No franchise in the NBA has been more aggressive in its makeover than the 76ers, who apparently have no interest in fielding a competitive roster this season. That isn't necessarily a slight; with the decision to start fresh comes an opportunity to develop a pair of intriguing lottery picks (Kentucky center Nerlens Noel and Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams) and a sharp, first-time head coach (former Spurs assistant Brett Brown), all while angling for more high draft choices next summer. With a few breaks it could well be a winning strategy, and in the meantime Philly can focus on player development and asset management.
In regard to the latter, the most interesting piece on the roster is Thaddeus Young, a 25-year-old forward who, despite being the Sixers' best player, has even greater value as a trade chip. An undersized power forward (6'8", 230 pounds), Young is both an intuitive defender and a versatile scorer who works hard and takes an intelligent approach. He could be of use to potential playoff teams as a starter or a sixth man, and since his contract is on the books through 2014--15, GM Sam Hinkie will not feel rushed to make a deal.
It speaks volumes about the state of the Sixers that it makes sense for them to unload a young, talented, energetic and relatively inexpensive player who could fit into any system. But as good as Young could be as a building block, he's more valuable as a rebuilding chip.
COACH BRETT BROWN (1ST SEASON WITH 76ERS)
2012--13 RECORD: 34--48 (4TH IN ATLANTIC)
WHAT'S NEW The rookie coach will rebuild with a pair of lottery picks, C Nerlens Noel and PG Michael Carter-Williams.
PROJECTED LINEUP (2012--13 STATS)
PG M. CARTER-WILLIAMS (R)
11.9 PPG; 7.3 APG; 2.7 SPG; 39.3 FG%
SG EVAN TURNER
13.3 PPG; 6.3 RPG; 4.3 APG; 41.9 FG%
SF THADDEUS YOUNG
14.8 PPG; 7.5 RPG; 1.8 SPG; 53.1 FG%
PF LAVOY ALLEN
5.8 PPG; 5.0 RPG; 0.7 BPG; 45.4 FG%
C SPENCER HAWES
11.0 PPG; 7.2 RPG; 1.4 BPG; 46.4 FG%
SG JASON RICHARDSON
10.5 PPG; 3.8 RPG; 40.2 FG%; 34.1 3FG%
NEW ACQUISITION (R) ROOKIE (COLLEGE STATS)
MADE FREE THROWS per game last season by Philly, the lowest average ever. The Sixers rarely got to the line (29th in the league in tries) and often misfired when they did (25th in shooting, at 72.9%).
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE 76ERS
Two postseasons ago they took the Celtics to seven games. Now look at them. They had to put guys like Gani Lawal on the roster just to meet the minimum. It's going to be miserable.... Evan Turner is not the kind of scorer who takes over games, but you'll see the ball in his hands a lot because he can attack the seams and get into the lane. A guy who rebounds like he does from the two or three—you can't call him soft. He goes after the ball. You'd think he'd go to the line more.... I understand when they talk about wanting to bring back the joy of the game for Turner. As creative and ingenious as [former coach Doug] Collins was, it was very hard to figure out what the hell they were doing. Your report would be along the lines of, "I think this is what they're trying to get toward, but a lot of times they don't do what he's calling." And in spite of that, Turner always competed.... Lavoy Allen intrigues me. He came out of nowhere and had a good rookie season but didn't take the next step last year. At the end of shot clock in his rookie year he was able to knock down the shot because the other team was daring him; now as one of the central parts of the team, he's not going to have the open looks he did before.... They're going to depend on Michael Carter-Williams as a rookie point guard, which is a hard thing on a team without scorers.... The building is going to be empty this year—but would you rather have it be full and booing?
GEORGE BRIDGES/MCT/GETTY IMAGES (YOUNG)
TRADE BAIT YOUNG
DAMIAN STROHMEYER/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (TURNER)