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  1. #1
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    John Hollinger: Sixers 2012-2013 Forecast

    Here's an in depth analysis on the Sixers past season, offseason moves, and outlook for the upcoming season. Based on his analysis, he projects us to finish 5th in the East, with a 46-36 record.

    Overview

    This would be a great story if they hadn't sabotaged it along the way. The Sixers, with a classic no-stars team in a non-marquee northern market, somehow got themselves a big-time star, some nice young pieces and a deep roster with a strong coach. All of the pieces should be in place for this team to make a big run toward the East's elite.

    Alas, they botched the rest of their offseason so badly that it won't happen. (More on that below.) Which is a shame, because Philly's story potentially offered a real counterweight for the league to offer the "other 25" teams -- the Sixers got a star center from Los Angeles instead of watching one of theirs go there, and had used a stretch of solid drafts (Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young weren't top 10 picks; Lou Williams and Lavoy Allen weren't even first-rounders) to build a strong nucleus in the post-Allen Iverson years.

    Unfortunately, the little-known story out of Philly was the takeover of the front office by the coach. With nominal general manager Rod Thorn having one foot out the door en route to retirement, Doug Collins effectively took over all of the decision-making. That led directly to some of the disastrous salary-cap management that preceded the trade for Andrew Bynum, which is the reason that Philly won't be contending for anything important this season. The announcement of Tony DiLeo's internal promotion to general manager only cemented that fact. This is now Collins' show from top to bottom.

    Philly was an interesting case study for other reasons. Offensively, it stumbled into an interesting concept that other teams might wish to emulate: If you don't have post players, don't run post-ups. The Sixers basically didn't run any the entire season (I'm sure they ran one or two, but it was as rare as an Eric Snow 3-pointer), and it was a big reason they set a record for fewest turnovers in a season. That will change dramatically this season.

    When Collins wasn't sabotaging himself with personnel moves, he had another strong go at it on the sidelines. He's engendered a fairly immediate turnaround of the Sixers into one of the league's elite defensive teams, a dramatic U-turn from the Eddie Jordan years, and while the offense was ridiculously conservative, it also kept them out of trouble. The biggest concern with Collins is burnout -- both for him and the players who have to listen to him every day -- and there already were mutterings that Andre Iguodala had heard enough. In that sense, perhaps having five new rotation players won't be such a bad thing.


    2011-12 Recap

    Philly blasted out of the gate 18-7, with a spectacular point differential. We thought that was too good to be true, and it was: Philly went 13-23 in its next 36 games to fall out of the division lead and ended up barely making the playoffs.

    Nonetheless, there were a lot of positives here. The Sixers had the scoring margin of a 45-win team; their 10-win differential between real and Expected Wins is the largest since I began tracking this stat. In comparison, the next closest team, the Knicks, were only 5.8 wins off their expected track.

    In fact, Philly finished the season fifth in point differential. Partly this was because it was extremely fortunate health-wise: Spencer Hawes missed 29 games but every other key player played at least 60 of the 66 contests, and the health of the backcourt in particular avoided exposing what was a tenuous depth situation.

    Offensively, as noted above, the Sixers were an extreme, low-risk outfit that mostly took long 2-pointers. This was partly because all of their big men were a lot more comfortable playing pick-and-pop than posting up or diving to the basket, but also because the perimeter players rarely had the green light to attack. Despite Philly's fearsome transition game, it was one of the league's slower-paced teams overall; in the half court, things slowed to a crawl.

    As a result, the Sixers set two records: One for the fewest turnovers, and another for the lowest free throw rate. The charts show just how far outside the norm they were in these two phases, in particular with turnovers: The difference between Philly and No. 2 San Antonio was larger than the margin between No. 2 and No. 25.

    The Sixers were also 27th in 3-point attempts per field goal attempt, and that, combined with the lack of free throws, meant they had the league's worst secondary percentage. They were also a bad offensive rebounding team -- not a surprise, given that the bigs were always 20 feet from the basket -- and as a result they were just an average offensive team overall, despite the historic lack of turnovers.

    Defensively, however, they did gangbusters. Philly cut off the 3-point line (only Chicago permitted fewer attempts) and held opponents to just 45.0 percent shooting on 2s. The Sixers also did strong work on the defensive glass, helped by the fact that two wing players (Iguodala and Evan Turner) posted epic defensive rebounding numbers for small forwards. Contrary to their reputation, the Sixers didn't force many turnovers; they were just a fundamentally solid team with a great wing stopper in Iguodala and no glaring weaknesses.

    All that, plus Derrick Rose's knee injury, left the Sixers one game from a spot in the conference finals, but their lack of scoring and outside shooting came back to bite them in a winnable series against Boston.


    Offseason Moves

    The trade for Bynum was a major coup, but the Sixers preceded that with a series of disastrous decisions that essentially undid all of the positives of the Bynum trade. They have an $80 million payroll, once you factor in the $16 million they're paying Elton Brand to play against them. Had there been an overarching plan rather than a series of one-off fire drills, they could have a better team, with a payroll between $60 million and $70 million.

    Drafted Moe Harkless; traded the No. 45 pick and a future first to Miami for the No. 27 pick; draft Arnett Moultrie: I thought both of these picks were reaches, although Moultrie has enough size and athleticism that he could overcome his deficient ball skills and become a halfway decent big man, similar to what Lavoy Allen did last season.

    But the Sixers traded a future first-round pick to Miami to move up 18 spots and grab Moultrie, and I'm still not sure why. It's a classic loan-shark trade, with an absolutely ginormous implied interest rate. The pick they obtained was No. 27 overall; the one they gave up is likely to be in the high teens a year later (it's top-14 protected each of the next three years), and in the meantime Miami still got to use Philly's second-rounder. Moultrie didn't solve any pressing roster need, either.

    Re-signed Lavoy Allen for two years, $6 million: Here's the quiet, unrecognized, year-old stink bomb that was the catalyst for the disastrous moves below: Coming out of the lockout, Philly gave Allen, a second-round pick, a one-year deal with no team option for a second year. There was no reason to do this. No other second-round pick has a deal this player-friendly, and as the 50th overall pick, Allen had zero leverage.

    So instead of having Allen at the second-year minimum for his sophomore season, he was a restricted free agent and the Sixers, being over the cap, had to dip into their midlevel exception to re-sign him. Like a butterfly flapping its wings to start a hurricane, Allen's deal led to the following ...

    Amnestied Elton Brand, let Lou Williams go, signed Nick Young for one year, $5.6 million: This move was so bad on so many levels it's hard to know where to start. The Sixers got a sudden yen for Nick Young -- no, I don't know why either -- and decided they had to have him. But with half of their midlevel gone to Allen (see above), the only way to get Young was to create cap space.

    And the only way to create cap space was to unload two of their most productive players from the previous season. Williams led the team in scoring and PER and is just 26, and ended up signing for reasonable money in Atlanta. Brand, though fading, was still quite useful, especially at the defensive end. Certainly, both players are better than Young by a substantial margin.

    This actually cost the Sixers a bit of money rather than saving it, as they still owe Brand $16 million for this season after his amnesty auction only shaved $2.1 million of the price, and they still had to pay for a replacement. All so they could pay Young more money than Atlanta paid Williams.

    Wait, it gets worse ...

    Signed Kwame Brown for two years, $5.8 million: For reasons that aren't entirely clear, Philly has been obsessed with getting more size the past two years. The Sixers were the No. 3 defense and fifth in defensive rebound rate, but decided they needed to overpay for Kwame, a non-solution to a non-existent problem. He's not one of their 10 best players, but there's a worry he'll play anyway.

    Let Jodie Meeks go, signed Royal Ivey for one year, minimum: Nobody has really commented on this, but the Sixers don't have a backup point guard this season and don't seem terribly troubled by the lack of one. The closest thing is Ivey, who is neither a backup nor a point guard; he is at best a fifth guard, and that's only on a really sunny day if the lighting is just right.

    Traded nothing for Dorell Wright: Finally, some good news. Using their remaining cap space after the Brand amnesty, Philly took in Wright from Golden State. Hard to argue with the price, obviously. Technically it wasn't "nothing," as Philly gave up the rights to Edin Bavcic, a 2006 draftee who will never play in the league, but effectively Wright was free. He's a better player than people think, too. I'm not sure why he fell out of the Warriors' plans, but he can shoot 3s and is a decent defender.

    Re-signed Spencer Hawes for two years, $13 million: This wasn't a bad price to pay for a starting center, especially because the Sixers didn't know at the time that they'd be getting Bynum. Although there's a fair amount of skepticism that Hawes can re-enact his outstanding play in the first month of last season, he's young enough to get better and he's a decent player even if you throw that month out.

    Traded Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless and a future first-round pick for Jason Richardson and Andrew Bynum: This was the big move that should have put Philly in position to contend in the East, were it not for all of the other assorted silliness above. The Sixers parlayed a pretty good wing player into a dominant big man, and Richardson isn't dead weight, either.

    Besides Iguodala, all they had to give up was Vucevic -- a quality backup center who had fallen out of the rotation by season's end -- and two late first-round draft picks (if you count Harkless as one of them). There's a risk here because Bynum is an unrestricted free agent after the season, but he's from the Philly area and has hinted that he'd like to stick around.


    2012-13 Outlook

    Philadelphia is going to have to change its stripes significantly with Bynum in the fold, as last season's conservative pass-pick-and-cut approach is replaced by force-feeding Bynum on the block and surrounding him with shooters. The Sixers have more shooting at least, as Young, Richardson and Wright can all bust the 3-pointer, and Holiday may get more spot-up chances out of double-teams on Bynum.
    As a result, this will be a higher turnover outfit -- post-ups invariably lead to more turnovers, especially ones involving Bynum and double-teams -- but also one that will draw fouls and make 3-pointers. Basically, it will look a lot more like a normal NBA offense.

    Defensively, however, the Sixers also will change, and probably for the worse. Iguodala was an elite wing defender and Philly has nobody to fill that void. Nick Young and Richardson are bad defenders, and Turner and Wright are merely adequate. Bynum will swat away some mistakes in the middle, but on balance I'd be surprised if this is a top-three defense again.

    Digging deeper, more questions emerge. The Sixers have high hopes for Turner, but I don't, and I think they should trade him before others catch on to what a hugely negative offensive player he is. They seem remarkably cavalier about the lack of a backup point guard, and if they really go into the season with Ivey (or some other replacement-level backup), that's a massive drop-off from what Williams gave them last season. Finally, I didn't include minutes for Brown in this projection because I only have him rated as their fifth-best big man, but if he plays ahead of Allen that will take them down a peg, too.

    Subjectively, one must also consider Collins' history of self-combusting in his third season in a city; the new blood may prove helpful here.

    Overall, however, the offseason moves amounted to running in place. The Sixers will be a different team, but I'm not sure it will be a better one. If they still had Brand and Williams rather than Young, Wright and Brown, then I'd be singing a different tune. But this group looks like a mid-tier, one-and-done outfit.

    Prediction: 46-36, 3rd in Atlantic Division, 5th in Eastern Conference
    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/previ...-76ers-outlook

  2. #2
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    why do national guys love Lou Williams so much?

    saying the loss of Brand and Williams are huge is ridiculous.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by smellsam44 View Post
    why do national guys love Lou Williams so much?

    saying the loss of Brand and Williams are huge is ridiculous.
    Losing your best scoring and best interior defensive player is always going to be huge. The moves we have made have compensated for our losses but they were big losses nonetheless.

  4. #4
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    that wasnt nearly as much fun to read as i was hoping for it to be lol

    Pete Rose, here he comes!

  5. #5
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    I agree we slept on Lavoy's rookie deal. I agree we would be better with Brand and Lou over Brown, Wright and Young. That's because Brand is so much better at PF than anyone we have right now. But I wouldn't want the contract for Lou.

    We should start
    Bynum - obviously
    Allen - best PF available
    Wright - tall, good defender, better than Richardson
    Turner - we have to KNOW
    Holiday - obviously

    Depth Chart
    Bynum, Hawes, Brown, Gadzuric
    Allen, Thad, Moultrie
    Wright, Richardson
    Turner, Young, Wilkins
    Holiday, Wayns, Ivey
    Pay attention. You might learn something.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeter4president View Post
    that wasnt nearly as much fun to read as i was hoping for it to be lol
    Hahaha

    Yeah, Hollinger is definitely not a huge fan of our offseason. Hopefully we can prove him wrong. He's usually pretty kind to the Sixers. EDIT: And by that, I mean that the statistics/projections he uses usually rank the Sixers more favorably than the traditionalist "experts" do.
    Last edited by sixer04fan; 10-12-2012 at 03:53 PM.

  7. #7
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    I couldn't help but notice that he was the second person to mention these things:

    1. "Lou is better than Young by a substantial margin"
    2. "Turner stinks"
    3. "Don't get too excited about Kwame"


    Guess time will tell. You guys might still be right; I sort of doubt it. And will stick with my predictions (coincidentally similar to the above) initially stated months ago.

  8. #8
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    Unfortunately, the little-known story out of Philly was the takeover of the front office by the coach. With nominal general manager Rod Thorn having one foot out the door en route to retirement, Doug Collins effectively took over all of the decision-making. That led directly to some of the disastrous salary-cap management that preceded the trade for Andrew Bynum, which is the reason that Philly won't be contending for anything important this season. The announcement of Tony DiLeo's internal promotion to general manager only cemented that fact. This is now Collins' show from top to bottom.
    What many of us have been saying or thinking in a nut shell in regards to the Collins/FO power struggle.

    But for the most part, I don't mind the moves that were made prior to the Bynum deal. Did amnestying Brand to sign Nick Young make any sense? Not really, but he's not considering that it's a only a one year deal. All the additions we made were basically for 1 or 2 year deals, which keeps us as flexible as possible, while still getting some pretty decent basketball players along the way and addressing the holes that the team had last year. I still think we're going to be really good this year. I truly believe it.

  9. #9
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    First, let me say this. Hollinger is not one of my favorite basketball analysis as he values his invention, per, too much. Now onto breaking down his analysis.

    Nick Young vs Lou Williams - Yes, Lou is a more capable on ball player and has a talent for getting to the FT line.

    That said, Nick Young is a MUCH BETTER pure shooter (aka fits a need) and if he plays under control/in a system that fits him, don't be surprised if he really has a stand out year. He will frustrate you offensively like Lou at times, but he isn't a major downgrade

    Secondly, Nick Young isn't a bad defensive player. There have been differing opinions on his defense (from very good to servicable), but we can at least agree he is better than Lou. Look at theses numbers and video clips:

    http://www.hickory-high.com/?p=3321

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...v=_SJKVZe0Dwk#!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...v=z67bBf7JdjI#!

    Young possess more potential on defense than Lou and while I can't say for certain how good he is, he seems to be a very capable defender. Add that to the fact that he (and Wright) are on one year deals and I will can live with them.

    Unfortunately, he is right about Lavoy's contract situation, Kwame, and Spencer. Worse parts of the off-season for me. Also the loss of Brand is a bigger blow than people think. I also lack enthusiasm for DC running the FO, but we shall see what happens with the Dileo/Collins partnership.

    He is down on ET (and rightly so), but I want to give him until the all star break to prove whether is a bust or not. I have been very disappointed with ET so far in his career and I wouldn't blame anyone else who is.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Hinkie
    "I'm probably pretty boring to watch a game with because I''m all about expected values. I don''t even care if it goes in or not, I'm all about, '‘Should it go in?'' I can live with randomness. I mean, if it''s a close game in the end, yeah, I''m just like anyone else. But I just want us to play the odds all the time."
    TerminH1NK13


  10. #10
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    I don't disagree with much at all that he said, interesting piece. Not sure what the confusion was about the first paragraph that someone mentioned in another thread.

  11. #11
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    Its easy to have the assumption the sixers wont be a top tier team is what I got from the article. I bet the same thing was said about the Thunder 4 years ago. Getting rid of all those players had to be done and if not now eventually it would have happened. I would have loved to keep Iggy get Bynum, Kevin love and have J Harden come off the bench but then my fav team would have been LAL or something. Time is running out for big 3 type teams unless they have and are willing to spend a lot of money. The way I see it Jrich Kwame and Nyoung are band aids in time we'll see what pans out and what changes if any are made.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickyPrior View Post
    I couldn't help but notice that he was the second person to mention these things:

    1. "Lou is better than Young by a substantial margin"
    2. "Turner stinks"
    3. "Don't get too excited about Kwame"


    Guess time will tell. You guys might still be right; I sort of doubt it. And will stick with my predictions (coincidentally similar to the above) initially stated months ago.
    His PER loves lou cause of the lack of turnovers, but it doesnt seem to account for all the missed shots early in the shot clock. Apparenty those arent turnovers

  13. #13
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    I agree with the placing barring injuries. Around 4th or 5th sounds right to me as well. But our personnel (once again barring injuries) makes for a sneaky good team come playoff time when the game slows down. I'm thinking we'll be a much better half court team this season then in years past

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixerlover View Post
    I'm thinking we'll be a much better half court team this season then in years past
    Absolutely

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by BChydro86 View Post
    His PER loves lou cause of the lack of turnovers, but it doesnt seem to account for all the missed shots early in the shot clock. Apparenty those arent turnovers
    Honestly, I'm not a fan of the per stat in general.

    He doesn't just use per, but his use of per for certain players annoys me. Lou Will is a prime example. Lou is a good player, but he values him more than I do. Overall, his assessment is fair though.
    Last edited by Knowledge; 10-12-2012 at 11:48 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Hinkie
    "I'm probably pretty boring to watch a game with because I''m all about expected values. I don''t even care if it goes in or not, I'm all about, '‘Should it go in?'' I can live with randomness. I mean, if it''s a close game in the end, yeah, I''m just like anyone else. But I just want us to play the odds all the time."
    TerminH1NK13


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