Philadelphia 76ers Season Preview

29 09 2008

My NBA Atlantic Division preview continues with the Philadelphia 76ers:

Philadelphia 76ers

2007-08 Standings 40 – 42, 7th Eastern Conference 

2008-09 Predicted Record 50 – 32, 2nd Atlantic Division, 5th Eastern Conference

Projected Starting Five: Samuel Dalembert, Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young, Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller

Sixth Man: Willie Green

Andre Miller in action versus the Mavs

The theme for the Philadelphia 76ers of 2008 – 09 could well be hope. It could equally well be expectation. That’s what comes from a solid 07 – 08 season and post season (pushing the mighty Pistons to 6 games) and an even more impressive off season.

What made the off season so special? The acquisition of Elton Brand, a low post stud has vaulted the 76ers in many people’s eyes into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. However the expectation that Brand’s acquisition has brought brings with it pressure and ultimately how the 76ers deal with this will dictate how this team goes. 

Last season this was Andre Miller’s team as he brought professional and calmness to a team that had lost their iconic player, Allen Iverson. Miller brought on the kiddies and some of them developed into studs, especially the 6-6 Andre Iguodala. The team also has the young Thaddeus Young, a player with tremendous potential. This season is more of the same, Brand is experienced enough to appreciate the talents of Miller and the two of them should gel well. The key will be how the remainder of the young 76ers adjust to the All Star’s arrival. 

Ultimately the 76ers are not quite ready to compete with the Celtics and the better teams in the west. In a couple of years this team could well be title contenders but they need some seasoning first. 

Coach: 

A former 76er as a player Maurice Cheeks is a good fit with this team. The players respect him and he got them to develop nicely last year. The challenge will be in continuing to develop and managing the expectations of the fans who suddenly believe they have a championship quality squad. 

Bench: 

The 76er bench has a solid feel with shooters of various sizes – Willie Green, Kareem Rush and Donyell Marshall and bangers such as Reggie Evans. Theo Ratliff brings a reassuring defensive presence though his best days are well in the past. 

Star Player:  

Andre Iguodala is a high flying young star capable of energizing a crowd with his moves. To develop into a true stud he’ll need to develop a reliable outside shot and also adjust to perhaps not as many touches with Brand around. 

Team MVP: 

Many will be looking to Elton Brand to transform the 76ers in the same way that Kevin Garnett transformed the Celtics but the key to this will be how Andre Miller controls the team and the tempo. Ultimately how the floor general controls the game and touches of his young charges will dictate how far the 76ers go. 

Final Prognosis: 

With Brand’s acquisition the 76ers are now one of the better teams in the East. Expect them to improve on last year’s result and get out of the first round, just don’t expect them there in May and June.

You can find an index of past Previews here.

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