On Wednesday night in Boston the 76ers will tip off what should be a very interesting 2015-16 season against the hated Celtics. If you believe all the online “experts”, Wednesday night’s contest against the C’s will begin yet another season of rebuilding/tanking that will produce little more than another high Draft pick for Sam Hinkie.
However, a number of us here at Philadunkia firmly believe that in 2015-16 the 76ers will actually show growth and take a significant step forward on the court. If Hinkie’s plan works and the Sixers become Eastern Conference contenders in the not so distant future, I am of the opinion that Phialdunkia nation will look back at year three of the “process” as the turning point in this long rebuild.
After the jump I present six predictions for the 76ers in the highly anticipated 2015-16 season.
1) The Sixers will be 2-16 on November 29th: Last week I authored a post that detailed how brutal the opening month of the 2015-16 season will be for the 76ers. I theorized that injuries, new players learning Brown’s systems and an unfriendly NBA schedule would create a “perfect storm” that would crush the Sixers in October and November. That article was posted previous to Robert Covington spraining his MCL and being sidelined for 2-3 weeks. That injury to Cov will not help things. In fact, I now only see 2 wins for the Sixers between opening night and November 29th — vs. Utah on October 30th and at Charlotte on November 20th. OUCH!
2) However, they will recover to win 24 games this season: That’s right, call me crazy but I think after the disater of a start chronicled above, Brown and Co. will right the ship and have a “respectable” season that will give Philadunkia nation hope for 2016-17. Once assets like Stauskas, Covington, Marshall and Wroten are healthy and incorportaed into the rotations with Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, the Sixers will be a competitive team on the court. The team will gather some momentum with several W’s in December and January. As we allknow, after the All-Star break non-contending teams will start mailing it in and looking forward to 2016-17. Between the ASB and the final games in April, the Sixers will pile up wins and get to 24 victories.
3) Nerlens Noel Takes A Big Step Forward: In the last 21 games of 2014-15 Noel averaged 11.5 ppg. and 9.2 rpg. The rust was gone from sitting out an entire season and Noel appeared to find his role on this team. He even showed some flashes of very solid offensive play. In short, I really liked what I saw from #4 on offense over the final month of last season. In training camp his jumper looked smoother and in the preseason he has been much more involved in the offensive game plan. As his chemistry with Jah improves, I also expect his offensive production to continue to rise. These elements will combine for a break out offensive season for Noel.
4) Kendall Marshall will be a Nice Asset: Once Marshall if fully healthy (I am predicting that will be after Christmas), replaces Canaan in the starting line up and gets familiar with his teammates, the 13th overall pick in the 2012 Draft will prove to be a solid addition to the roster. I’m not saying Marshall will play at an all-star level. Still, his solid jumper, court vision and ability to keep the half court offense moving will make you forget about MCW and how he loved to pound the rock.
5) Brett Brown will have a mini-meltdown: At some point during year three of the “process” the ultimate company guy will lose his cool for a second and one night Brown will give us some great press clippings. I know it goes against Brown’s ultra positive personality and team first mantra, but a head coach can only handle so much. No matter how well he spins it to media, Brown knows he’s been coaching an absolute garbage roster for two seasons. Year three in the rebuild was supposed to be different, but if you go by what the “experts” are all predicting for the 76ers it will not be. I actually look forward to this mini-meltdown and think that after all Hinkie has put Brown through that the HC deserves to have at least one moment of weakness/honesty.
6) Joel Embiid Scenario Boils Over: After the SI.com / Cauldron post on the dysfunctional nature of the 76ers organization was published I spoke with several of my NBA contacts about the article. All of them commented to some degree that the info on Embiid’s attitude & listening skills / rehab practcies came as no surprise. In fact, several of them noted that was Embiid’s rep headed into the 2014 Draft. Embidd is a 21-year old, independent thinking and fun loving millionaire who is now sitting out his second consecutive NBA season. My bet is that the boredom gets to Embiid this season and he does something stupid. Whatever the transgression, his antics will bring unwanted attention to him and the franchise and expose his unprofessional ways/attitude to Philadunkia nation.
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