As the eight seed in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers nearly pulled off consecutive upsets to advance to the league finals. Despite that post-season run, the Sixers enter the off-season with several off-season questions as they hope to build towards next year.
Philadelphia 76ers (35-31 last year)
2011-12 Season Summary:
Somehow, the Philadelphia 76ers came within one game of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. They received a monster-sized gift when the top seeded Bulls lost Derrick Rose in the opening game of their first round match-up and then took an aging, banged up Celtics team to seven games before being ousted from the playoffs.
Balance was the key for Doug Collins’ Sixers. Two of the team’s top three scorers (Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young) combined to start just one game. While that says plenty regarding Philly’s ability to get solid contributions from their bench, it also speaks volumes about their inability to get star performances from the likes of Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, and Evan Turner.
Iguodala is still a solid all-around player who can chip in a little bit in every aspect of the game, he is far from a reliable scorer which somebody earning his yearly salary of $13-plus million should be doing. Brand remains to be a shadow of himself after a series of nagging injuries derailed his career and one of the most overpaid players in the league (11 & 7 from a dude who made more than $17 million this past season is straight up robbery.)
Turner showed some progress during his second season as a pro and raised his game in the playoffs, but still has yet to live up to his status of being the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Jrue Holiday actually took a step back while Spencer Hawes actually showed some sort of resemblence of being a legit NBA center though he dealt with injury issues throughout the year.
With their struggles to score the ball at times, the Sixers had to rely on their stingy defense which allowed the third least points and held opponents to the third worst shooting percentage in the league.
2012-13 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Nikola Vucevic
PF: #Elton Brand/*Lavoy Allen
SF: Andre Iguodala/Thaddeus Young/*Sam Young
SG: Evan Turner/*Jodie Meeks/*Xavier Silas
PG: Jrue Holiday/#Lou Williams
NBA Free Agents:
C-Spencer Hawes (UFA)
F-Craig Brackins (UFA)
C-Tony Battie (UFA)
#PF-Elton Brand (PO)
#PG-Lou Williams (PO)
*SG-Jodie Meeks (RFA)
*PF-Lavoy Allen (RFA)
*SF-Sam Young (RFA)
*SG-Xavier Silas (RFA)
2012-13 Team Salary: approximately $50.7 million
With Spencer Hawes a free agent, that leaves 2011 first round pick Nikola Vucevic as the only true big man under contract for next season. Philly was forced to play Elton Brand and even Lavoy Allen out of position at center which at times worked, but certainly is not the ideal situation. First off, the 76ers need to decide whether or not Hawes is worth signing to an extension that could cost anywhere from five-eight million a year. If he ends up leaving Philadelphia, the 76ers will have to find an affordable replacement via free agency (affordable since they don’t have a ton of cap space) or hope they can draft some size with the 15th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft to help fill the void in the middle. Anyone they draft at 15 though, isn’t likely to make a major impact right away.
2. Shop Iggy:
It seems like Iguodala’s name comes up on the trade rumor mill every summer and the up-coming months won’t be much different. Iggy is entering the final year of guaranteed money and while he is a valuable asset due to his all-around game, paying him nearly $15 million next season is an awful lot of coin. If Philadelphia can acquire a go-to scorer or starting center in exchange for Iguodala, they could very well pull the trigger especially if it helps their cap situation for next season.
3. Williams and Meeks?:
With Lou Williams holding a team option on the final year of his contract and Jodie Meeks being a restricted free agent, Sixers’ GM Rod THorn has some decisions to make regarding his backcourt depth. Williams is due a respectable $6.3 million next season but could opt out in hopes of landing a long-term extension. How much is he worth though? It’s a similar situation for Meeks who doesn’t even make a million dollars but has become a solid option off their bench. Philly does have the right to match any offer Meeks signs, but I wouldn’t break the bank to keep him around.
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David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.Follow paulmbanks