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Oct 27 2013

Six bold Sixers predictions

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Grantland’s Zach Lowe offered 32 bold predictions in a Tuesday column, and touched by his 10+ win prognosis for the Sixers, I came up with six predictions of my own.

1. James Anderson will lead the team in scoring

Anderson is a competent 3-point shooter on a team that’ll be firing plenty from beyond the arc. The 2010 first-round pick shot 17-for-35 from from downtown in seven preseason games; the rest of the team shot a combined 35-for-129 (h/t @tmoore76ers).

Perhaps it’s a stretch to say that Anderson – a Spurs cast-off – will lead the Sixers in points per game. But with Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young potentially gone by the deadline, total points is a real possibility. 

2. Michael Carter-Williams will win the Kia NBA Rookie of the Year

Is any rookie expected to shoulder as heavy a load as Carter-Williams? The Sixers starting point guard should log 30+ minutes a night with a high usage rate. Efficient or not, he’ll be filling up box scores. If he doesn’t win ROY, he still has a good shot of making All-Rookie first or second team.

For what it’s worth, Crystal Sands Las Vegas puts Carter-Williams at 9/1 for ROY, behind Trey Burke (4/1), Victor Oladipo (11/2), C.J. McCollum (15/2), and Otto Porter (15/2). Nerlens Noel is at 33/1.

3. The Sixers will sign Jason Collins

With Noel and Arnett Moultrie hurt, Royce White cut, Lavoy Allen sleeping, and Spencer Hawes being Spencer Hawes, the team will be thin in the front court.

Jason Collins would be a good fit for several reasons. For one, he’s a serviceable veteran who could guide the younger players without interfering with the tank mission. PR-wise, the organization could benefit from signing the first openly gay athlete in a major pro sport.

4. The Sixers will win more games than the Suns

Kevin Pelton’s “SCHOENE” projection has the Sixers finishing 25-57 – more wins than most are predicting.

Granted, SCHOENE assumes Noel returns around Christmas and that Young/Turner/Hawes are on the roster at season’s end. But the main takeaway from the projection is this: The Sixers may win more games than you think. 

What is keeping the Sixers out of the cellar? It’s their defense, says Tom Haberstroh on ESPN Insider. SCHOENE projects Philly’s defense to rank 19th while predicting other tanking teams – Celtics, Suns, Kings, Jazz – to be atrocious on both sides of the ball.

In Pelton’s final SCHOENE projection, adjusting according to the Gortat trade, he projects that the Suns will win approximately 17 games and the Sixers will win approximately 22.

5. Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner are all gone by the deadline 

In Young, Hawes, and Turner, the Sixers have three players who could contribute on a contender. 

A team like OKC could land Young with an expiring contract (Kendrick Perkins), plus a draft pick and/or a prospect like Jeremy Lamb. (Thad on the Thunder would be a win for everybody).

Turner is on the final year of his rookie contract1, and while he’s a disappointment as a No. 2 overall pick, he still has plenty to offer; he’s a relentless rebounder who can play multiple positions.

And then there’s Hawes. He’d look pretty good coming off the bench for several teams in the West – in moderation, of course. Potential fits that come to mind: Denver, Golden State(‘Dre-Speezy-Spence Reunion), Portland, LAC and Houston.

If all three were traded, the Sixers would shave $22,129,867 off of their already low payroll.

6. The Sixers will acquire another 2014 first-round pick

Or two.

Per ProSportsTransactions, the Sixers have three 2014 second-round picks: their own, the Celtics’ pick from Dallas  via the Ricky Ledo trade, and Milwaukee’s pick.

Between those three picks, their cap room, and potential returns for Young/Hawes/Turner, the Sixers have the assets to either move up in next year’s draft, or gather additional picks. 

1. Hawes and Turner have contracts at around $7 million; rebuilding teams could take on those salaries, but wouldn’t. The teams potentially interested in them – competitors – are capped out, so they’d need to send a sizable expiring back to make a deal work.