Is Andrew Bynum the answer? Only twice in seven NBA seasons has he played in 80% or more of his team's games, a stat that grew more ominous when he was held out of training camp to protect his worrisome knees. (He was expected to begin practicing this week.) When healthy, Bynum must prove that he can be Philadelphia's No. 1 option—a role he has never played in the NBA.
The reliance on Bynum means a fundamental change in the way the Sixers play. Last year they took Boston to a seventh game in the conference semis by being an up-tempo, small-ball team. Now they'll be funneling the ball inside while trying to spread the floor for Bynum. To do that, talented point guard Jrue Holiday will have to bring out the best in Jason Richardson, Nick Young and Spencer Hawes; and third-year swingman Evan Turner—charged with the thankless task of replacing Andre Iguodala, who went to Denver in the deal that brought Bynum to Philly—will need to have a breakout year.
COACH: Doug Collins (3rd season with the 76ers)
2011--12 RECORD: 35--31 (3rd in Atlantic)
OFFENSE: 93.6 ppg (T-22nd)
DEFENSE: 89.4 ppg (3rd)
PICK-AND-ROLL OFFENSE: 20.4 ppg (T-23rd)
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE 76ERS
I think they're worse than they were last year. At the same time, I understand why they traded Andre Iguodala's contract to get Andrew Bynum—they'd gone as far as they could playing to the style they played last year.... Across the board they're now a pretty big team that's going to be hard to score against. But who guards the three? Who guards Carmelo and LeBron and Pierce without Iguodala? ... Bynum's health and maturity would be my two big concerns if I was building my franchise around him. He's going to realize that those guys in L.A. made his life a lot easier.... Jrue Holiday should be able to play well with Bynum. Holiday is as good a cutter as anybody off the ball.... I'm not a fan of Evan Turner, and it's probably 50-50 around the league in terms of where people stand on him. He does a lot of things well but nothing great. He excelled within their style of play last year because he's pretty good in the early offense. He'd drive the ball to finish plays but not so much against the half-court defense.... I am not a believer in Nick Young. He jacks up bad shots, and he's all about Nick Young.
Holiday gets everyone involved, and the 76ers exploit the low-post scoring of a healthy Bynum to create mismatches.
The 76ers are forced to further tweak the roster in their effort to create a low-post offense in the NBA's new up-tempo world.
Minutes per game averaged by Andrew Bynum as a Laker last season. The only 76ers centers to average at least 35 minutes are Wilt Chamberlain (three times), Moses Malone (four times) and Dikembe Mutombo.
ROB CARR/GETTY IMAGES (HOLIDAY)
AL TIELEMANS (TURNER)