Tuesday, October 27, 2009

09-10 Season Outlook: Philadelphia 76ers

The glass is half full. This is a saying that champions optimism and hope, and believe me, if you’re a Sixers fan for long enough you’ll certainly need both. Rather than focusing on the negatives from last season (Another mediocre record, horrendous three-point shooting, the absence of an all-star, and most importantly, another disappointing first round exit), I’m going to get my inner-optimist on and say that this season’s glass is certainly half full. Sure the team was bounced in the first round, but they put up a valid fight and proved to be a valid opponent to the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Magic. The success of that surprising series showed a different side to this Sixers squad; a side that they can hopefully build upon in the coming season.

The Sixers head into this season boasting largely the same squad as last season, barring a noticeable change at the point guard position; floor-general Andre Miller was shipped to Portland, a hole the Sixers filled by promoting prized long-time backup Lou Williams to the starting spot and drafting the potential-full, yet unproven Jrue Holiday out of UCLA. Williams will be looked to lead the team with up-tempo, fast-break basketball, a style that served them well last year.

Andre Igoudala had a huge 08-09, a year which saw him develop into the Sixers go-to-guy in late game situations, along with pushing his name into the upper echelon of the League. With his defense well respected, and his offensive arsenal continuously expanding there is no reason to believe we can’t seen an even bigger 09-10 from Andre. Last year, he solidified his name and reputation in the L, this year Sixers fans and League followers alike expect him to make that next step to All-Star status. Thaddeus Young is another player poised for a big season. In his second season Thad showed his versatility and expanded his scoring from 8 to over 15 points a game, providing another viable scoring option for a Sixers squad desperately in need of one. Poised for a breakout season, Thad figures to be a key component to the Sixers’ success this season.

The return of Elton Brand poses a question mark for the team, as they enjoyed their best success last season running an up-tempo style that ran most efficiently while Elton was sidelined with shoulder struggles. But, Elton is back and healthy, and now it is up to new coach Eddie Jordan to figure out a way to incorporate the former all-star into the game plan while sticking to the team’s strengths. If the new Sixers skipper can accomplish this expect a big season from both Elton and the Sixers.

Despite the addition of Jason Kapono to solidify the team’s terrible three point shooting, concerns about depth and frontcourt play will continue to haunt the team into the start of the season. Other questions loom large as well, including Elton’s health, Lou’s team-leadership ability, and the circus of uncertainty that usually surrounds a coach during his first year with a new squad. The Sixers appear to be equipped with adequate answers, but will need breakout seasons from some promising players if they hope to improve upon their finish from last year and make some noise in an ever-improving Eastern Confrence.


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