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NBA 2015-16 Team Previews: Philadelphia 76ers – Something Smells Hinkie

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Philadelphia 76ers

Our NBA 2015-16 Team Previews continues with the Atlantic Division. Next up it’s time to break down the Philadelphia 76ers:

Record:  18-64 14th in the Eastern Conference, 4th in Atlantic Division, Failed to make playoffs

Rank: Offense: 93.0 (30)   Defense: 102.1 (13) Differential/Net: minus -9.1 (28) Pace: 98.3 (7)

2014-15

Key Stats:

  • Worst offense in league:
    • Points: 29th (92.0)
    • Field Goal Percent 29th (32.0)
    • 3-Point Percent: 29th (320%)
    • Offensive Efficiency: 30th (93.0)
  • Prior to trading Michael Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels the team’s defense (in the month of January) was functioning at a top 10 level.
  • The draft picks from the past 2 seasons has witnessed 6th pick: Nerlens Noel (2013) sitting out an entire season, 11th pick and Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams (2013) being traded to Milwaukee, 3rd pick: Joel Embiid (2014) sitting out all last season and looks like he’ll miss most if not all of this season after re-fracturing his foot and 12th pick: Dario Saric (2014) refusing to join the team while he continues to play in Europe.

Off Season Moves

Key Areas Needing Addressing:

  • Adding veteran experience
  • Making sure the young talent doesn’t become discouraged by constantly losing
  • Improve offensive skill set

Draft:

Player Additions/Players Re-Signed:

2015-16

Core Players:

Tony Wroten, Nik Stauskas Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington, Jahlil Okafor

Key Reserves:

Isaiah Canaan, Carl Landry, *Joel Embiid

*if he can rehab and get on the court it will be a huge win for the 76ers and the fan base.

Outlook

Rising Star:

Jahlil Okafor will be a strong candidate to win Rookie of the year and give 76er fans a bonafide reason to come to 76ers games especially now that the front court is shaping up. 

On The Bubble:

Rumblings regarding GM Sam Hinkie’s strategy of tanking have been making the rounds for a while, but those murmers recently gained volume via an S.I.com story.  Brian Geltzeiler said Hinkie is operating with his own mandate and further cited Joel Embiid as insubordinate. The story alludes Embiid may have re-broken his foot by not wearing his walking boot and Geltzeiler says the big man has disregarded the Sixers strength and training staff and been aggressively rude. Coach Brown flatly denied the story though if there are problems, a good coach isn’t going to air dirty laundry in public.

In fairness to Embiid , Kevin Durant had to undergo a second surgery on his foot so it’s plausible the bone just didn’t heal properly. He’s also only 21 years old with an injury that has kept him off the court for the entirety of his career, which has to be extremely frustrating.  Suffice to say, these situations are never purely black or white.  With the plethora of youngsters who’ve experienced the revolving 76er doors though, it’s seems unfathomable one of them not getting to recognize his dream wouldn’t have leaked something if these Embiid stories held real merit. As for the Hinkie portion, see my prediction below for more on this subject.

X-Factors:  Nik Stauskas started off well in Sacramento under the tutelage of Mike Malone, but once he was fired the Canadian seemed to lose confidence. In Philly he’ll get minutes and offers a solid 3-point sniper who is a willing student and should thrive under Brett Brown’s tutelage.

Carl Landry isn’t that far removed from being a solid contributor to the young Warriors team that broke through in 2012 allowing him to cash in with Sacramento in free agency. Then he underwent hip surgery and never saw much time on the court for the Kings. If you watched Marreese Speights with the Warriors this summer that role was originally played by Landry who was equally if not more successful at it scoring 10.8 points on  54% from the field while grabbing 6 rebounds in 23 minutes. He’ll likely be leaned on to provide a veteran voice in the locker room, and if he can return to his Warrior form he’ll pay dividends for the Sixers on and off the court.

Best Case:  The 76ers just don’t have the depth to compete.  However if Brett Brown can get his squad to provide consistent effort they could catch a few elite teams by surprise resulting in a confidence boost.  Tony Wroten is perfectly suited for a back-up point guard and if the Sixers get their way the starting position will be filled this coming summer. At that point assuming Embiid is ready they’ll have one of the most athletic and talented starting 5 in the Association and then Hinkie can start spending money on solid veterans with leadership skills and add depth to their bench.

Worst Case:  The absolute worst case scenario would be if Embiid’s foot ends up being a chronic issue, Dario Saric never comes over and no quality point guards are available in the draft this summer when the Sixers pick.

Prediction:

In terms of the Hinkie story outlined above,  respected journalist Zach Lowe adds veracity to the rumors indicating there is noise from teams, agents and the NBA inner circles regarding how the Sixers’ GM is running the show.

Regardless if you agree with Hinkie’s patient rebuild strategy there is concern these youngsters will reach a saturation point of constantly losing. If that occurs it could  lead to these prospects bolting the first chance they get or forcing the Sixers into matching max contracts. Surely the Sixers are edging ever closer to that time frame after 3 straight seasons of bottom dwelling where they compiled only 71 wins of a possible 246 or 28.8%.

On the other hand, the fact Hinkie grabbed another potential ROY winner and literally stole Stauskas for nothing bodes well for him.  Especially if everything goes right beginning with Embiid returning healthy, nabbing a top point guard in this summer’s draft and then maybe Saric decides to finally join the team.  Having spent the least amount of money during the past 4 seasons Hinkie’s  patience is only surpassed by the fact Philly’s fan base hasn’t rioted in revolt.

It’s conceivable everything could fall perfectly into place after one more year of tanking. Depending on who you follow for your draft prospect advice the pundits are torn on whether this will be a strong or weak point guard class. There is no denying if Philly gets to pick first 18 year old Canadian Jamal Murray has already warranted enough head turns to rank ahead of all others.

He is attending Kentucky this season, but it was his performance at the Nike Hoop Summit and Pan Am Games this summer that shot him into prominence. At the Summit he scored 30 points a feat only Kevin Durant and Nicolas Batum accomplished at the Summit and then at the Pan Am Games he single handedly beat the US team. He’s 6’4″, 207 pounds and probably better suited to the 2 guard but um wasn’t Russell Westbrook as well?

If all falls into place for the 76ers GM  and he ends up with  a starting 5 of:

then the sound you’ll hear coming from Philly won’t be the Liberty Bell it’ll be Hinkie having the last and loudest laugh!

Games versus the Houston Rockets:

  • November 27th at Toyota Center in Houston
  • March 9th at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia

Fansided Affiliate Site:  The Sixer Sense

Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

Next: Rockets Preview

Next: Nets Preview

Next: SCS Complete Round Table Sessions

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