The Sports Bank will be counting down to the opening tip of the 2012-13 NBA season with team by team previews starting with the worst and working our way to the title contenders. There is no lockout this time around so let’s get going.
The Philadelphia 76ers made a major splash in the off-season by trading Andre Iguodala for Andrew Bynum in a four-team deal. The Sixers are hoping Bynum is able to stay healthy and help put them in contention for the Eastern Conference title.
2011-12: 35-31, 8th in Eastern Conference
Predicted EC Finish: 6th
Projected Depth Chart:
C: Andrew Bynum/Spencer Hawes/Kwame Brown
PF: Thaddues Young/Lavoy Allen/Arnett Moultrie
SF: Evan Turner/Dorell Wright/Damien Wilkins
SG: Jason Richardson/Nick Young
PG: Jrue Holiday/Royal Ivey/Maalik Wayns
Philadelphia’s off-season was: bold. Philly made a big move by swapping Andre Iguodala for Bynum who is in the final year of his contract. By making that deal, they ultimately anointed Bynum as their franchise player even though he could bolt the City of Brotherly Love after this season. It was an aggressive move that could pay off big time or massively backfire. Re-signing Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen, and trading a future first round pick to draft Arnett Moultrie ensured quality depth up-front which was needed after the team wisely decided to amnesty the bust that is Elton Brand.
Other than that, Philly made a few key moves on the wing to replace Iggy by acquiring Jason Richardson and Dorell Wright while signing Nick Young to an affordable one-year deal. Neither will be able to single-handedly replace the all-around versatility that Iguodala did but the trio should provide some offensive firepower.
2012-2013 will be a success if: the Sixers can maintain their balance. Not only did they lose Iguodala but leading scorer Lou Williams is also gone. Philly was an extremely balanced team last season with eight guys averaging at least eight points per game. Bynum will obviously be the go-to option down low when he’s on the floor and there is enough balance between Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Young, Richardson, and Hawes to duplicate the balance of last year.
With Iggy gone though, I think the difference could be Turner’s development in his third year in the association. He hasn’t burst onto the scene like you would expect a second overall pick to do but his ability to play multiple positions on the floor suddenly thrusts him into becoming the new Iguodala.
2012-2013 will be a disappointment if: Bynum can’t get healthy. The big man has battled injury throughout his seven year NBA career and spent part of the offseason in Germany getting therapy on his knee. He hasn’t been cleared to practice yet which not only puts his status in the air for the season opener but also opens up the door for speculation on whether or not this will be a lingering problem that forces him to miss time during the year.
While Hawes is serviceable in the middle, Bynum is without question the key to how much success Philly will have this season. If he can’t stay healthy and then ends up signing elsewhere in the summer; this move will setback the Sixers franchise.
Looking ahead to next summer: What happens with Bynum is obviously the biggest question. It’s hard to believe that Philadelphia is willing to offer him a monster extension if he can’t stay healthy and Bynum would be wise to test the open market to see what other suitors are craving his size and skill inside.
Young and Wright both become free agents and Holiday is in the final guaranteed year of his rookie contract meaning he will be a restricted free agent next summer if a contract extension is not agreed upon. Philly could potentially have a ton of cap space depending on what happens with Bynum or could be in a situation where they are somewhat limited with their spending if Bynum is retained.
OTHER NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEWS:
#7 Chicago Bulls
#8 Toronto Raptors
#9 Milwaukee Bucks
#10 Detroit Pistons
#11 Atlanta Hawks
#12 Cleveland Cavaliers
#13 Orlando Magic
#14 Washington Wizards
#15 Charlotte Bobcats
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 and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)