Five questions facing the Sixers this offseason

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This past season for the Philadelphia 76ers was a failure of epic proportions. Let’s put that disastrous season in the past and look to a (hopefully) bright future. The 76ers finally look like they might be able to take somewhat of a leap, and if they are going to make the jump, they need to nail this upcoming draft and free agency period. Over the next couple of days, we will dive in and preview this vital offseason for the 76ers. First up, we have some questions heading into the offseason.

How will newly minted GM Bryan Colangelo differ from Sam Hinkie?
Sam Hinkie was a young, analytics expert when the Sixers ownership stole him away from the Rockets and donned him the new general manager. He lacked basketball experience but he brought fresh ideas and was undoubtedly intelligent. He has made some questionable moves as the GM such as trading away KJ McDaniels and failing to resign Ish Smith. For the most part though, he was remarkably good at acquiring assets. The Jrue Holiday-Nerlens Noel trade during the 2013 draft was an overwhelming win for the Sixers and so was the Michael Carter-Williams trade that Hinkie made just last year. That being said, this year was exceptionally bad for the GM. He failed to build an environment that could help the young players adapt to the NBA lifestyle, and he could not work well with others, most notably NBA lifer, Jerry Colangelo. Internal pressure and a lack of confidence in his work led to his 13 page resignation letter.

On the binary opposite side of the spectrum lies Bryan Colangelo. Bryan, like his father, is a proven NBA decision maker. He is as much of a “basketball guy” as anyone in the league.. winning NBA Executive of the Year not once, but twice.

With the Suns, he built a team that contended regularly with two of the best teams in NBA history in the early 2000s in the Lakers and Spurs. He drafted Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, and Shawn Marion and traded for a young Joe Johnson. And later with the Raptors, he snagged All Star wingman DeMar DeRozan and up and coming center Jonas Valanciunas in the draft, while also trading for one of the better point guards we have today in Kyle Lowry.

Unfortunately though, he was not perfect. He traded away guys like Steve Nash and Joe Johnson right before their primes and he also selected a huge bust in Andrea Bargnani with the first pick in the 2006 NBA draft, passing on the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy.

Ultimately, time will tell whether Colangelo can pick up the pieces left by Hinkie. They are different in every way as general managers and maybe, in a time when the Sixers are looking to move up in the standings, Colangelo is exactly the guy to make that happen. He did it with the Suns and again with the Raptors..will he strike third time lucky with the Sixers? He has the draft picks and the cap space to do it here in Philadelphia..it’s just a case of doing what he does best.

 

Will Joel Embiid and Dario Saric be on the floor for the Sixers next season?
According to CBS Sports, the 76ers are not entirely sure whether Joel Embiid will play in the NBA summer league later in this offseason; however, in a local radio interview on 94 WIP, Brown said that he believes that the big man should be ready for game one of the 2016-17 season. He is the Sixers’ rebuild at this point. I have repeatedly said that Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel are nice pieces to a rebuild but they are not the generational talent that is required to truly get over the top in today’s NBA. Embiid, as of right now, is the Sixers’ best chance at getting that kind of special production. If he fails to stay healthy this season, regardless of who the Sixers are able to sign in free agency or acquire in the draft, their rebuild will take a major hit.

On the other hand, Dario Saric is reportedly ready to make the trip over from Turkey to the NBA and join the Sixers. Ironically when I watch Saric, I see a lot of the potential number one overall pick in the upcoming draft, Ben Simmons. He is not as dynamic and as physically unique as the former LSU Tiger but he offers a similar skillset. Saric is the new age point forward that NBA teams are beginning to covet. At 6’10”, Saric can rebound and play down low but at the same time is able to easily handle the ball and find open teammates.

If the Sixers are lucky enough to get both of these players to contribute on a nightly basis, they could be a force to be reckoned with already. This process starts in the offseason though. The Sixers front office must successfully convince Saric come over, and at the same time, must get Embiid on the right track to play in that first game next year.

 

How will the Sixers deal with the three big men?
Once we get Embiid out there and healthy, decisions must be made regarding their stacked frontcourt. Embiid, at least at this point in time, is pretty much untouchable. He offers the highest ceiling, and it would be foolish to get rid of him before he is able to show his stuff. That leaves a pick ‘em between Noel and Okafor.

Personally, I was turned off by Okafor’s lackluster defense in his rookie year. He is a unique offensive threat but on the other end of the court, his play needs to improve.

Then there’s Noel who is sort of the exact opposite. Noel figures to be an elite defender in this league for many years, while his offense will probably never be better than average.

This is a tough choice and one that unfortunately will probably have to be made some time in the future, possibly this summer.

 

Can the Sixers attract any free agents?
The Sixers reached rock bottom this past year and things are looking up but I am not sure that they will be able to attract too many players in free agency. The Colangelo duo finally brings some much needed legitimacy to the franchise but to put it bluntly, this team still stinks. They have considerable talent already on the roster, but it is congested. They also have an impressive number of assets including two possible top 5 picks in this upcoming draft, but free agents are not going to be swayed by “assets”.

Look for the Sixers to try and sign some mid-level players but Demar Derozan and Kevin Durant are not going to be in Sixers uniforms next year.


Will the odds be in the Sixers favor?
Using LotteryBucket.com, below are the odds that the Sixers get the top picks in the draft.

Draft Order Sixers Probability (combined with SAC trade)
1 26.9%
2 22.6%
3 18.2%
4 32.3%

Thanks to the Stauskas trade that Sam Hinkie made in the offseason last year, the Sixers have the rights to swap firsts with Sacramento this year and next year. This gives the Sixers a slight boost in their chances to land the top pick.

The Michael Carter-Williams trade netted them the Lakers first rounder this year (Top 3 Protected), so Lakers need to drop out of those first three slots for the Sixers to successfully acquire the pick. There is a 44.2% chance that it occurs.

It is impossible to say whether or not they will be able to get the precious top overall pick and then also get the 4th pick from the Lakers. If they were able to do that however, they could perhaps jump the Timberwolves as the best young team in basketball. Let’s hope that when the Lottery does come along this upcoming Tuesday, May 17th, the odds will be in the Sixers’ favor.

 

Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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