Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Once again back is the incredible ... Ball Don't Lie's NBA previews, outlining offseason moves, projecting win totals, spinning tracks and much, much more. It's a fun, hot mess. Today, the Philadelphia 76ers.

2008-09 Record: 41-41, second place in Atlantic Division
Head Coach/Facial Hair: Eddie Jordan/None (just recently went 'stache-less)
Key Additions: Jason Kapono(notes), Jrue Holiday(notes), Rodney Carney(notes)
Key Losses: Andre Miller(notes), Donyell Marshall(notes), Reggie Evans(notes), Theo Ratliff(notes)

Part of me thinks that Eddie Jordan's modified Princeton offense does wonders with this team — a team that didn't bother to try to sign or then replace Andre Miller after he left for Portland as a free agent — working in an offense that doesn't always need a proper point guard.

I like the idea of all these forwards causing trouble. Nobody can shoot, but what's the point if they've already slipped the pick and are heading in for the high-percentage shot?

The defense, which was about average last season, should remain the same. Possibly improve, as the youngsters get older.

Elton Brand(notes)? He'll probably be useless toward the end of his contract, but why can't he work out in 2009-10?

I've been looking up and down this roster for months, and all I see is a 25-win team or a 45-win team. Adjust for the other 29 teams, and I'm sticking with 43 wins. And I'm having a hard time telling you why.

Philadelphia is deep. You might scoff at some of these names — Primoz Brezec(notes), Rodney Carney, Marreese Speights(notes), Willie Green(notes) — but they can play. As long as Green remains a 10th man, I should report, and not a near-starter. Sam Dalembert can't be as bad as he was last season, and if he continues to struggle, than the Sixers can run all sorts of tri-forward craziness.

Louis Williams(notes) at point guard? Well, he's not a point guard. Andre Iguodala(notes) will have to initiate most of the offense, Williams will just have to try and not screw things up. Truth be told, Louis' stats as a point man were fantastic last season on both sides of the ball, but it's OK to wonder just how well he'll pull it off as a sustained starter.

The athletic tag team of Speights and Thaddeus Young(notes) can't help but improve, even if Young took a step back last season. Jordan knows how to find looks for tweener types like these two, and it'll be a bit of a burden trying to decide who to guard after one of them sets a good screen for AI, rolling toward the hoop.

Brand is a toughie. He's played 37 games over the last two seasons, not particularly well, certainly up to the standard that his pay suggests, and he hasn't even shot the ball effectively. But the ideal he was signed for — a last-resort type to go down low after all the initial transition options have faded away — still sounds like a winner.

And the 25- or 45-win idea? That's how they'll look all season. Awful and great.

This team wants to cause turnovers and run. Jason Kapono will help with the 3-point shooting, but he's long been the league's most laughably reluctant 3-point shooter, and Jrue Holliday just isn't ready to contribute much at this point. So the offensive options will look a lot like last season's. It's just up to Jordan to find some way to make it all work.

For whatever reason, let's say they catch quite a few teams on their laziest day, we see it working.

Prediction: 43-39

Kelly Dwyer

What will this team look like if it stay healthy?

So much rides on the return of Elton Brand that it's difficult to project just how good this team can be. And losing Andre Miller could make it hard for them to reprise their role as Atlantic Division runner-ups and playoff participants for a third straight year. The fact the Sixers had a 10-man roster in mid-July indicated there was still much work to be done.

— Peter May, Yahoo! Sports 2009-10 NBA Preview magazine

Liberty Ballers: "You're hard-pressed to find another NBA team with as much athleticism as the 76ers. I watched a JV basketball game last season. Team A was fundamentally sound, well-coached and basketball-smart. Team B looked like they barely knew what hoop to shoot on, and bricked 90% of their jumpers in warm-ups. Team A lost; they were literally run out of the gym, blown out, destroyed, and any other adjective you would use to describe a painful beating. Why did this happen? Because Team B was the most athletic JV team on the planet. They didn't need basketball skill, because they didn't take a jump shot the entire game. They ran, they jumped, they dunked. Why am I telling you this story? Because the Sixers have done the same to a handful of NBA teams over the past two seasons. That should give you an idea of how athletic they are." [more]

Straight Outta Vancouver: "I don't know why I see this team losing its spiritual core and still succeeding, but somehow I believe that it's going to work. Thaddeus Young reminds me too much of Rudy Gay(notes) and Danny Granger(notes) last season to think that he won't break out — Sixers fans need to hope that he's more Granger then Gay, but whatever, room for big growth is there. And while I don't trust Eddie Jordan that his system doesn't need a point guard, I do trust that Louis Williams will provide enough of a point man, especially since Iguodala often takes over as the lead playmaker. Look for this team to exceed expectations, but don't bet on them to make too much noise — the East is a looking deeper than ever this season." [more]

HOOPSWORLD: "Brand hasn't been his usual self for two seasons now and the point guard position is a real question mark for the 76ers. Jrue Holiday has all the potential in the world, but he's still very young and may not be ready to provide everything that is going to be asked of him. The bottom half of the Atlantic division was very tight last season and with so many question marks it's easy to see the 76ers faltering to the cellar." [more]

Arcade Fire, "Keep The Car Running"

Eddie Jordan, trust us on this one. You want this team to run. You've sure got the roster for it. Sure, losing Andre Miller might hurt, but you drafted that fast guy with the silly name who seems pretty, well, fast. Plus, you've got guys like Willie Green and Andre Iguodala who love to play up-tempo. And you employ Samuel Dalembert(notes) and Stromile Swift(notes). They should be reason enough to not slow it down.

Don't worry about Elton Brand. He'll fit in fine since he doesn't use his shoulder to run anyways. He had his best season the year he played on his fastest team. But you probably already new that, Eddie Jordan. After all, your most successful team was your fastest, too. Keep 'em running, Ed.

— Trey Kerby, The Blowtorch

There is no shortage of plotlines with sizable fantasy implications in Philly. Eddie Jordan brings with him a motion offense that proved very friendly to Gilbert Arenas(notes), Caron Butler(notes) and Antawn Jamison(notes) in Washington. While the 76ers lack prolific 3-point shooters often utilized in this type of system, they do have superlative athleticism on the wings in Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, a legit two-way post presence in Elton Brand, and a dribble-drive oriented point guard in Louis Williams.

Iguodala's versatility is a key for the team and he should prove worthy of a third-round pick. Brand is healthy, fit and desperate to put last season's debacle behind him. It's a great mix of skills and opportunity, even if he doesn't reach his former first-round status in a motion system. Young and Williams are young players primed for breakouts. Both can attack the rim and have been underrated in early drafts — if the threes are falling, they'll easily rank among the biggest returns on investment by the time it's all said and done.

— Matt Buser, Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Basketball / BuserSports.com

Sign up now for Fantasy Basketball '09.

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