PROJECTEDSTARTING FIVE with 2006-07 statistics
KEY BENCHPLAYERS: F Kyle Korver, F Rodney Carney, G Louis Williams, G Kevin Ollie, CCalvin Booth* *New acquisition
Record: 35-47(10th in East) Points scored: 94.9 (26th in NBA) Points allowed: 98.0 (11th)Coach: Maurice Cheeks (third season with 76ers)
During afive-week stretch this off-season, the Atlantic Division resembled the floor ofthe New York Stock Exchange. Wheeling and dealing at a frenetic pace, theCeltics (acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen), Knicks (Zach Randolph), Nets(Jamaal Magloire, re-signing Vince Carter) and Raptors (Jason Kapono) drove upthe value of their rosters. There wasn't much bidding by the 76ers, however,whose big summer pickup was 6' 8" forward Reggie Evans--last seen bolted tothe Nuggets' bench in the first round of the playoffs.
Opening theirfirst season since 1996-97 without Allen Iverson, the 76ers have one of theleague's youngest rosters (average NBA experience: 3.3 years), a group thatdoes not have an All-Star Game appearance among them. "We're going to haveto teach, teach and teach some more," says coach Maurice Cheeks.
Yet time isn't onthe coach's side; he's in the final year of his three-year contract. MakingCheeks's job even more complicated is center Samuel Dalembert's recovery from astress fracture in his right foot. (He is expected to be in the starting lineupfor the Oct.¬†31 opener but might not be at full strength.)
Any glimmer ofhope in Philly is based on how well the team played after trading Iverson toDenver in December and jettisoning Chris Webber four weeks later. Those movescleared the way for the emergence of another AI, fourth-year guard AndreIguodala. Point guard Andre Miller, acquired from the Nuggets in the Iversontrade, is a stabilizing influence, and Evans is a rebounding machine (anNBA-best 19.7 rebounds per 48 minutes). "Our veterans can play," saysCheeks. "They are hardworking guys who are also very intelligent."
Still, it willtake a superlative effort from them all for Philly to avoid spending the seasonat the bottom of the division.
An opposingteam's scout sizes up the 76ers
As a team theSixers are in better shape than a lot of people thought they'd be in aftertrading Allen Iverson, but in the end they won't have enough talent or depth tomake the playoffs. . . . Andre Iguodala is a valuable asset, and you can buildaround him, but I don't know if he's the guy who's going to carry your team. .. . Andre Miller has a history of starting off slow, and there isn't muchbehind him. They're trying to make Louis Williams into a point guard becausehe's really small. And Kevin Ollie is last-resort insurance. . . . Kyle Korveris a feared catch-and-shoot guy. He works very well off screens, he knows howto read the defense, and he squares up quickly and gets the shots up. . . . Itwill be interesting to see how Shavlik Randolph does because he was playingwell before he got hurt last November. He gets offensive rebounds, and he's bigand strong and quick to the basket. . . . Coach Maurice Cheeks's guys like toplay for him, and they respect him, though sometimes he looks a littledisorganized.
Kyle Korver took46.5% of the Sixers' 284 three-point shots last season and led the team with a.430 percentage shooting from beyond the arc; no other player in the league hada larger share of his team's attempts.
STARTING LINEUP: AL TIELEMANS; MICHAEL LEBRECHT/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (3); AL TIELEMANS
Iguodala, the new AI, has emerged as the 76ers' top player.