2010-2011 NBA Predictions: Why the Philadelphia 76ers Will Be Much Improved
The preseason for the 76ers kicks off tomorrow against the Nets, and at first glance, you cannot help but notice something going into their first game. This team is kind of deep. After the Willie Green and Jason Smith to New Orleans deal, there really seems to be some depth on this roster and that will definitely make them a better squad.
The first thing I noticed honestly was not the projected starters, it was the bench.
Collins 1st team throughout camp consisted of Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Thad Young, Elton Brand, and Spencer Hawes. Looking at that starting five made me realize how deep this bench could potentially be.
At the point guard spot you will have Lou Williams backing up Holiday. Lou will provide a great change of pace when he enters the game and has clearly been more of a success in his career off the bench. Williams seems to be a career Jason Terry type of player; his best influence comes from off the bench and there is nothing wrong with that.
The Sixers are a little short at point guard after those two, but I could also see Evan Turner handling the ball a great deal with Lou, Jodie Meeks perhaps getting some time at that spot, and the team brought in Chris Quinn to try out for the roster. Quinn has actually impressed a number of coaches and has a good chance to win the third point guard spot.
At shooting guard, it seems like Andre Iguodala will once again have a chance to start there, at least considering the starting five throughout camp, however, Turner does still have a chance to start there. If Iguodala does indeed start at the two, backing him up will be Evan Turner who will probably feel a lot less pressure coming off the bench and thus will be more effective. Coming off the bench will also ease his transition to the uptempo NBA style of play.
Louis Williams and Jodie Meeks will also see minutes at the two spot and Meeks had a very strong camp when it comes to shooting with range, something the Sixers really need.
At the forward spots, Collins utilized Thaddeus Young and a slim and trim Elton Brand as first teamers during camp. Therefore expect a strong and talented group to back them up. The acquisitions of Andres Nocioni and Darius Songaila will prove very beneficial for the Sixers. Both guys are extremely tough and hard nosed players who can stretch the floor with their shooting ability and who can also defend every position from shooting guard to power forward. Collins should feel quite lucky to have two versatile players like that to use. Toughness is something the Sixers have lacked over the years and these two players will bring that to Philly.
Collins will also have Jason Kapono to use at the three spot. Kapono shot the ball extremely well during camp and seemed to have good chemistry and rhythm with Holiday. It should not be very hard to use Kapono better than Eddie Jordan did, considering that Eddie Jordan utilized him worse than any coach could possibly utilize the best three point shooter in the game's history by percentage.
Collins will also have the benefit of using Craig Brackins. Brackins was acquired from the Hornets along with Songaila. He was the Hornets first round pick in the latest draft and gives the Sixers two young first rounders to develop for the future. Brackins gives the Sixers another good shooter who can stretch the floor.
At the center spot, Collins ran Hawes with the starters and he did not disappoint. Many critics stated that the Sixers defense would clearly weaken with Dalembert gone and Hawes in, but they did not mention how much the offense would improve.
Hawes is a center that you can trust with the ball in his hands. No more screaming at the television set trying to get Sammy D to get rid of the ball before he turns it over. Hawes has great touch and has range out to the three point line. He is also an above average passer which will allow slashers like Iguodala, Young, and Turner to be even more effective.
Also, the defense will probably improve due to the trade, because even though you lose a prolific shot blocker, the rest of the players will play even better defense knowing that Dalembert is no longer back there to swat shots. As long as Holiday continues his Gary Payton-esque defense, the rest of his teammates will follow.
The Sixers also brought in seasoned veteran Tony Battie who will bring a veteran attitude and toughness to the center spot.
And of course. you cannot forget about Mareese Speights. He is the wild card on this Sixers team. At times he looked brilliant last season, on the cusp of being a starter in the NBA without question, and at other times he looked lazy and slow and detached from the game.
Hopefully the Speights that showed up for camp this year, will be there this season. He has slimmed down and has impressed the staff with his effort on the defensive end.
Speights has always been a good scorer, but his defense has been his Achilles heel. He has tried to change that during camp and is playing hard on the defensive end every play and scoring as well.
The biggest issue for Collins will be finding minutes for this suddenly deep bench that the Sixers have, but you got to admit, that is probably a problem that the new coach does not mind having.
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