Team Preview #17: Philadelphia 76ers
by Eric Wong AKA Roto EvilAugust 26th, 2008
LAST SEASONThe Sixers went 40-42 and made the Playoffs for the first time since '04-05. They put up a fight against Detroit, but lost in 6 games.
They were a very poor shooting team, finishing last in 3-pointers made (3.7 per game), last in 3P% (31.7%), and last in FT% (70.6%). However, their defense was solid as they limited opponents to just 96.2 points per game (7th).
OFFSEASON MOVESKey Additions: Elton Brand, Kareem Rush, Theo Ratliff, Royal Ivey, Marreese Speights
Key Losses: Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth, Kevin Ollie
Philly spent a lot of money this summer, as they re-signed Andre Iguodala for $80 million over 6 years and Louis Williams for $25 million over 5 years. But of course, their big free agency splash was signing All-Star power forward Elton Brand to a 5-year, $80 million contract. Over the past 20 years, Brand is one of just 5 players to average 20 and 10 for his career (Duncan, Shaq, Garnett, and David Robinson are the others), so he's a rock solid pickup to say the least.
Meanwhile, the 76ers were also able to easily upgrade all of the players that they lost. They sent the athletic swingman Carney and the overpaid 7-footer Booth to Minnesota to clear up cap space, and then replaced them with Kareem Rush (a superior shooter) and Theo Ratliff (a steady veteran presence). For point guard depth, they let the defensive-minded 35-year old Ollie go, and replaced him with a defensive-minded 26-year old in Royal Ivey. In the draft, they also picked up the talented big man Marreese Speights, who averaged a cool 18.2 points, 10.2 boards, and 2.2 blocks in the Vegas Summer League.
ROTATION / PLAYING TIMEAt point guard, Andre Miller has played in 80+ games EVERY SEASON of his 9 year career. He's re-uniting with Elton Brand (both were Clippers in '02-03) and is a free agent after this season, so he should be a lock for 36-37 solid minutes every night. Iguodala played mostly small forward last season, but I'm expecting him to slide over to shooting guard in '08-09. He ranked 6th in minutes per game in each of the past 2 seasons, so you know you're getting 38-40 mpg from Iggy. The first guard off the bench will be the explosive Louis Williams, who averaged 23.4 mpg last season and should play about the same this year. Willie Green started 74 games at shooting guard and saw 26.6 mpg in '07-08, but I'm projecting a bench role and under 20 minutes of action for him this season.
20-year old Thaddeus Young is expected to start at small forward. I'm projecting 26-28 mpg for him, which is what he averaged after the All-Star break. Backing him up will be the sharpshooting Kareem Rush. As I said before, the 76ers were dead last in threes made and 3P% last season, so don't be surprised if Rush plays a key role. I'll project just 12-14 minutes for him to start the season, but he could easily move ahead of Green in the rotation if he plays solid D. Elton Brand averaged a career-low 34.3 mpg in '07-08, but if he's 100% healthy, he's a lock for 38 minutes per game. At center, Samuel Dalembert played a career-high 33.2 mpg in '07-08, but that number is likely to drop around 30-32 due to improved frontcourt depth. Reggie Evans started 61 games and played 23.2 mpg last season, but he'll be lucky to receive even 15 minutes with Brand around. The rookie Speights and the 35-year old Ratliff will battle for the remaining big man minutes that Jason Smith received last season. Smith had a solid rookie campaign, but unfortunately, he tore his ACL a few weeks ago and will be out of action for a long time.
DON'T SLEEP ON: Louis WilliamsI've already pointed out Philly's 3-point shooting woes, but this cannot be understated if you ask me. As a team, they made just 302 threes (for comparison, Orlando made 801 and the league average was 537), but Carney & Korver made 38 each (both gone), Giricek made 5 (gone), and Smith made 4 (injured), which means their returning roster made just 217 threes in '07-08! And of those returning players, only 1 shot over 35% from beyond the arc. Lou Williams is better known for his sick hops, but he made 55 threes last season on 35.9% 3P shooting. Iggy shot just 32.9% 3P last year and Willie Green was a terrible 28.6%, so Williams and Rush are the 76ers' top outside shooting threats. He's still just 21, but he's proven to be an explosive scorer in the NBA.
It's hard to project a big stat increase for Lou, because he's stuck behind Dre (who never misses games), Iggy (who rarely rests), and maybe even Green (who's much stronger). However, since the Sixers desperately need some 3-point shooting (and they just gave Williams $25 million), I think they'll find a way to increase his role in '08-09. Their most athletic & offensively explosive lineup is probably a small team of: Williams, Miller, Iguodala, Young, and Brand, so expect that unit to play together every now and then.
What kind of stat potential does Sweet Lou have? Well, if you project his '07-08 stats over 36 minutes, he'd average: 17.8 points, 4.9 assists, 1.6 steals, .3 blocks, 1.1 threes, and 5.6 free throw attempts per game. Those are very sweet numbers indeed, and Williams still has a lot of room for improvement. If you're in a deep league, he's an excellent last round upside pick.
BE CAREFUL OF: Samuel DalembertUsing cumulative stats, Dalembert was a Top 10 center last season. That's because he didn't miss a single game (for the 2nd year in a row) and finished 3rd in total blocks and 4th in total rebounds. He shot over 51% from the field for the 4th year in a row and over 70% from the line for the 3rd year in a row. Clearly, there are a lot of things to like about the 7-footer from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.
Unfortunately, some of his stats (the 33.2 minutes and 10.3 rebounds in particular) are likely to fall with Elton Brand now in the mix, not to mention the additions of Speights & Ratliff as well. And while playing in all 82 games the past 2 years despite battling foot problems is pretty solid, I think the chances of him doing it for a 3rd year in a row are rather slim. And then there's the Canadian National team controversy. While Team USA players are entering the season on a high from winning Gold, Dalembert was kicked off Team Canada for being a prima donna and his team didn't even qualify for the Olympics. He's still a solid center, but be careful about drafting him too soon.
ROUND BY ROUND TARGETS(Where you should draft these guys in an 8-cat Roto league with 12 teams and 14 man rosters)
Brand: Late 1st - 2nd