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8 Important Things to Watch on the Philadelphia 76ers as 2011-12 Season Begins

Michael FoglianoAnalyst IDecember 23, 2011

8 Important Things to Watch on the Philadelphia 76ers as 2011-12 Season Begins

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    The NBA is back and the Philadelphia 76ers are ready for a critical year in their stage of development. In other words, there are a lot of things this season that could well determine future decisions the team will make and what direction they might choose to go. Therefore, there are plenty of things to keep an eye on this season.

    Philadelphia poses a threat to other teams and should be viewed as a solid playoff team. Generally overlooked, expect the Sixers to make the playoffs with little attention. However don't rule them out so quickly. There's a lot more potential here than one might think.

    So here's to a good season Sixers fans, and along the way, be sure to watch out for the following things...

How They Start

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    Opening 3-13, everyone knows they had a tough time starting the season last year. This year expectations are higher and they should have no problem with this reoccurring.

    The Sixers actually begin the season with five straight road games, facing the Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Hornets. All of these are definitely winnable games, but it won't be that easy to accomplish on the road.

    I have no doubt they will be more consistent at the start because last year it was a new year in transition with a new coach. But it's still something small that should be looked at.

The Fans

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    Despite turning the season around last year, the Sixers fan base remains limited. It will be interesting to see how many turnout this year considering the Sixers are bound to improve even more.

The Owners

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    One of the biggest topics surrounding the Sixers this year was the new ownership. They have clearly stepped up and have shown optimism in turning this organization around, and there is more to come.

    CEO Adam Aron has been a very classy guy in his recent actions: Providing an open scrimmage at the Palestra, open to advice form the fans and even hiring a college student behind twitter accounts for the mascot nominees.

    They are doing their best to attract more fans with a positive outlook, and there's nothing more that can be asked for. They have immediately shown signs of making a difference. Just keep an eye on them to see what they do as the season progresses.

Jrue Holiday's Performance

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    Jrue Holiday showed last season, especially down the stretch, that he is well on his way of becoming a premier point guard in this league. This year is when he will make his big stride to that category.

    Last season Holiday was just 20 years old and averaged 14 points, 6.5 assists and four rebounds per game. That's pretty impressive at such a young age.

    He carries great qualities as a point guard and has improved his long range jumper to make himself even more versatile. Holiday is ready for his new workload and his rise to become a part of selective group point guards in the league will start now.

The Shooting Guard Position

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    It's well-known by Sixers fans that Doug Collins isn't a believer in starting the best five players in the first quarter. Instead, his philosophy calls for chemistry and he plays the five players who gel well together, almost maximizing talent in a way (he does a great job of it). I love it.

    But the problem sparks at the shooting guard slot with Jodie Meeks and Turner.

    Meeks improved greatly last season and has a near flawless shot-- a great shooter to spread the floor. Things worked out fine.

    But despite this, it seems to me that the organization is taking the path of hoping Iguodala and Turner can co-exist. Otherwise, they would have at least tried to trade Iguodala and let Turner take over. But they didn't. Why, you ask? I think the only option is that they believe Iggy and Turner can work well together, and there is a chance of this.

    Therefore, what will they do at the shooting guard position if they want Turner and Iggy to gel, but at the same time, they have Meeks doing a more than fine job at the two? It's a big issue, and it seems as of now Collins is still starting Meeks. Still, you should keep an eye on this because I wouldn't be surprised if Collins experiments this season.

Andre Iguodala

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    Is there anything we shouldn't be watching here? Iguodala seems to be the center of everything in Philly, and it seems he is always being judged because, well, he has a lot of responsibility. However, the question comes to whether or not he can handle it.

    Iguodala is a very good player and can do many things that most players cannot. basically, he is good at everything, just not great at any certain aspect. And that's OK. For some reason, Philly fans criticize him for not having a good jumper and jump to the conclusion he isn't a good player. This shouldn't be the case.

    Many people believe he cannot be the best player on a team if they want to win. And that's completely true. But let's establish that he was never meant to be, and it's not his fault he just so happens to be the best player on this team. He cannot be blamed for that.

    Anyway, Iguodala's performance can determine a lot of things. If he can mesh with Evan Turner, then he will stay. Simple as that. This is the route the Sixers are taking, or at least it seems like it.

    Keep an eye on Iguodala's performance because rumor was that he improved his shot, but he has not played so well in the preseason.

Co-Existence of Turner and Iguodala

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    This is probably the biggest issue that must be addressed regarding the Sixers now and for the future.

    At an early stage in development, the Sixers had a lot of options as to what way to build their team last year. They could have traded Iguodala and technically they still can. But like I said earlier, they most likely will not and they must be taking the route of building upon what they have, and it seems like they have confidence in a duo of Turner and Iguodala.

    As soon as the Sixers drafted Turner, this was the biggest question because they are two similar players who need the ball in their hands to play at their best level. However, there was and still is a chance they can gel together.

    Basically, the Sixers' future, especially if they do not make a move at the deadline, is riding on Turner and Iguodala, so keep an eye on them. This is a major factor into future decisions and the future of this team.

How They Finish

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    The Sixers finished the regular season on a strong note overall after bouncing back form that dreadful start, followed by the playoffs where they lost to the Heat, but went down putting up a good fight.

    They are definitely more comfortable this season after an additional year of experience. Their chemistry is thriving as always and there is potential ahead.

    Last year's Eastern Conference playoff standings were extremely close with the Sixers finishing a game behind the Knicks for the sixth seed and just three games behind the Hawks for the fifth. Without that sluggish start, there is no question they would have surpassed both teams.

    Perhaps the Sixers didn't acquire a big name superstar via trades or free agency, but they are different then most teams. They are building on chemistry, playing defense and maximizing talent. And you know what? I don't mind it at all, not one bit. 

    Expect the Sixers do finish better than last season and watch out for how they finish entering the playoffs.

Conclusion

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    With many things to keep an eye on, the Sixers have a positive season ahead, and could possibly achieve as high as a fourth seed (that's right, I said it!).

    There are a lot of things to watch specifically this season and I personally cannot wait for the season to start. A lot of things can happen and the Sixers will silently put together a solid season and pose a threat to other contenders.

    Watch out Sixers fans, there's a long season on the way. And most importantly, ShowYaLuv.

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