By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Oct 16 2012 2:21PM
The Philadelphia 76ers are a brand new team.
They didn't undergo a complete roster turnover -- they have five players coming back from last year's rotation -- but they do have a completely new identity.
It starts with new addition Andrew Bynum, acquired in the four-team blockbuster that sent Dwight Howard to L.A. and Andre Iguodala to Denver. The seven-footer, who turns 25 four days before the season opener, gives the Sixers an interior anchor on both ends of the floor.
Bynum's arrival was greeted with an incredible reaction from Sixers fans. They're usually pretty finicky, but they realize that they're team now has a higher ceiling than it did with its previous ensemble cast.
"People are looking for him to help take this franchise to new heights," Sixers head coach Doug Collins said as his team opened training camp. "He's well aware of that. I think he's ready to take on that challenge. But it's not a one-man thing. We've got to use the magnificent skill that he brings, but it's got to be all of us together."
Bynum should help most on offense, where the Sixers ranked 17th last season. They had five guys average double figures and nine score at least 18 in a game, but none of them could draw a double-team.
Bynum, with his size and skill, can certainly do that. Last season, Collins only had jump-shooting big men. Now, he has a guy he considers to be "the best low-post center in the NBA."
"So much of what we're going to do offensively in the half-court is going to revolve around 'Drew," Collins said.
The old Sixers' offense was as balanced as an NBA offense get. No player ranked higher than 42nd in scoring or higher than 20th in usage rate (Lou Williams in both cases). The ball moved well, but didn't get near the basket nearly enough. The Sixers attempted just 28 percent of their shots from the restricted area, the second-lowest rate in the league. And they ranked dead last in free throw rate.
Those numbers will certainly change with Bynum, but the structure of the offense might not look all that different, because the Sixers will be using many of the same sets they ran last year. They will just have different priorities, looking into the post a lot more.
"We're running a lot of the same things," Collins said, "but the end result of it is we want to make sure we're looking in the post. We don't want to be a two-point jump-shooting team.
"We would like to establish that paint. And if you play inside out, it creates so many opportunities."
The addition of three guys -- Jason Richardson, Dorell Wright and Nick Young -- who ranked in the top 26 in 3-pointers last season will help the Sixers spread the floor and better take advantage of Bynum's presence inside. In addition to more free throws, Collins wants to see more 3s . The Sixers averaged 29.3 points a game from free throws and 3-pointers last season, the third-lowest mark in the league.
"I'd like for us to get 40 points a game at the free throw line and 3-point line," the coach said. "Can we make 7-8 3s a game?"
One other big difference in the Sixers' offense will be an increased role for point guard Jrue Holiday. When they left Philly, Iguodala and Williams took 8.9 assists per game with them, so more of the playmaking burden falls on Holiday's shoulders. And while the Sixers are going to be a much better half-court offensive team with a dominant post presence, Collins still wants his team to run the floor and not necessarily wait for Bynum.
"We want Jrue to, any time he can, push that ball in the open court," Collins said. "We don't want to be a set-up team. We want the initial thrust, and we have it set up where, if Andrew's the last guy down ... we can get him the ball on the back side out of a triangle kind of set."
Bynum is now the man in Philly, and Holiday surely sees the benefits of having one of the best centers in the league on his side.
"I know there are times where you just throw it in the post," Holiday said, "and you know that he's going to get two points or he's going to get to the free throw line."
Still, it may be the development of Holiday himself that really determines just where the Sixers stand in the Eastern Conference. Two years ago, Collins said that Holiday would eventually be a top-five point guard in the NBA. And now would be a great time for the 22-year-old to make that leap, because while Bynum is the star, Holiday is running the show.
1. The Sixers' size goes well beyond Bynum. Spencer Hawes, at 7-1, is penciled in to start at power forward. They also have Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown who can play center. "Last year, we were a little bit of a finesse team," Collins said. "We're a contact team now. Guys on our team, they hit. They don't mind being hit. And it's a real different personality that we have."
2. The Sixers' offense would have been even worse than it was last season if they didn't do such a great job of taking care of the ball, setting an NBA record by turning the ball over just 11.2 times per game. But when it came to their four primary ball-handlers, Williams (5.9 turnovers per 100 possessions) and Iguodala (9.8) had lower turnover rates than Holiday (10.3) and Evan Turner (11.4). So while their shots at the rim will go up, it's very likely that so will their turnovers.
3. The way Collins speaks of Allen, you wonder if the second-year big man who the Sixers selected with the 50th pick in 2011 is the coach's choice to eventually play the bulk of the minutes next to Bynum. "Lavoy can be an all-defensive player and he can shoot that mid-range shot, which really helps us," Collins said. "He's a Lottery pick."
John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
LAST YEAR: 35-31, 3rd in Atlantic
FINISH: Lost in Eastern Conference semifinals
2011-12 TEAM LEADERS
|Complete 2011-12 Stats|
JRUE HOLIDAY, POINT GUARD
13.5 PPG | 4.5 APG | 3.3 RPG
As much as Evan Turner has disappointed as a No. 2 pick, Holiday is the more important of the Sixers' young playmakers. The ball is in his hands.
JASON RICHARDSON, SHOOTING GUARD
11.6 PPG | 3.6 RPG | 2.0 APG
One of only four players to hit at least 100 3-pointers in each of the last eight seasons. His once-feared ability to get to the rim has diminished greatly, though.
EVAN TURNER, SMALL FORWARD
9.4 PPG | 5.8 RPG | 2.8 APG
Improved somewhat from his rookie season, but he still has a long way to go. Turner has to improve his perimeter shooting and get to the line more this season.
SPENCER HAWES, POWER FORWARD
9.6 PPG | 7.3 RPG | 2.6 APG
Penciled in as the starter, but not as good a fit next to Bynum as either Thaddeus Young or Lavoy Allen, especially on defense, where he'll struggle.
ANDREW BYNUM, CENTER
18.7 PPG | 11.8 RPG | 1.4 APG
As important as his play on the court is his attitude in the locker room. He has to take on more responsibility as the franchise player Philly wants him to be.
|Dorell Wright||6-9||205||F||Shooter will be dangerous with Bynum on the floor.|
|Nick Young||6-7||210||G||Needs to be more efficient ... and play some defense.|
|Thaddeus Young||6-8||220||F||Has flourished as a reserve, but may be best option to start at PF.|
ADDED: C Kwame Brown, C Andrew Bynum, G Royal Ivey, G Jason Richardson, F Dorell Wright, G Nick Young
LOST: F Elton Brand (amnesty), G/F Andre Iguodala, G Jodie Meeks, F Nikola Vucevic, G/F Sam Young, G Lou Williams
ANDREW BYNUM, CENTER
Bynum goes from playing third fiddle with the Lakers to being the man in Philadelphia. The double-double machine is sure to play with a chip on his shoulder after being ousted from La La Land. His ability to deal with the new pressures will steer the Sixers.
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