The Schedule: Rising Stars Come To Philly
Last year’s Sixers team was one of the youngest in NBA history. Heading into 2014-15 with five new rookies rookie additions – Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant, and Jordan McRae, Philadelphia again figures to be historically youthful.
The group is headlined by Nerlens Noel, who will be considered a first-year player this year as a result of his redshirt 2013-14 season. The 6’11” center will be be eligible for all rookie awards and honors this season, including Rookie of the Year, an award won by teammate and longtime friend Michael Carter-Williams last year. This year’s class is one of the best in recent memory, and competition for rookie honors will be fierce. According to ESPN’s Summer Forecast, Noel has the league’s third-best odds of winning Rookie of the Year, and NBA.com has him atop their Rookie Ladder. Here’s a look at when some of the league’s top young players will be coming to Wells Fargo Center this coming season.
On Wednesday, November 5, the Sixers will host an Orlando Magic team that recently added rookies Aaron Gordon (4th overall) and Elfrid Payton (10th overall) to a young core that includes 2014 Rookie of the Year runner-up Victor Oladipo. Gordon, like Noel, made an impact on both ends of the floor in his lone collegiate season; the 6’9” forward filled the stat sheet with 12.4 points (49.5 FG%), 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, and 0.9 steals per game as a freshman at Arizona last year. Payton averaged 19.3 points (50.0 FG%), 6.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game as a junior at Lousiana Lafayette in 2013-14. The 6’4” point guard was drafted by the Sixers with the 10th-overall pick before being dealt to the Magic for a package that included the rights to Croatian forward Dario Saric.
In their first two home games following a seven-game road swing over Christmas and New Years, the Sixers host Andrew Wiggins and Cleveland Cavaliers (Monday, January 5) and Jabari Parker and the Milwaukee Bucks (Wednesday, January 7). At the conclusion of their freshman seasons, the two wings were both named consensus All-Americans, with Parker taking first-team honors and Wiggins making the second team. The two were ranked #1 and #2, respectively, in ESPN’s Rookie of the Year projection (LINK).
On Friday, March 6, the Sixers host Dante Exum and the Utah Jazz for the first and only time in 2014-15. Drafted fifth overall, the Australian-born combo guard is one of the most enigmatic top picks in recent memory, having only played in the amateur ranks in his home country and in international tournaments. Exum is projected to share primary ball-handling duties with second-year man Trey Burke, who finished third in Rookie of the Year voting last season. By March, fans should have a better sense of both his game and his place in the Rookie of the Year race.
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