And more bold/loopy/indefensible predictions about the 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers.
1. When will the Sixers win their first game?
Anthony Calabro: Color me optimistic, but I think the Sixers steal a win on the road against the Washington Wizards on November 1. The young Wiz are expected to make the playoffs this year, but they’ll fall victim to overlooking their opponent.
Eric Goldwein: Every ten games or so, the Sixers will go on an unsustainable three-point run and steal a game. My money is on that first happening during the early back-to-back against the Cavaliers on Nov. 8-9. If and when the Sixers catch fire from downtown, it’ll happen against a defense like Cleveland’s
Wesley Share: On November 6th at home against Washington.
Tom Sunnergren: Nov. 20 against Toronto. With an early season schedule would be difficult for a team that was trying to win basketball game—the most winnable game before the one I tabbed is Nov. 8 against a Cavs team that should be improved—I have the 76ers going 0 for their first 12 and failing to notch the initial win of ‘13-14 until the Raptors come to town.
Bryan Toporek: On Dec. 3, against the Orlando Magic in Philadelphia. The Sixers’ first 15 games come against teams that could reasonably contend for the playoffs, so rule those out. They could win their road game against Orlando on Nov. 27, but I’m picking the Magic and Sixers to each defend their home turf against one another in those two early-season matchups.
2. This season, Michael Carter-Williams will be ____.
Calabro: Erratic. There really is no pressure on MCW, so he can just go out there and ball. He’ll show his potential one night, and leave us shaking our heads in disgust the next. The life of a rookie point guard.
Goldwein: A 5×5 fantasy basketball beast. Points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks — he’ll do it all. Efficiently? Hell no.
Share: The Kia NBA Rookie of the Year. As I mentioned in my predictions post, no rookie in the league will be shouldering a load as large as Carter-Williams’. He’s set to play more minutes than most rookies and also log a high usage rate.
Sunnergren: Bad. “Raw, turnover prone, and a without a jump shot is no way for a point guard to go through a season, son.”
Toporek: The league leader in turnovers. MCW wasn’t exactly a turnover machine in the preseason (just 1.8 giveaways per game), but that number should quickly escalate once the regular season kicks off. He averaged 3.4 turnovers in 35 minutes per game as a sophomore at Syracuse, so I’m expecting a minimum of 3-4 giveaways from him each night this season.
3. Who of the Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young trio will be Philadelphia 76ers by season’s end?
Calabro: Spencer Hawes. I can see a contender going after Thaddeus. I can see a team with nothing to play for take a flier on E.T. But what GM is telling his staff, “Look, what we need is Spencer Hawes-type of guy.”
Goldwein: None. The Sixers will be in the running for worst record if operation tank goes as planned. Exchange those three for draft picks – first and/or second rounders – would be the best way to drop late-season games without overtly tanking.
Share: I don’t think any of them will be, but the most likely to stick around is Turner. Although he may put up bigger numbers than he ever has before this season, his looming $8.7 million qualifying offer is a huge turnoff.
Sunnergren: None of them. Turner should perform reasonably well in this system, which means he’ll have value, which means he’s gone. Thad Young is good and old enough (25) that his skills might be waning by the time the team’s ready to win again, so he’s gone. Spencer Hawes is Spencer Hawes, so he’s gone too.
Toporek: Turner and Hawes. With Jrue Holiday now in New Orleans, Young easily has the most trade value of any remaining Sixer. If Sam Hinkie can wrangle a 2014 first-round pick for him, Thad’s gone. Neither Turner nor Hawes likely fit into the team’s long-term plans, but I don’t see the team getting fair value for either player in a trade.
4. How many games will the Sixers win in 2013-14?
Calabro: 20. There are a lot of bad teams out there. Sixers can win 20 by accident.
Goldwein: 18. This team doesn’t have enough inefficient offense/poor-D combo players to sink below double-digit wins. With Turner/Hawes/Young still on the roster, they’ll be able to beat some poor teams and pull off the occasional upset against squads on the second night of back-to-backs. But they could stoop to Bobcat-levels if and when the Little 3 get traded.
Sunnergren: 19. There’s some talent on the roster, but the franchise is committed to fielding a bad team and maximizing its lottery position. They’ll find a way to make a sub-20 win season happen and stand out above (below?) the rest of league’s the aspiring tankers.
Toporek: Twenty sounds about right. They’ll get tossed around like a rag doll during the first month of the season, but should begin stealing a few wins as the season progresses. Two battles with both Boston and Charlotte in April loom as potential lottery-altering games, as does the Sixers’ final game of the season against a presumably resting Miami Heat squad.
5. “And with the ___ pick in the 2014 draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select _____.”
Calabro: “And with the third pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Jabari Parker. You really think the Basketball gods are giving Philly the top pick? Please.
Goldwein: “And with the second pick in the 2014 draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Andrew Wiggins.” The 6’8″ Canadian phenom will tear his ACL in the finals of the NCAA Championship, triggering a three-day discussion on why the NBA’s minimum-age requirement is bullshit. The Lakers will pass on Wiggins and take Marcus Smart first overall (Kobe’s gotta win NOW), leaving the Sixers with the most hyped prospect since LeBron James.
Share: “And with the second pick in the 2014 draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Julius Randle.”
Sunnergren: “And with the second pick in the 2014 draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Julius Randle.” Wiggins is the grand prize, of course, and the Sixers appear as well positioned as any of the NBAs 30 teams to grab him, but I just can’t bring myself to predict it. In part, I don’t trust the NBA. The league doesn’t care for tanking, and my paranoid/plausible fear is that it won’t stand for as brazen a tank job as the Sixers are about to pull. Also: good things—things like Andrew Wiggins—just don’t happen to Philadelphia. That said, Randle is a fine consolation.
Toporek: “And with the third pick in the 2014 draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Jabari Parker”. After trading Marcin Gortat for Emeka Okafor, Phoenix now has the inside track in the Riggin’ for Wiggins race. If the Sixers can out-tank Orlando, they’ll have a real chance of landing a top-two pick. Otherwise, assuming the lottery gods don’t smile upon Philadelphia, the Sixers will have to settle for the draft’s best small forward.