The Philadelphia 76ers were not expected to get the No. 7 seed in the East, let alone even make the playoffs.
However, the Sixers grew up and improved drastically over the course of this past year. Young players like Jrue Holiday and Jodie Meeks were some of the most improved players in the entire NBA.
Looking forward to next season, the Sixers will have some decisions to make. The biggest piece perhaps leaving this offseason is Thaddeus Young, who is a restricted free agent.
Regardless of money or cap concerns, here are the players that the 76ers should keep and get rid of for the 2011-2012 NBA season.
Jason Kapono was supposed to help the Sixers' stagnant production from beyond the arc. After Kyle Korver left, Philadelphia was desperately seeking a viable replacement.
The Jason Kapono experience did not work out too well. He played in only 81 games in two seasons with the Sixers and struggled to stay healthy. Even when healthy, Kapono could not find a role for himself in the Sixers rotation. He made one three-point basket this season.
Imagine if the Sixers still had Reggie Evans to come off the bench. The Sixers could have won another game or two in the postseason.
As a first-round pick from Iowa State, Craig Brackins saw very sporadic playing time in only three games this season. Brackins was acquired for Willie Green in the beginning of the year.
Brackins is a young man who still has plenty of time to develop and grow as a player. When I saw this trade, I thought the Sixers got a steal. It was time for Willie Green to leave Philly and the Sixers got a first rounder in return for him.
Brackins averaged 16 points and almost eight rebounds in college, but he has not gotten the chance to show his offensive skills at the NBA level.
With time, Brackins can be a good contributor to this rotation.
Darius Songaila played so sparingly this season that I could not even find an action shot of him. That should pretty much sum up his season right there.
Songaila managed to only play in 10 games and averaged only seven minutes in those games. Songaila was acquired along with Craig Brackins in the Willie Green and Jason Smith deal. It looks like Brackins will be the only one left on the team from this deal after the offseason.
Tony Battie was a pleasant surprise for the most part this season. He was never expected to play so many minutes, but when Marreese Speights struggled, Battie became an important piece to the Sixers rotation.
Battie provided much needed frontcourt depth and played only when someone like Elton Brand or Spencer Hawes got in foul trouble.
Battie is a great veteran and a good player to have on any team. That being said, he is getting up there in age and the Sixers are almost certainly going to address the backup C position in the draft or in free agency.
I really like Andres Nocioni. When he is healthy and is a constant in the Sixers rotation, he can be a consistent scorer and defender at the SF position.
However, Nocioni just did not seem to fit in well with this young, athletic Philadelphia team. Doug Collins tried to get him in the lineup, but just could not figure out a role for him in his system.
After promising rookie and second-year campaigns, Marreese Speights took a step back in his third season as a Sixer.
Speights' numbers dropped in almost every category. The most glaring drop was in his minutes per game. He averaged over five minutes less than last season and lost minutes to the 35-year-old Tony Battie.
Speights is not known for his defense, but if he wants to stay with the team (and in the NBA) he has to work on his defensive skills. His offense alone will not get him playing time anywhere in the NBA.
Still think Evan Turner is a bust?
The man went off in two games during the playoffs and provided the Sixers with some surprising scoring. Turner made a few moves that reminded me of his days at Ohio State. Do not forget that he was guarded by LeBron James for the most part, too.
Turner had his struggles over the course of the season, but like many of his teammates, he grew up quickly in the Heat series.
When the Sixers first got Spencer Hawes from Sacramento I was like "ehh."
His performance during the season changed my perception of that trade around 180 degrees.
Hawes started every game and provided the Sixers with a consistent offensive and defensive low-post game that Sammy Dalembert did not have.
Hawes fits this system well because of his versatility on offense. I witnessed live his season-high 18-point performance in New Jersey. He has great touch for a seven footer.
Jodie Meeks turned into what Jason Kapono was supposed to be. Meeks was a starter after the first month of the season because of his three-point shooting.
Meeks led the team with a 40-percent three-point field-goal percentage. He also greatly improved and consistently helped on the defensive side of the ball. He constantly was faced with some of the best off-guards in the NBA.
Thaddeus Young turned out to be one of the better bench players in the league last year.
He always has a knack for the bucket and has a never-ending motor that always leads to him turning "garbage into gold." Young averaged almost 13 points in just 26 minutes per night. He had an even better playoff series where he dropped 18 and 20 in Games 1 and 2.
Speaking of the Sixers' best bench players, Lou Williams was another one and was also a candidate for the Sixth Man Award.
Williams sometimes plays starters minutes, but he seems to be more comfortable coming off the bench on this Philadelphia team.
Lou will be remembered the most for his game-winning shot in Game 4 that gave the Sixers a well-deserved victory and proved that they can beat a good team.
Jrue Holiday had a breakout season and is undoubtedly the PG of the present and the future of this franchise.
He started every game for the Sixers this season and averaged six more points and almost three more assists than his rookie year. Holiday put himself on the national stage by having a solid playoff series against the Heat.
Elton Brand finally had the season that Sixers fans expected of him after signing a $80 million deal a few years back. Brand led the team in scoring, rebounding and blocks and, for the most part, had a consistently healthy season.
Brand seemed to find a role on the team, but it just doesn't seem like the team can go any further with him. If the Sixers could somehow trade him for a younger F, that would be ideal. If he is on the team next season, I would not be mad either.
Andre Iguodala may not put up eye-popping, superstar-like numbers, but he is the Sixers' superstar. Iggy does all the little things that do not show up in the box score.
Iguodala had arguably the best season of his career by averaging over 14 points and over six assists per game. The only knock on him this season was his playoff performance. He did not have the greatest of offensive games in the series, but he was a main factor in guarding one of the league's top players.