2015-16 NBA Record: 10-72
Additions: Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu (draft), Gerald Henderson (Portland Trail Blazers), Sergio Rodriguez (Real Madrid Baloncesto), Jerryd Bayless (Milwaukee Bucks), Dario Saric (Anadolu Efes)
Subtractions: Isaiah Canaan (Chicago Bulls), Ish Smith (Detroit Pistons), Christian Wood (Charlotte Hornets), Kendall Marshall (traded to Utah Jazz), Carl Landry (waived)
Projected Starting Lineup (via basketball.realgm.com)
PG – Jerryd Bayless
SG – Nik Stauskas
SF – Ben Simmons
PF – Jahlil Okafor
C – Nerlens Noel
20 years after drafting Allen Iverson #1 overall in the 1996 draft, the Sixers are hoping they have found The Answer in #1 pick Ben Simmons. Simmons played well in the Summer League, showing flashes of his ability as a facilitator. The former LSU star has been compared to players such as Lamar Odom and even LeBron James. However, the 76ers currently have a plethora of options in the frontcourt, with Simmons caught in a logjam with Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, as well as pseudo-rookies Dario Saric and Joel Embiid. The #1 pick could end up playing in the small forward spot this season and despite possessing an unreliable jumper, he has the court vision and passing skills to possibly play some minutes at the point.
The multiple options in the frontcourt creates a good problem for coach Brett Brown, who has endured a career coaching record of 47-199, having yet to record a 20 win season. Okafor possesses a great low-post game for a young player and could potentially be one of the elites in this area of the game. Noel is already one of the top young defensive players in the league, leading the 76ers in defensive rebounds and steals last year, while also finishing second in blocks on his team. Sixers’ fans should also be excited about Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, who were picked in the 2014 draft at #3 and #12 respectively. Saric showcased an aggressive edge at the Olympics, while Embiid was considered a one of a kind big man talent with his combination of size and athleticism, but injury has prevented him from playing a single game in his career.
Gerald Henderson was acquired in free agency and will be a solid veteran presence for this young squad. Jerryd Bayless was added to fill the void at point guard left by Isaiah Canaan and Ish Smith. The Sixers also signed Sergio Rodriguez to a 1 year/$8 million contract, who is a top playmaker coming out of Europe. Rodriguez had a couple of stints in the NBA before perfecting his craft in Europe, where he led Real Madrid to a championship last season, as well as leading the league in assists. Robert Covington and Jerami Grant are also players to watch out for. Covington was under-the-radar last year, averaging 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds, as well as making an impact on the defensive end. Grant’s athleticism got him a spot in Brett Brown’s rotation, averaging 10.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. However, minutes for these two may be limited, with Simmons, Saric and Embiid all playing this season.
The Sixers aren’t expected to make a splash this year, but their mentality has slowly shifted away from the tanking method. Over the past few years, they have drafted players who can make a big contribution right away. There is a gap for an elite point guard, which is why the Sixers should look for what they can get in return for Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel. I think that at some point this year, the Sixers should try and play Ben Simmons at point guard. He’s clearly a pass-first point-forward and with many options under the post in Okafor and Embiid, Simmons won’t need to attack the rim as often. Embiid is a much needed help since the 76ers have had the NBA’s worst offensive rating the last few seasons (below 99.0 each year). They won’t make the playoffs, but they can certainly trouble some teams during the season.
Prediction: 5th in Atlantic Division