The 76ers training camp roster has been set, the new hype video went viral and media day is over, so it’s now time for Brett Brown and his staff to start molding this group of young prospects and journeymen into an actual NBA team.
Depending on your view of Sam Hinkie’s master plan, today’s first “official” practice marks either the beginning of Tank 3.0 or the first news worthy step forward in this long rebuilding process. Regardless of your opinions of what lies ahead in 2015-16 for the 76ers, there are a number of questions for this Sixers team that need to be answered over the next two weeks of practices at Stockton College.
After the jump, I’ll examine six questions that I will be looking to have answered during Training Camp15 for our 76ers.
1) Who is the Starting Point Guard?: The most obvious question mark for the 76ers at TC15 is who will emerge as the starting point guard? Brett Brown himself admitted that this is the biggest challenge he faces over the next two weeks, “Our greatest mystery still is who’s going to be our point guard,” Brown said last week. “It’s going to be a fistfight in Stockton.” Tony Wroten, Kendall Marshall, Isaiah Canaan, Pierre Jackson, Scott Wilbekin and T.J. McConel are your candidates. Yes, I realize that the two front runners (Wroten and Marshall) are coming off major injuries and will not be at 100% as camp opens. That leaves a very uninspiring and under-sized (not one of the remaining PG’s is taller than 6-2) group for Brown to pick from to lead this team at the start of the season, but someone has to win the job.
2) Is Nik Stauskas Really A Versatile Player?: Most in Philadunkia nation believe Stauskas to be a spot up shooter who will man the 2-guard spot for the 76ers and be a 3rd or 4th option in this offense. However, if you read this site regularly you know that Stauskas also burned at the SF and PG spots for Team Canada this summer and his play at the FIBA Americas Championship received very favorable reviews. If Stauskas can display that kind of versatility during TC, he could command more minutes in 2015-16 and potentially provide Brett Brown with some very interesting lineup combinations.
3) Is this Brett Brown’s Final TC as Sixers Head Coach?: As we all know, Brown is headed into the third year of a four-year deal and according to Brown there have not been discussions about extending his contract. When asked about the situation by beat reporters last week, Brown refused to comment saying, “I just don’t want to talk about it…”. Unlike Brown, I do want to talk about. IMO he deserves an extension and Sam Hinkie is a moron if he doesn’t extend Brown. But Hinkie’s whims on this matter are not why I question if this is Brown’s last TC with the Sixers. I am honestly worried about Brown burning out. If Hinkie continues to tinker with this roster and the L’s pile up at an alarming rate again this year, I wouldn’t blame Brown for throwing in the towel and walking away. I have loved his energy and his positive attitude during a long rebuild that he has no control over, but everyone has a breaking point. I fear Brown is approaching his threshold.
4) Will Jordan McRae Grab a Roster Spot?: McRae is long and athletic and can score the ball at will. All elements the Sixers could use on this roster. After a season in Australia’s NBL in which he was arguably the best player in that league, the Sixers front office and fans had high hopes for McRae. Then NBA Summer League action came along. McRae struggled mightily at times during summer league action as his shooting stroke went MIA (30% from floor and 25% from deep during 3 games in Utah & 1-5 during 1 game in Vegas). It was a very disappointing development to watch as I had hoped McRae would step in and contribute regularly in 2015-16. So which McRae will show up at TC is a huge question for me? Right now I think he has to have an outstanding TC and prove to the Sixers brass that he can help this team.
5) Can the Sixers Continue to Improve on the Defensive End?: In case you missed it, in 2013-14 the 76ers were absolutely horrid at the defensive end. I mean like historically bad. In fact they were so awful that when coaching my CYO team I would use clips of their defensive trips as examples of what NOT to do when playing man-to-man. In 2014-15 Brown made some adjustments; Nerlens Noel provided a shot blocking presence on the back end; and the 7-6’s perimeter players actually tightened up their defensive play. The results were that the Sixers moved up from dead last in the Association during 2013-14 in points allowed per game to 20th in 2014-15. The defensive improvements also ranked Brown’s squad 15th in opponents’ field goal percentage (44%) last season. The Sixers need continued improvement on the defensive end if they want to win 20-30 games in 2015-16. The question is will this young group commit to playing hard at that end of the floor and make defense a calling card for the 76ers?
6) Is Robert Covington the Real Deal?: “Cov” had numerous games last year where he looked like the long term answer to the 76ers 3-point shooting woes. However, there were also a couple of stretches in 2014-15 where he simply disappeared and could not hit the broad side of a barn. In short, 2014-15 was a roller coaster ride for “Cov”. But I can understand how jumping from the D-League to hauling 30+ minutes a night for the 76ers in January may produce some inconsistencies in a player’s game. This will be Covington’s first training camp with the Sixers and the coaching staff. Additionally, it appears he is no longer battling for his NBA life. With a full TC under his belt and some job security, “Cov” should be significantly more comfortable as a Sixer this season and I will be interested to see is that leads to “Cov” providing an outstanding 3-point threat nearly every night in 2015-16.
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