Over the past several weeks, everyone in Philadunkia nation has been discussing how dreadful the Philadelphia 76ers will be on the court next season. After all, they don’t even have a coach yet, Michael Carter-Williams will most likely average at least 4 turnovers per game and the team’s best three point threat is arguably Spencer Hawes.
But, instead of just brushing it aside and saying, “Yeah, they’re going to suck, but they’re going to be so fun to watch in two-three years,” why don’t we take a look and actually try to predict what this team will look like on the court by 2015-2016.
Based on several reoccurring themes in General Manager Sam Hinkie’s press conferences, his draft picks and offseason acquisitions, we actually can make an educated guess on the rough foundation and style of play Hinkie is envisioning for the Sixers once this rebuilding process starts to win some regular season games.
In order to do so, let’s take a look at the strengths and skills of Hinkie’s three draft picks, his two acquisitions and his thought process that he has shared publicly.
No. 6 overall pick: Nerlens Noel, 7-0, C, Kentucky
Strengths and Skills: Height and size, athleticism, shot-blocking and defense, high energy, high basketball IQ
No. 11 overall pick: Michael Carter-Williams, 6-7, PG, Syracuse
Strengths and Skills: Height and size, athleticism, ball-hawking defense, ability to get to rim, draw contact and finish, high basketball IQ, high motor
No. 58 overall pick: Arsalan Kazemi, 6-8, F, Oregon
Strengths and Skills: High energy and motor, smart and scrappy defender, high basketball IQ, smart slasher, foot speed
Waiver Acquisitions: James Anderson, 6-6, SG, Houston Rockets; Tim Ohlbrecht, 6-10, PF, Houston Rockets; Royce White, 6-8, PF, Houston Rockets; Furkan Aldemir, 6-10, PF, Turkey
General Manager Sam Hinkie
Notable Quote: “At the draft started this year, we were very focused on finding more talented players to add to our team. Finding more players who wanted to be hardworking, competitive everyday, trying to add to this pipeline of what we’re trying to build here in Philadelphia.”
It’s not too hard to tie all these pieces together and figure out the direction Hinkie is trying to take this organization and team. Take his three draft picks, for example. The GM took three players who have defense-first mindsets, play with a lot of energy and have high basketball IQ’s. Also, they’re all 6-7 or taller. Those draft picks forecast Hinkie trying to build a defensive juggernaut that likes to get out in transition.
Honestly, in two years, with Noel defending the rim and some very stingy perimeter defenders, it’s not unrealistic to predict that this team will force 16 turnovers per game and score around 20 ppg. in transition. Basically, this team is going to be playing an up-tempo, exciting style similar to the Golden State Warriors of last season and Steve Nash’s Phoenix Suns (with a better defensive effort).
Yes, that’s something that will take time to foster, but it’s not completely impossible if these high-motor players improve steadily over the next two-three seasons, especially when you consider that Hinkie’s analytical mind will likely push the team to shoot mostly threes and layups.
Consider the basketball mind-set and physical build of the guys, including acquisitions, Hinkie is bringing in to Philadelphia. They’re all long (nobody is shorter than 6-6) and work hard while having a very high, yet-to-be-tapped ceiling. They’re all guys that Hinkie says, “get better when nobody is watching.” Hinkie could very well be trying to build a lineup of long and versatile players that are all 6-6 or taller that would make defensive rotations very dangerous. This team is going to have some very exciting practices in the near future.
With this foundation and direction in place, Hinkie just needs to fill in the pieces around his young building blocks to get this team competitive. Two likely draft picks in the lottery next season will help round out Hinkie’s starting lineup for 2014-2015.
What do they need to add? Hinkie needs to plug a shooter alongside MCW and Noel, along with a low-post presence on the block and another perimeter player who can get to the rim and create his own shot. If he can get two of those players in the lottery next June — obviously Andrew Wiggins is the most favored addition among fans — and bring in a veteran leader through free agency like Indiana has done with David West and Golden State did with Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack last season, the Sixers could arguably compete for the 8th Seed in the East just two years after wiping their roster almost completely clean. in letting go of Andrew Bynum and Jrue Holiday and letting their expiring contracts roll off the cap after this season.
Yes, next season will not be any sort of entertaining and the Sixers will likely struggle to win 30 games. However, with a smart and aggressive leader in Hinkie at the helm of the franchise, it’s not to unrealistic for his meticulously calculated plan to come to fruition very quickly and before you even know what happened.
Jake Fischer is a scribe for Philadunkia. You can follow him on Twitter @JakeLFischer
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