The 2012-2013 Philadelphia 76ers are a team of great expectations. The playoffs aren’t the end result anymore, they are the bare minimum. This team is expected to be a top four or five seed in the playoffs this season, with the potential to go very far in the playoffs. There is quickness, there are plenty of shooters and size and they have their superstar in Andrew Bynum.
Injuries, bad chemistry and just flat out poor play could result in this team not reaching their goals. This Sixers team could finish the season anywhere between 35 and 50 wins this season. There is enough talent to believe this is the second best team in the Eastern conference, but at the same time there are enough concerns to see this team falling a few games short of a .500 record.
Here are the five most important Sixers to a successful 2012-2013 campaign.
5) Evan Turner
I bet you thought he would be much higher. You have to understand what type of player Evan Turner is or he can frustrate you to no end. He was a former number two overall pick in the draft, but that doesn’t help him score 20 points per game. Turner isn’t a go-to player on offense. He is a good perimeter defender who can do a lot of different things. He can’t score 20 points per game very often, but he can put up numbers closer to 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.
Turner’s defense is going to be key this season. He is going to be asked to defender shooting guards and small forwards all season long. He will be guarding the likes of Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce this season. His athleticism and length will be frustrating for some of the smaller wing players in the NBA. The big question for Turner is whether he starts as a shooting guard with Dorell Wright or as a small forward with Jason Richardson this season. Basically, is he guarding small forwards or shooting guards. He may not have enough strength to keep the likes of Carmelo Anthony contained for four quarters.
4) Dorell Wright
Two seasons ago Dorell Wright averaged over 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Then his former team, Golden State, had a log jam at the small forward position and Wright lost minutes. His numbers dipped to 10 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. He will have a great opportunity to get his minutes back in Philly this season.
Wright has the length coach Doug Collins wants out of his wings players. He is 6’9 and somewhere around 210 pounds. Wright also possesses something that should be very valuable to the Sixers this season and that is three points shooting. What good is it to have a dominant big man if no one around him can hit the outside shot? Wright is a proven shooter who has made 299 threes in the last two seasons and has shot at least 35% from downtown in each of the last three seasons.
His three points accuracy and his defense on the wings will be huge this season. If he puts up similar numbers to his 2010-2011 season with Golden State, then the Sixers offense is going to be really dynamic.
3) Thaddeus Young
Thaddeus Young was asked to put on some weight this offseason so he can better handle the power forward position on a full-time basis. Young went up from 220 pounds last season 235 pounds coming into this season. He didn’t appear to lose any significant amount of his quickness or athleticism during preseason. He did improve his post presence a little bit. In 28.5 minutes per game in preseason, Young averaged 14.8 and 6.7 rebounds per game.
Young is going to be a key player on both ends of the floor this season. His quickness allows his to cover the more athletic and sharp shooting power forwards all over the floor, while it also will get him a lot of easy baskets playing next to Andrew Bynum. Young could be in for a career year in Philly this season, but he isn’t alone. His career highs in points and rebounds are 15.3 points(2008-2009) and 5.3 rebounds (2010-2011).
2) Andrew Bynum
Despite popular belief, the Sixers can win games without Andrew Bynum. They could even win the Atlantic division without him. They just can’t go very far in the playoffs without him. Playing without Bynum right now is going to be very beneficial for this Sixers team. They will learn to play without a dominant post player on both ends of the floor for a little bit before he comes back. When he does, that is when they can take their game to the next level.
Ideally, they wait for Bynum to get to 100% before he comes back. If he misses the first 40 games, that isn’t season killing. If he misses the last 20, including the playoffs, then it becomes more damaging. They need him for the stretch run after the All-Star break and the playoffs.
Bynum’s shot blocking and post scoring ability will give teams like Boston and Miami (and 90% of the league) who don’t have a legitimate center. He gives Sixers fans hope for great things this season. Even if he doesn’t crack the lineup until after Thanksgiving.
1) Jrue Holiday
If you think Andrew Bynum is the only player on this roster with All-Star potential you are dead wrong. Jrue Holiday is a budding star with excellent size, shooting and floor general ability. In six preseason games he averaged 26.3 minutes, 13.3 points, 6.5 assists per game and shot 43.3% from the field including 44.4% from the three.
Holiday isn’t the best player on his team, but he certainly is the most important. Unlike Bynum, you don’t worry about Holiday’s health. In his previous three seasons he has missed a grand total of just 10 games and just one game over the last two seasons. You also have to understand that for every great center, there was a great guard feeding him the ball. You need good guard play to open things up in the post. Can you think of many great basketball teams in the last 20 years that didn’t have at least good guard play? I didn’t think so.
Holiday is the leader and the floor general of this team now. It’s his responsibility to keep this offense from going through long cold spells. When this offense fails, he fails. He will be a huge part of this team’s success in 2012-2013.