Winners and Losers from Week 1 of Philadelphia 76ers' Preseason
The Philadelphia 76ers have played in their first two preseason games, and are coming away from them with surprising results.
Believe it or not, the Sixers don't look half bad.
It was hard to get a read on Philadelphia after the first game ended with a 106-104 victory over Bilbao, a Spanish club. You just can't put too much emphasis on playing against a European team. A 103-99 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Philly's second game, ended up giving fans a much better representation of what to expect.
They were only preseasons games, but the Sixers looked like they might not be a walkover during the 2013-14 regular season. In fact, Philadelphia looked like they could win more games than people originally thought.
Here's a look at some of Philly's winners and losers after the franchise's first two preseason games.
Winner: Evan Turner
We're two games into the preseason and Evan Turner is playing like a No. 2 draft pick. Don't cheer too loudly, though. Read the first sentence one more time if you need to.
Philadelphia has only played two preseason games.
That being said, the new Turner looks like a completely new player. He's gone through successful stretches before where he had Philly fans wondering if he had turned the corner, but his play was always accompanied by a look of uncertainty.
Turner wasn't trying to be successful, he was trying to not make a mistake.
Me saying that he wasn't trying to be successful might sound absolutely ridiculous to some because of course he wanted to be successful. The problem was how Turner continually played like there was a ghost looking over his shoulder.
He brought a level of fear with him to the floor every night, and it plagued his game.
The 2013-14 version of Turner looks comfortable. He seems to be at ease with what's taking place on the court. It's slightly ironic since the Sixers are in a state of change with a new general manager and head coach, yet it looks as though a change has come.
We'll find out if he's turning into the real deal, or if this is just another phase.
Loser: Lavoy Allen
Lavoy Allen didn't play in Philadelphia's first five days of training camp and missed the team's first preseason game because of a lingering knee injury. He might be a professional basketball player, but it doesn't mean that he's necessarily in professional basketball shape.
Not being able to play until the Sixers second preseason game already has Allen playing catch-up. It appears as though new head coach Brett Brown has noticed as he's made comments saying that Allen's conditioning isn't where it needs to be.
Preseason games are in place for the players to get into shape, but it looks like Allen is further behind than most other people.
You don't want to see that with a third-year pro.
His situation doesn't get any better when you look at his performance on the floor. His biggest warning sign was only securing three rebounds in 19 minutes of play. Compare his play to somebody like Hollis Thompson—a 6'8", 206-pound small forward—who grabbed seven rebounds in only 15 minutes, and you start to see that Allen has some work to do.
Luckily, Allen has a bit of time before he really needs to be ready.
The first week of the preseason has shown us he isn't there yet.
Winner: Tony Wroten
There was some talk about what Tony Wroten was doing in summer pro-am games. Videos of him crossing people over and finishing at the rim were starting to get some looks online.
How well do little basketball games over the summer really translate to the NBA, though?
Apparently better than some of us once thought.
Wroten went from just another player on Philadelphia's roster to having the possibility of becoming one of the Sixers impact players during the 2013-14 season. He combined for 36 points and shot 16-18 from the free-throw line in both games. Going 4-9 from the three-point line was also a nice touch.
As surprising as his performances were, it still wasn't all roses and candy. Wroten's shot selection was questionable at best, and he averaged 3.5 turnovers in the two games.
Those minor problems can be overlooked at this moment because of the positives he's shown. It'll be exciting to see if his early performances translate into the regular season.
Loser: James Anderson
James Anderson isn't in the "loser" category because of his poor play.
He's in this section because of Wroten's success.
Anderson is locked in as Philadelphia's starting shooting guard, but his spot could be in jeopardy if Wroten continues to play at a high level.
One of these two players will end up being Philadelphia's sixth man. They each have the ability to put points on the board, it's just a matter of which one will be a better impact player in the Sixers' second unit.
At this point, it looks like Wroten fits better coming off the bench. He is a bit more active and aggressive when looking for his jumper—two necessary attributes for a sixth man—and looks like he'll have more success as a role player than a starter.
Still though, Anderson needs to be more aware of the fact that his spot as a starter is only guaranteed for as long as he's playing well. Against the Thunder, he shot 2-8 from the field and finished one away from the team high in turnovers with three. Continuing to play at this level will have people asking for Wroten to start.
Anderson isn't doing too badly, he's just not playing as well as the guy next in line for his spot.
Winner: Michael Carter-Williams
The biggest question coming into the season was if Michael Carter-Williams could immediately come in and lead the Sixers.
If his performance in the Orlando Pro Summer League was a step in the wrong direction, then what he did in Europe got him back on track.
Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote an article about Carter-Williams' preseason growth. Evan Turner had some positive things to say about the young point guard:
The first few times we played and went to training camp, he barely said anything. If he did, he didn't really speak up.
(In Europe) Not only was he vocal in certain situations and certain plays in the game, you messed up, he dug into you the way you are supposed to. It wasn't for himself. It was for the team.
A point guard's job is to command the team, so being vocal is crucial for Carter-Williams. Turner's quote also makes it sound like some of his teammates are starting to believe in him as well.
Trading away Jrue Holiday was a risky move for new general manager Sam Hinkie. He got rid of a proven player in hopes of getting pieces for Philadelphia's future.
Carter-Williams certainly has the potential to succeed as one of those pieces.
Loser: The Philadelphia 76ers
It is definitely too early to say for sure, but...could the Sixers be better than we thought?
Barely beating a Spanish basketball team made it look like Philadelphia is exactly who the majority of Sixers fans think they are.
A bad team.
However, competing for 48 straight minutes with a team like the Thunder and only losing by four says something completely different. That game made Philly look like a team destined for around 28 wins.
28 wins isn't anywhere close to a high win total, but it would also be very far away from the Sixers finishing in last place.
Getting rid of Holiday and not making any significant moves in free agency was a conscious decision by Sam Hinkie. The goal was for a poor 2013-14 season to result in getting great draft picks in the loaded 2014 NBA draft.
Hinkie's idea won't go as planned if the team manages to consistently play as well as they did against the Thunder in their second preseason game.
Winning a healthy amount of games won't be good for Philadelphia's future.