Apparently the Sixers open their season tonight against some guy named Lebron. It's going to be a long, unexciting season. The only consolation is that we in Philadelphia are not alone in our basketball irrelevance. Unless you live in Miami, Los Angeles, Boston, Oklahoma City, or Orlando, there isn't much reason to watch basketball this year. The NBA sucks and I find myself daydreaming of the '90's NBA of young Shaq, KG and Steph, Barkley, Shawn Kemp and G Payton, The Dream, Penny, C-Webb, Knicks-Heat playoff rumbles, and the Allen Iverson era here in Philly.
Unfortunately those days are long gone, but I love basketball and so I search for reasons to follow my irrelevant favorite team and the NBA in general. Here's what I got.
The development of Jrue Holiday.
The 20 year old second year point guard will be handed the reigns of the Sixers. He averaged 8 points, 3.8 assists, and 1.08 steals in 24.2 minutes last season as a rookie. He showed some real good signs. As he takes over the starting role at pg, will he take steps forward and progress, or will he regress? Hopefully it will be the former and I'll be watching to see if the Sixers have a solid piece in place as the point guard of the future.
What kind of player is Marreese Speights?
Another young player with upside, the 6-10 forward has struggled at times. He has the size to be a presence in the paint and provide scoring and rebounding down low, but needs to show that he won't be a liability defensively. Much like with Holiday, I'll be looking to see if he progresses or regresses and assessing his legitimacy as a future staple in this lineup.
Where does Lou Williams fit in?
Coach Doug Collins has said that Lou has been his best player this preseason. Because Holiday will be starting at the point, the Sixers will look for Williams to provide a spark off the bench, which I think he can do. Lou has been around for 5 years, so Sixers fans have watched his (slow) development. He did some good things last year, averaging 14 points and 4 assists in close to 30 minutes. But this is all about the future so hopefully this season will bring some clarity on how he fits into the future plans because despite being in the league for 5 years he is only 24 years old. I like Lou Williams and I hope to see him build on last season and cement a role on this team in the years to come.
Can/Will the Sixers move Andre Iguodala?
Iguodala is a nice player. He can do a little bit of everything, score, pass, and rebound. He is a stopper on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately the Sixers decided it would be a good idea to pay him like a superstar, face-of-the-franchise type player, which he is not. He would be a fantastic addition to a lot of teams with a strong core already in place, and could bring solid value in return for the Sixers.
Will the real Thaddeus Young please stand up?
I think this is a make or break year for Thad, at least as far as his future as a Sixer is concerned. He showed great upside his rookie year, and then has gotten worse his following two. Athletic and with decent size he has the potential to be a real nice hybrid type player, a little on the wing, a little in the post, who can also get out and run. I had high hopes for him after the rookie campaign, but now I'm not so sure. I think this season will decide whether or not he will join (hopefully) Jrue and Marreese in a young and promising core.
Will Jason Kapono really contribute?
This goes against the appraisal-for-the-future theme of the Sixers season and of this post, but I like Jason Kapono, and his headbands, and I like watching him shoot the ball. He will start at the 3 spot to start the year and I'm curious to see how he responds.
Did the Sixers botch the #2 pick?
They took Evan Turner, a 6-7 wingman. He won college player of the year at Ohio State. I haven't really seen him play, but from what I hear it's not looking good. Hopefully he gets his footing and becomes the player the Sixers think he can be, because if not its another setback that the Sixers can't really afford.
So that's what I'll be looking at as I watch our Sixers lose game after game. As far as the rest of the NBA, I'll be rooting against the Heat, which I fear will end up meaning rooting for Kobe, which goes against everything I believe in. And I'll be watching Oklahoma City and Kevin Durant, because they have a young, exciting team (with a superstar in place which separates them from the Sixers), and Kevin Durant is the man. Hopefully the Eagles and Flyers will provide some winning to get us through the winter. Oh, and the college basketball scene is looking real promising, with both Villanova and Temple in the preseason top 25.