Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Philadelphia 76ers 2009-10 Season Preview

After the Philadelphia 76ers signed Elton Brand in the 2008 offseason, everyone expected them to become one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, possibly challenging for a top 3 seed. That never materialized, as Brand's slower style did not mesh with the Sixers breakneck pace. The team struggled mightily out of the gate, only getting back on track once head coach Maurice Cheeks was fired and Elton Brand got injured, allowing them to fully go back to their fast style which made them so successful the previous year.

Due to financial constraints (in part because of Brand), there weren't very many additions in Philadelphia. The biggest story of their offseason was the departure of Andre Miller, the point guard and catalyst of the offense, who signed with the Portland Trailblazers. That gives the PG role to Lou Williams. He is an explosive player with the ball in his hands, but it is hard to know how he will perform as the playmaker of the offense. He great in transition or getting the ball to the basket (and getting to the free throw line), but it will be interesting to see how well he can facilitate.

Their best player is Andre Iguodala, who is solid offensively and defensively on the wing. He has come into his own over the past few seasons, and has a chance to make his first all-star game this season. He is not a great offensive player, but his athleticism allows him to fly around the court. He is an excellent finisher at the rim, and he is getting better and better shooting the basketball. Defensively, he uses his quickness to be a pest, making him one of the best wing defenders in the game.

The future of the team looks to be Thaddeus Young, a star in the making. Entering his third season, he is still only 21 years old, and made huge strides from year one to two. He averaged over 15 points per game at age 20, and looks poised to make another leap in year three. If he can continue to progress, then he can be the key cornerstone for the 76ers as they try to get back to their success from the 1970s and 1980s.

Down low, they will look to Mareese Speights and Elton Brand. Speights has a very high ceiling, as he was wildly efficient last season scoring and rebounding the ball. Elton Brand is a little harder to figure out. We know that when things are right, he can be one of the most productive players in the NBA. However, they have to fit him in their system, which was a huge problem last year. If they can, Philly will be right back in the hunt for a playoff spot.

What are your thoughts on Philly?