Team Preview: Philadelphia 76ers
STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
The 76ers head into the season without Allen Iverson for the first time in 11 seasons. If you forgot, Iverson was traded to the Nuggets for guard Andre Miller, forward Joe Smith and two first round draft picks in the 2007 NBA Draft last season. Management decided to part ways with forward Chris Webber as well, after rumors spread that he was sitting out games because of his displeasure with the team.
Andre Iguodala has become the new face of the franchise, and he has adapted to the role without any problems. The 76ers only won 35 games but showed improvement during the second half of the season. Maurice Cheeks enters his third season in Philadelphia after posting a 35-47 mark in 2006-07. Management has been patient with coach Cheeks, but this could be his make or break season.
PLAYING TIME DISTRIBUTION
Iguodala led the team with just over 40 minutes per game at shooting guard and small forward, and that’s not likely to change. Willie Green will spell Iguodala from time to time and will likely split time between point and shooting guard. Starting point guard Andre Miller averaged 37 minutes per game last season and should continue to play over 30 minutes a night. Kevin Ollie should remain the backup point guard to start the season and play 10 minutes a game, but he will soon give way to Louis Williams. Williams showed promise last season and played very well in the Las Vegas Summer League – he has the potential to break through in 2007-08, especially if Miller were to be traded. Korver will start at shooting guard, but should see his playing time drop to below 30 minutes a game. Second-year man Rodney Carney will also be competing with Korver and Green for swingman minutes. Center Samuel Dalembert will man the middle and should play between 25 and 35 minutes per game despite suffering a stress fracture in his left foot in early September. The Sixers acquired Reggie Evans this offseason (Steven Hunter and Bobby Jones were traded to Denver), but who will start at power forward has yet to be addressed. Shavlik Randolph and first-round draft pick Jason Smith could be in the big-man mix as well as recent signee Calvin Booth. Rookie Thaddeus Young should see some minutes off the bench at small forward, but at this point, his game is still pretty raw.
* Samuel Dalembert – PHI [C]: Dalembert suffered a left foot stress fracture while playing for Canada’s national team at the FIBA Americas tournament in September, but the team’s president, Billy King, said he should heal in time for camp in October. Dalembert stepped up his game last season and played in all 82 games for the second time in his career. Most surprisingly, he managed to stay out of foul trouble, and being on the floor for an extra three to four minutes per game made a big difference in his play. Dalembert averaged 10.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game while shooting 54 percent from the floor. Fantasy owners should expect much of the same this season with a slight increase in his rebounding and blocking numbers – assuming, of course, that his foot has healed.
Shavlik Randolph – PHI [SF,PF]: Randolph played in only 16 games last season and is still recovering from surgery needed for a fractured and dislocated left ankle. He has yet to really test the ankle, so he’s a huge question mark heading into training camp. Randolph will play center as well as power forward.
Thaddeus Young – PHI [SF,PF]: The 76ers selected Young 12th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft and have high expectations for the 18-year-old. He is a great athlete that will need time to develop, but he has the talent to make it happen. He averaged 14.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists as a freshman at Georgia Tech but will likely need a year or two before becoming a full-time player. Young will start the season behind Andre Iguodala and Rodney Carney.
Kyle Korver – PHI [SF]: Korver is a threat from beyond the arc and remains one of the best free throw shooters in the NBA. He averaged 14.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, shot 44 percent from the floor, 43 percent from beyond the arc and 91 percent from the free throw line. He’s a fine bench player to have because he should play 27-29 minutes per game.
Jason Smith – PHI [SF,PF]: The 20th pick of this year’s draft fills an immediate need as an offensive-minded big man with shooting range out to the three-point line. Because of his shot, he could see considerable playing time at power forward early in the season.
* Reggie Evans – PHI [PF]: Evans was traded to the 76ers in early September and could start at power forward if he makes a nice impression in training camp. He averaged 4.9 points and 7.0 rebounds last season for the Nuggets and led the league in rebounds per 48 minutes at 19.7.
* Andre Iguodala – PHI [SG,SF]: Iguodala is the focal point of the 76ers’ offense and will be for years to come. He contributes in almost every offensive category and is becoming more aggressive going to the hoop each season. He went to the foul line more than seven times per game last season, showing that he’s getting the respect that the referees reserve for the league’s best players. Iguodala will play close to 40 minutes per game and has stayed relatively healthy throughout his short career. He averaged 18.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game last season while shooting 44.7 percent from the floor, 82.0 percent from the free throw line and 31.0 percent from beyond the arc. Iguodala should remain consistent, but don’t expect his numbers to increase too much, considering he can’t possibly be on the floor more than he was last season.
* Andre Miller – PHI [PG]: Miller is one of the better rebounding guards in the league and will occasionally flirt with a triple double, but he could find himself on the trading block by midseason as the team is grooming Louis Williams to eventually take over at the point. Miller averaged 13.4 points, 7.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game last season, and you can expect more of the same so long as he’s with the Sixers.
* Willie Green – PHI [SG]: Green played just under 25 minutes per game in his fourth season and averaged 11.3 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. The potential has always been there, but he hasn’t been able to become more than a role player for the 76ers. Look for much of the same this upcoming season with Louis Williams pushing for a bigger role.