Kia Season Preview 2016-17
2016-17 Season Preview: Philadelphia 76ers
What a long, strange trip it’s been. After years testing the depths of the rebuilding process, it seems as though the process is finally paying dividends. Players are getting healthy, overseas prospects have arrived, and the Sixers are hoping new addition Ben Simmons is the real deal … eventually.
Philly used the first overall pick in the draft on Ben Simmons, who looked terrific in Summer League appearances and then broke his foot in training camp … After holding his rights for several years, the Sixers were able to sign Dario Saric … After two years out while dealing with injuries, former lottery pick Joel Embiid has finally been cleared to return to action.
Ben Simmons, get ready for the spotlight. After an inconsistent college season at LSU, Simmons was facing high expectations for his rookie season before playing even one game. A broken foot and delayed start to his season won’t do anything to ease his transition.
The Sixers enter the season with something of a logjam at center, between Jalil Okafor, Nerlins Noel and Embiid. If everyone stays healthy, it feels like something has to give to ensure these players adequate playing time.
Last year’s Sixers had the worst offensive rating in the league (96.6). While the Sixers always played hard, they just didn’t have the talent to compete night after night.
MAN ON THE SPOT
The most impactful move the Sixers made last season was bringing in Bryan Colangelo to replace the departed Sam Hinkie, who had previously presided over what seemed like a perpetual rebuilding process. While Hinkie was able to accumulate plenty of assets, it’s now up to Colangelo to help turn draft picks and assets into players who can help the Sixers improve.
Jerryd Bayless | 10.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.1 apg
Played for Milwaukee last season, now expected to provide some offensive punch for Philly.
Gerald Henderson | 8.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1 apg
NBA veteran is expected to provide leadership and backcourt scoring.
Robert Covington | 12.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.4 apg
Developing into a solid NBA rotation player, but this spot is destined to eventually belong to Simmons.
Jahlil Okafor | 17.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.2 apg
Last year’s draft prize finished the season as Philly’s leading scorer and placed fifth in Rookie of the Year voting.
Nerlens Noel | 11.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.8 apg
Noel has already been vocal about the Sixers’ big man excess.
The 22-year-old Croatian forward is a former two-time FIBA Young Player of the Year winner.
Joel Embiid | 11.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.4 apg (college)
Embiid has looked terrific of late, although that’s mostly been in social media posts.
Veteran point guard last played in the NBA with the Knicks in 2010.
THE BOTTOM LINE
After finishing with a league-worst 10 wins last season, expectations should be low. Philly fans, however, are excited to see the rebuilding campaign finally turn a corner. Started from the bottom, now they’re here. With nowhere to go but up.
Lang Whitaker has covered the NBA since 1998. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.