Five things to look for as Sixers training camp opens Tuesday:
1. The backcourt: Much praise is being laid on second-year point guard Jrue Holiday, who has a new backcourt running mate in second overall pick Evan Turner. Holiday will be a staple at the point. When he is not in the game, Turner could spell him for a time there, as coach Doug Collins has talked about how well Turner has looked in preseason workouts at the point. If Turner is a little slow in adapting to the NBA game, Lou Williams could start at the two, at least for the beginning of the season. Jodi Meeks will provide scoring punch off the bench.
2. Interior defense: The split with center Sam Dalembert was one that had to be done, for both parties, but it left a gaping hole as far as a last line of defense. Spencer Hawes, Marreese Speights and Elton Brand won’t strike fear into many who drive to the basket, though they should benefit from Collins’ defensive schemes. They’ll also get help from a solid group of perimeter defenders headed by Holiday, Andre Iguodala and Turner.
3. New coach Doug Collins: There is little doubt that Collins is one of the best basketball minds around the NBA game, and few could match his enthusiasm and eagerness to get this season started. There probably couldn’t be a better person to bring in to lift spirits after last year’s dreadful 27-win season.
4. Elton Brand: This is the first time in three seasons that Brand has come in without an injury that cut short his previous season. His Achilles’ and shoulder injuries are fully healed and the 6-9 forward/center professes to be raring to go. He was asked by Collins to show up at camp at 255 pounds and reported in at a lean 252. Whether he is a starter or the first big off the bench remains to be seen and will probably play out in training camp. No matter, this team needs him to be a physical presence inside and to be able to score some points within the framework of the offense which will consist on a lot of running.
5. Perimeter shooting. The acquisition of Andres Nocioni gives the team another deep shooting threat to go along with Jason Kapono. If the likes of Turner and Holiday and Williams can hit consistently from the outside, that will open up things inside and make it a whole lot easier for Andre Iguodala and Thad Young and others to get to the basket, which is the strength of their games.
-- Bob Cooney