

San Antonio has consistently been a great team for a long time, but it hasn't been because of its defense. The last time the Spurs finished inside the top 10 in scoring defense was during the 2009-10 season. Whatever the team did since wasn't stopping the opposition too much.

This aspect of Brown's coaching arsenal will need to be overhauled quickly. It is one of the few ways the Sixers will see any success this year.

 

How much progress Michael Carter-Williams will make

Those who watched Carter-Williams during his time in the Orlando Pro Summer League were subjected to some incredibly inconsistent play. He would have stretches of promise, only to have longer stretches of head-scratching plays.

One of his most important weaknesses was his shooting. He shot 23-85 from the field over the course of five games. That includes shooting 3-19 from three-point range.

No, I did not make those numbers up.

Don't be fooled by the highlights: Carter-Williams missed a lot of shots.

Shooting 27.1 percent from the field and 15.8 percent from deep raises major warning flags, even if it's only in the summer league.

Carter-Williams will not be able to be a great player, let alone survive in the league if his shooting doesn't improve.

With that being said, they were five games over the summer. It clearly isn't a large enough sample size to get a clear taste of how capable he is as a shooter, so only time will tell.

The good news is that the Sixers will be able to gauge his improvement as the season goes on. Shooting is an easy area to measure.

 

Which 2014 NBA prospects will shine in college this season

This might sound like some kind of joke, but it's a mystery that the Sixers would love to clear up as quickly as possible.

Philadelphia has the potential of getting two lottery picks in the 2014 NBA draft. The Sixers not making the playoffs would guarantee one lottery pick, and the New Orleans Pelicans not making the postseason and getting a pick outside of the top six would guarantee the other.

Philly pretty much has its own lottery pick sealed up, so it's up to the Pelicans from there.

Hearing that the Sixers could end up having the worst record in the league doesn't sound too glamorous from afar, but it would guarantee a top-four pick in one of the NBA's best draft classes in some time.

Sixers fans can only dream at this point.

A player like Andrew Wiggins comes around every 10 years or so. He has video game-like athleticism coupled with a smooth shooting motion and high motor. When it comes to basketball, there just isn't much that Wiggins can't do.

Other prospects like Julius Randle, Jabari Parker and Dante Exum could end up being superstars in their own right.

The bottom line is that the star quality in this year's class is out of this world.

Now, there's no guarantee that the Sixers either finish last or get the No. 1 pick, but the prospect of the No. 1 pick is incredibly exciting. It's also what new general manager Sam Hinkie was hoping for when he unloaded Philadelphia's best player, Jrue Holiday, for Nerlens Noel and a draft pick.

Which players end up having a ridiculous college basketball season will be important to Philadelphia, Especially because there is almost no way that the Sixers won't end up with a high draft pick.

The only question is, which college players will shine?

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