After a rocky season the 76ers will be looking to the NBA Draft and the trading table to round out their young core.
It was almost 11 months ago the Philadelphia 76ers launched themselves into a full scale rebuilding process. Following the calamity that was Andrew Bynum’s tenure in Philadelphia, the 76ers cut ties with then general manager Tony DiLeo and hired Sam Hinkie as the new GM.
Hinkie came out of the gates in an extremely aggressive fashion, deciding to sacrifice Philadelphia’s short-term prospects in favour of long-term rewards. The first step in this plan came during the 2013 NBA draft, when Hinkie sent the 76ers All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for the freshly drafted Nerlens Noel and the Pelicans’ 2014 first-round pick (top 5 protected).
Philadelphia then took Michael Carter-Williams with their own draft pick, establishing a young core around which to build.
Young coach Brett Brown was then hired to replace the retired Doug Collins, and immediately adopted the analytically fuelled style of play that Hinkie had brought over from the Rockets, eschewing inefficient mid-range jump shots in favour of shots at the rim or three-point attempts. This shows in their shooting numbers with the 76ers being second only to Houston in the least amount of shots taken between 8 and 24 feet.
Unfortunately, no matter how efficient the shots you take are, you need to knock them down, something the 76ers failed to do this season. Philadelphia were in the bottom third of the league for shooting percentage from every zone on the floor except above the break three’s, clearly contributing to the league’s worst offensive rating.
Things were not so bad to begin with. At the All-Star break Philadelphia were 15-39, playing respectable, but not brilliant basketball. Hinkie then made his boldest move yet, trading away the team’s most productive players, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes. Following the these trades Philadelphia lost their next 17 games, winning just 4 of their last 23.
What next then for Philadelphia? With a roster that only contains one player over the age of 26, youth is the word of the day. Despite the 76ers struggles, Michael Carter-Williams had a promising season, winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award in the process, and projects to be a solid NBA point guard with All-Star potential.
At power forward Philadelphia should keep a hold of Thaddeus Young, a young big man who can knock down outside shots and averaged a career high 17.9 points per game this year. While Nerlens Noel didn’t play a game this year due to his torn ACL, Philadelphia are hoping that he can anchor the defence next year as a Tyson Chandler-type center.
The 76ers real assets, however, are its 3rd and 10th pick in the upcoming draft. At the number three spot Philadelphia seems set to pick up one of the truly transcendent talents available.
Either one of Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker would undoubtedly be the 76ers ideal pick due to the vacancy at the small forward slot and should they land either of these players the franchise will be hoping to build a championship team around them.
With Wiggins or Parker slotted in at the small forward spot, the Sixers will be searching for the final piece of the jigsaw, a shooting guard. The first option available to them is to use their number 10 pick to draft one of the many talented shooting guards in the class of 2014. Nik Stauskas, Gary Harris and Zach LaVine may all be options for the 76ers, and all offer different talents. Stauskas has proven himself as an excellent shooter, an invaluable asset for any NBA team, while Harris’ calling card will be his ability of the defensive end of the floor.
LaVine is one of the riskiest options in the draft as he displayed some erratic tendencies while at UCLA, but his tantalizing athletic ability may too much for Philadelphia to pass on.
The Sixers’ second option will be to pick up a shooting guard via free agency. Due to Philadelphia’s absurd amount of cap space they could afford to be ambitious in their pursuit of a free agent.
The best 2-guard available this summer is Indiana Pacer Lance Stephenson, though whether Stephenson would wish to leave a championship contender for Philadelphia seems unlikely. Instead, the 76ers should go after a defensively minded off-guard such as Avery Bradley or the recently revitalised Shaun Livingston. Either of these players would complement Michael Carter-Williams nicely in the backcourt.
Things are not looking so grim then for the Philadelphia 76ers. A potential line-up of Noel, Young, Parker or Wiggins, Bradley, Carter-Williams would be one of the youngest and most exciting starting line-ups in the league, with the potential to do some serious damage should they stick together.