Sixers 2016 Season Preview
Maya Hughes | 10/26/2016, 11:35 a.m.
“Trust the Process” has been the theme for the Philadelphia Sixers organization the last few seasons. After having another losing season with a 10-72 record, now is the time for the Sixers to begin their transformation from tanking and experimenting to a more typical NBA franchise.
The organization has more experienced basketball ops in Jerry and Bryan Colangelo. On the player side, veterans were added to the team to play along with the top overall pick and a core of younger players. This year’s season won’t be easy, but the outcome will demonstrate to the fans and the city of Philadelphia what the future of the organization will look like.
The Sixers opted to stick with Brett Brown after the 10-72 season, which seems fair because he had next to nothing to work with. This is a Sixers team that was one of the worst teams both offensively and defensively during the 2015-16 season. They were outscored by more than 10 points per game on average and they never won consecutive games. The Sixers were 29th in turnovers and were the worst rebounding team in the NBA.
Just when it seemed as though the Sixers were poised to switch from rebuilding mode to a competing team, they lost the first-overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft Ben Simmons to a broken bone in his foot. Simmons will miss at least a couple of months. That leaves a trio of former first round picks to lead the way with Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid all set to play big minutes this season.
Embiid, the former third overall pick, hasn’t played a regular season game in the NBA. Noel showed some flashes last season. The 6-foot-11 big has now played 142 games over the last two seasons. He missed the 2013-14 season with a torn ACL. He has reliably posted double-digit points and eight rebounds per game and he should keep growing.
Okafor was a productive player in his 53 games during the 2015-16 campaign before a knee operation cut his season short. Okafor had 17.5 points and seven rebounds per effort while he was out there. It’s clear that the Sixers have some strong young talent, but injuries have just been crippling for the team. Okafor and Embiid will show off moves in the post, Noel is a tremendous shot-blocker and help defender, and the new power forwards will upgrade the team’s creativity singlehandedly.
The Sixers have a wave of new players. After holding his rights for several years, the Sixers were able to sign Dario Saric. Saric is a great playmaker in his own right from the four spot. The Sixers also have Jerryd Bayless, Sergio Rodriguez and Gerald Henderson who are all great supplements to the likes of Simmons, Saric and Embiid. Throughout the season, they will lean on each other to help maximize their potential.
After finishing with a league-worst 10 wins last season, expectations will be low again for the Sixers this year. The 76ers are loaded with young talent and cap space but at this point, it looks like it will be at least one more year before they can climb out of the basement in the Atlantic division. However, Philly fans should be excited to see the rebuilding campaign finally turn a corner.
The Sixers open their regular season at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 26.
Last year’s record: 10-72
Key losses: Ish Smith (PG, signed with Detroit Pistons); Isaiah Cannan (PG, signed with Chicago Bulls); Christian Wood (PF, signed with the Charlotte Hornets)
Key additions: Ben Simmons (PF); Timothe Luwawu (SG); James Webb III (PF); Gerald Henderson (SG); Jerryd Bayless (SG); Dario Saric (PF); Sergio Rodriguez (PG); Brandon Paul (SG)