10/27/09 12:21 pm EST
We continue our three day preview of the 2009-10 Philadelphia 76ers team with a look at the thoughts and opinions of the Philadunkia writers as to what the upcoming season holds for the Sixers. Our scribes were given no instructions or rules for their individual preview pieces. We just provided them with a blank template and asked them to rant, rave of perhaps even praise this year’s edition of the home team so that Philadunkia visitors could read the pieces and then agree of disagree with their analysis.
We think you’ll be surprised at what some of our writers had to say about your 2009-10 Philadelphia 76ers.
“The glass is half full.”
That saying is a line that champions optimism and hope, and believe me, if you’re a Sixers fan for long enough you’ll certainly need both. Rather than focusing on the negatives from last season (Another mediocre record, horrendous three-point shooting, the absence of an all-star, and most importantly, another disappointing first round exit), I’m going to get my inner-optimist on and say that this season’s glass is certainly half full. Sure the team was bounced in the first round, but they put up a valid fight and proved to be a valid opponent to the eventual Eastern Conference Champions, the Orlando Magic. The success of that surprising series showed a different side to this Sixers squad; a side that they can hopefully build upon in the coming season.
The Sixers head into this season boasting largely the same squad as last season, barring a noticeable change at the point guard position; floor-general Andre Miller was shipped to Portland, a hole the Sixers filled by promoting prized long-time backup Lou Williams to the starting spot and drafting the potential-full, yet unproven Jrue Holiday out of UCLA. Williams will be looked to lead the team with up-tempo, fast-break basketball, a style that served them well last year.
Andre Igoudala had a huge 08-09, a year which saw him develop into the Sixers go-to-guy in late game situations, along withpushing his name into the upper echelon of the League. With his defense well respected, and his offensive arsenal continuously expanding there is no reason to believe we can’t seen an even bigger 09-10 from Andre. Last year, he solidified his name and reputation in the L, this year Sixers fans and League followers alike expect him to make that next step to All-Star status. Thaddeus Young is another player poised for a big season. In his second season Thad showed his versatility and expanded his scoring from 8 to over 15 points a game, providing another viable scoring option for a Sixers squad desperately in need of one. Poised for a breakout season, Thad figures to be a key component to the Sixers’ success this season.
The return of Elton Brand poses a question mark for the team, as they enjoyed their best success last season running an up-tempo style that ran most efficiently while Elton was sidelined with shoulder struggles. But, Elton is back and healthy, and now it is up to new coach Eddie Jordan to figure out a way to incorporate the former all-star into the game plan while sticking to the team’s strengths. If the new Sixersskipper can accomplish this expect a big season from both Elton and the Sixers.
Despite the addition of Jason Kapono to solidify the team’s terrible three point shooting, concerns about depth and front-court play will continue to haunt the team into the start of the season. Other questions loom large as well, including Elton’s health, Lou’s team-leadership ability, and the circus of uncertainty that usually surrounds a coach during his first year with a new squad. The Sixers appear to be equipped with adequate answers, but will need breakout seasons from some promising players if they hope to improve upon their finish from last year and make some noise in an ever-improving Eastern Conference.
Carey Smith says…
In late August, I closely examined the 2009-10 Sixers on paper and then penciled this team in for 32 – 37 wins and a 9th or 10th place finish in the Eastern Conference. At the time, the 76ers fan in me was greatly disappointed, maybe even pissed with the results I had scribbled down. After all we just made the playoffs two seasons in a row and while I know we lost Andre Miller, Elton Brand is back to bolster the bigs and a legit 3-ball threat in Jason Kapono was added to the lineup. So the team should at least hold the line on the 2008-09 season, possibly even improve on last year’s outcome.
However the basketball guy inside me (the one who doesn’t wear the red, white and blue shades) looks at things with a much clearer head and back in August that side of me realized that the Sixers are facing a lot of daunting challenges in 2009-10. They are a reworked team missing its on-court leader (Andre Miller) with a new coach and a complicated new offensive system that is playing in the now beefed up Eastern Conference. That combination is the hoops recipe for a step back if I have ever seen one. Additionally, on paper I still didn’t see significant improvements in their two weakest areas from 2008-09 – outside shooting and defense (Kapono while a great shooter, isn’t a starter in this League and he’s awful on defense, so please don’t pretend like he’s going to be this team’s savior.).
Unfortunately, my basketball guy thoughts from late this summer were simply confirmed by the Sixers play in the preseason. The things I saw and read about were exactly what the basketball guy inside me feared back in August. The Sixers are struggling to mesh all their new parts, they’re struggling with Eddie Jordan’s new Princeton offense, they still can not hit the three (At times even Kapono could not find the bucket.) and their defense while improved continues to have periods where it is suspect at best. What terrified me even more was that these old ills resurfaced against preseason competition such as Toronto (w/out Bosh & Hedo), the Nets and the Knicks. Not exactly the kings of the Eastern Conference.
So I am sticking with my August prediction – 35 wins and a 9th or 10th place finish, but I pray hard that I am wrong.
However it’s not all doom and gloom for the 2009-10 Sixers. The fan and basketball guy inside me agree that the home team has several nice basketball parts on this year’s squad and while we won’t win a ton, there is no doubt that we will all witness exciting basketball on a nightly basis. So you should tune in.
With athletes like AI9, Louis and Thad, when / if the Princeton offense is flowing right, it will be a beautiful thing to watch. Kapono should provide some late game heroics here and there. Plus Elton Brand looks like he is ready to return to his All-Star self. You know Louis will have the run-n-gun in high gear and watching Speights and Thad break out on the national NBA stage in 2009-10 will bring a giant smile to our faces. So sit back and enjoy the highs from the 2009-10 season and try not to worry too much about the lows.
Think of them as growing pains for a franchise that appears to be pointed in the right direction.
Jeff McMenamin says…
The 2009-10 Sixers will turn out to be the best Sixers team since the 2000-01 season where they made the NBA Finals. The team will finish (50-32) second in the Atlantic Division and fourth overall in the Eastern Conference. The biggest turn around for this team from a year ago is a healthy Elton Brand, three-point shooting, and defense. Elton Brand has not played a full season since 2006-07 where he dominated with averages of 20 points and 9 rebounds per game. I believe Brand will be able to play to that level this season and carry the Sixers to a high seed in the East.
Three-point shooting was one of the major concerns for the team last season but with the addition of Jason Kapono to the outside, as well as the new Princeton offense incorporated by coach Eddie Jordan, look for plenty of open looks from downtown for Sixers like Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala, and even Willie Green this season.
With Brand and Sammy Dalembert down low, look for the Sixers post defense to be among the tops in not only the Eastern Conference but the entire NBA. Sammy always has needed help to defend down low and now he has his man. As for perimeter defense, Lou Williams is a major step up from Andre Miller and shooting guard defense is still in question, but as long as Willie Green, Jason Kapono, and Royal Ivey can play serviceable D, then the Sixers will be one of the best defensive teams in the League.
In the playoffs look for this team to finally move past the first round of the playoffs, and give whoever comes in first in the East a run for their money in the second round. I believe this team has the ability to beat the Cavs, Magic, or Celtics in a seven game series but they’re going to have to go out and show it. All three of these teams have great veteran players and have played in the NBA Finals. Andre Iguodala will have to keep players like Lebron James, Vince Carter, and Paul Pierce in check for the Sixers to hold any chance.