By now you’ve read or watched what all the national “experts” have predicted for our Philadelphia 76ers in 2011-12. Many of them believe that we are in for a replay of the 2010-11 season — make the playoffs; get bounced in the first round. There are also a few “experts” who are predicting that Philadunkia’s home team will fall flat on its face in this 66-game season and miss the post season. OUCH.
But as we all know, national ‘experts” are NOT the best source of information when it comes to the Sixers. So in an effort to provide educated forecasts on how this year will play out for the Sixers, the scribes here at Philadunkia — people who eat, drink and sleep the 7-6 — have typed up their predictions for 2011-12. According to the Philadunkia staff, one thing is for sure, the 2011-12 76ers will be exciting to watch.
After the jump…Here we go
Outside of Elton Brand, the rest of the Sixers roster benefits in a condensed 66 games-in-120-days regular season. While a team like the Celtics will struggle due to old age, the Sixers youth and legs will be able to take on the atypical slate. Also, without any major additions, continuity and chemistry will play a big role in improving Philadelphia’s winning percentage from a season ago. The Sixers won’t mind a shortened training camp like other teams with several roster transformations.
Looking over everything that has changed around the 76ers since they finished 41-41 last season, good enough for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference adn then lost handily to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs (but showed signs of their growth), I look at the team itself and realize that the team itself hasn’t changed much at all. The Sixers drafted two big men back in June and that is the extent of player additions in the off-season. Center Nikola Vucevic is just another Spencer Hawes with a better shot and forward Lavoy Allen needs plenty of teaching from Elton Brand before he can be considered any sort of option in the lane for this team. So just like last season it’s going to be tough for the team to go anywhere unless they pull the trigger for an elite center. There’s too many position issues which Doug Collins is going to have to deal with, and clearing up some of those issues with a trade would be a good idea sooner rather than later. Do you play Jodie Meeks or Evan Turner? Do you play Andre Iguodala or Thaddeus Young? Do you play Elton Brand or Thaddeus Young? Do you play Spencer Hawes or Nikola Vucevic? It’s tough to coach a team when there’s only one starter on the team who knows his playing time will not be affected on a nightly basis. With all of this said I think that the shortened season will be to the advantage of the Sixers, but they still won’t have a chance in the playoffs until they find a reliable option at center. The Sixers will finish the season 36-30, good enough for the 6th spot in the East.
The 7-6 still have the same glaring holes — no real presence in the middle, repetitive parts on the wing and the lack of an NBA caliber shooting guard — that they had in 2010-11, but thanks to the condensed 66-game schedule, young legs, a fast start and a second year under Doug Collins, I believe they will take a big step forward this year. Now that step won’t be big enough to win a playoff series, but for those of us who really care about the Sixers, 2011-12 will be a joy to watch. Among the highlights in this shortened season will be the emergence of Jrue Holiday as one of the Top 10 point men in the League.
Record: 40-26. Of course I reserve the right to change this prediction if Jrue or Brand go down with an injury for any length of time.
The Sixers, the contentedest .500 team in the history of professional sports (as evidenced by their decision to bring back the exact. same. team), will come out the gates hot, cool off around mid-season, and make a strong late push (hopefully bolstered by some deadline-finagling) to finish 36-30 and snag the six seed in the East. The story of the season though will be Evan Turner’s improved confidence/jump-shot driven rise, and the eventual trade of Andre Iguodala it will enable.