Pleasant Surprises from Philadelphia 76ers' Early Slate of Games

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Pleasant Surprises from Philadelphia 76ers' Early Slate of Games
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
How great has Michael Carter-Williams been thus far?

Well, most of us probably didn't expect the Philadelphia 76ers to come out of the gate with so much success.

Coming up with only a couple of pleasant surprises over the course of Philly's early slate of games is pretty difficult. There are just so many positive things taking place within the Sixers organization.

Spencer Hawes averaging 16.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game has been magnificent. He doesn't look like someone who's used to being a role player. Instead, he looks like a starting center who has consistently outperformed almost every center that he's faced.

Oh yeah, how about Evan Turner? He's only putting up 23.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 49.1 percent. He's doing his best to make Philadelphia question if they want to end up moving him to another team or holding on to him.

The bottom line is that the Sixers are playing significantly better than people believed they would, and it's been quite fun to watch.

Here's a look at some more pleasant surprises from the beginning of Philadelphia's NBA 2013-14 season. 

 

Michael Carter-Williams

It's incredibly early to tell, but the Sixers might have gotten the best player in the 2013 NBA draft by drafting Michael Carter-Williams.

Questions regarding his ability to both shoot and score the basketball were in full effect come draft time, but he's done his best to calm all concerns. Carter-Williams' shot-selection has been a little bit questionable—his 38.9 shooting percentage is evidence of that—however, he's proved that he is capable of shooting the long ball.

Not many people would have guessed that he would be averaging 39.5 percent from three-point range, yet he's doing just that. Not only has he knocked a good amount of them down, but his shooting motion and confidence level have both looked fantastic throughout the team's first couple of games.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Keeping his turnover numbers down will be important to continued success.

The question now becomes will Carter-Williams hit the rookie wall? If he does, then when will it happen?

He is easily the early favorite for Rookie of the Year. Averaging 17.4 points, 7.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 3.0 turnovers far exceeds any kind of expectations that people had for him.

There's no need to sugarcoat it, it's going to be difficult for him to maintain all of these numbers.

Still though, Carter-Williams has proved that he belongs as the Sixers starting point guard and is one of the league's most exciting young point guards.

That's more than good enough for right now.

 

Playing Style

Let's start this section off by taking a look at some numbers from the Sixers' past three seasons:

Season Points Per Game (NBA Rank) Possessions Per Game (NBA Rank) Fast-break Points Per Game (NBA Rank)
2010-11 98.3 (No. 19) 95.3 (No. 16) 17.4 (No. 3)
2011-12 92.3 (No. 25) 92.7 (No. 28) 15.2 (No. 8)
2012-13 93.2 (No. 29) 94.3 (No. 23) 12.8 (No. 17)

The 2010-11 season was the first of former head coach Doug Collins' with the Sixers and you can tell that the team got off to a pretty good offensive start.

You've got to love seeing Evan Turner getting out and finishing in transition.

It was pretty much downhill from there.

They slowly got away from running the floor and getting out in transition, and it ended up hurting their possessions per game. The more possessions that a team has, the more chances they have to score the basketball. Possessions per game is a good way of telling if a team plays in a more uptempo or slowed down offense.

Here's a look at how this year's team compares to those of years past:

Season Points Per Game (NBA Rank) Possessions Per Game (NBA Rank) Fast-break Points Per Game (NBA Rank)
2013-14 105.4 (No. 6) 106.1 (No. 1) 17.8 (No. 6)

New head coach Brett Brown's arrival as the team's new head coach has clearly made a big difference in playing style. He's taken advantage of Philly's younger and more athletic team by getting out and running. Averaging 106.1 possessions per game is incredible.

Here's a great example of Philly pushing the ball and scoring early in a possession.

This faster game also leads to the opponent getting more possessions, but at least Brown is using his players to the best of their abilities.

It's great to see the Sixers finally get out and run.

We'll see how long they can succeed with this playing style.

 

Wins

As great as tanking and ending up with the best chance to get the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft sounds, seeing the Sixers win still feels fantastic.

Who's been the most surprising Sixers player up to this point in the season?

Submit Vote vote to see results

I've been an advocate of losing now in order to get better in the future. The 2014 draft class looks like it could be one of the more special ones, and it would be great to see the Sixers with one of the most talented of those players.

With that said, I go into complete fan mode when I see Philadelphia with more points than its opponents at the end of game. Every win hurts the team's chances for ending the year with the league's worst record, but it's hard to think about the end of the year when the present is so exciting.

Just look at a list of who Philly has beaten. Teams like the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets are all being talked about as title contenders and each have fallen to the Sixers.

How can you not love that if you're a Philly fan?!

We've barely cracked the surface of what's to come, so it's way too early to think that Philadelphia will keep up this level of play.

The point is to savor it while it's here, because seeing the team win has been a blast to watch.

And there's no reason for any Sixers fan to be missing out on the fun.

 

Team statistics provided by TeamRankings.com.

 

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