2011 NBA Offseason: Philadelphia 76ers

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Philadelphia 76ers (Last Year: 41-41)

2011 NBA Draft Team Grade:

Philly entered the 2011 NBA Draft in need of size and added a pair of frontcourt players. This draft was thin for true big men but the 76ers grabbed Nikola Vucevic, one of the true 7-footers. I am not sure if he can out-produce Spencer Hawes but should provide some depth at center which will allow Elton Brand to spend more time at his natural power foward position. Lavoy Allen will have to earn his spot on the roster as an energy rebounder. (Team Grade: Meh)

Live 2011 NBA Draft Grades:

16. Nikola Vucevic, C, USC
This is who I had the 76ers taking in my mock so I am not at all surprised. Philly needs some size which Vucevic has, but how much better will he be than Spencer Hawes? Going with need over value with players like Jordan Hamilton and Chris Singleton available might come back to haunt them. (Pick Grade: Meh)

50. Lavoy Allen, PF, Temple
I am not sure an undersized power forward is what the Sixers needed here. At least Allen gets to stay in Philly. He’ll bring good energy to the floor and contribute as a solid rebounder. (Pick Grade: Don’t get it)

*** 2011 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***

2010-11 Season Summary:
A year after finishing with their worst record in more than a decade, the Philadelphia 76ers returned to respectability behind first-year head coach Doug Collins, only to bow out to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

Balance was both a strength and weakness for the Sixers this past season. No player averaged more than 15 points per game, but eight players scored at least seven per contest. It is nice to have that shared output on the offensive end, but it also left the team without a true go-to player when it needed a basket.

Elton Brand remained healthy for a second straight season, but is still a shell of the player he was pre-injury with the Clippers and one of the most overpaid players in the league with more than $35 million owed his way for the next two seasons. Andre Iguodala saw his scoring numbers dip but still contributed in all areas of the game finishing second on the team in points, rebounds and assists, and leading the team in steals.

The drafting of Evan Turner with the second-overall pick was questioned by some since it was uncertain as to how he would complement Iguodala on the wing. Those worries came to light in Turner’s rookie year as his offensive production was incredibly sporadic due to struggles shooting the rock. Philly still faces the issue of figuring out how to best use Iguodala and Turner since they both are not threats from beyond the arc.

The two biggest positives of the season came from second-year players Jrue Holiday and Jodie Meeks. Holiday solidified his status as the point guard of the future which is especially encouraging since he is only 21 years old. Meeks ended up starting 64 games and became Philly’s three-point threat. Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams were also bright spots, proving to be valuable assets off the bench.

Spencer Hawes was brought in to strengthen the inside play but actually regressed from his lackluster days in Sacramento. His disappointing season often times forced Collins to go with a smaller lineup that put Brand at center and Young at power forward, or even play the undersized Marresse Speights in the middle.

With no cap flexibility this offseason, the 76ers do not have a ton of room for improvement unless they are willing to deal Iguodala which will almost certainly be an on-going rumor all summer. It is something Philly will have to at least consider because the ceiling for their current roster is not high enough to become real players in the improving Eastern Conference, and there is no sign of cap relief until the summer of 2013.

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

C: *Spencer Hawes/Marreese Speights/Nikola Vucevic

PF: Elton Brand/Andres Nocioni/Lavoy Allen

SF: Andre Iguodala/^Thaddeus Young/Craig Brackins

SG: #Jodie Meeks/Evan Turner

PG: Jrue Holiday/Louis Williams

NBA Free Agents:

*C-Spencer Hawes (RFA)

^SF-Thaddeus Young (RFA)

#SG-Jodie Meeks (TO)

SG-Jason Kapono (UFA)

PF-Darius Songaila (UFA)

C-Tony Battie (UFA)

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $54 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Center: The Spencer Hawes/Marreese Speights duo just is not going to get the job done. Their lackluster play forced Doug Collins to play a small lineup for long stretches with Elton Brand playing out of position at center. Hawes has a $4 million qualifying offer due this offseason if Philly decides to retain his services, and Speights is really a power forward thrust into the center position due to a lack of depth. The Sixers need to add a true center who can provide an inside presence and allow Brand to spend more time at his natural position.

2. Shooter: Jodie Meeks has become the 76ers’ best three-point threat, but the other wing players – Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young – are poor outside shooters. Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday are also capable of knocking down shots from distance, but the Sixers could still use a sharpshooter to come off the bench. Minutes might be hard to come by for that player unless one of the aforementioned players gets traded, but Philly should still target a long-range gunner.

3. Growth From Evan Turner: Evan Turner improved as his rookie season went along, but he needs to show more. He will have become more accustomed to playing off the ball and being more aggressive in attacking the basket if he and the Sixers are going to take their game to the next level. If not, maybe the critics were right and Turner is just not a good fit in Philly.

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