Last week on ESPN.com, John Hollinger released his predictions for all NBA teams. His take on the 76ers? Not bad at all: Hollinger predicted the Sixers would finish the 2010-11 season with a record of 43-39.
Here's a quick snippet of Hollinger's thinking:
"I'm far more optimistic about the Sixers than most; in fact I, expect them to make the playoffs. Before you petition ESPN to have me committed, allow me to explain. Two factors in particular have me bullish on Philly. First, Collins will make the team dramatically better on defense than it was a year ago, simply by adding a level of accountability and preparation that didn't exist previously.
Second, the Sixers have an underrated store of young talent and I suspect they're capable of fairly rapid improvement. Holiday, in particular, should make strong progress from a year ago, but Young (22), Hawes (22), Speights (23), Williams (24), Brackins (23) and even Iguodala (26) all are capable of taking their games up another notch or two.
I made Philly's projection with fairly modest estimates for Turner and Holiday, but if Turner has a Rookie of the Year-caliber season, it would provide another reason to believe in a mini-renaissance by the Sixers. Brackins could be another positive, especially if he adds a desperately-needed shooter to the rotation."
To read all of Hollinger's take, you can find it here: ESPN
With the Sixers opening their preseason schedule tonight here in Roanoke, VA, against the New Jersey Nets, it seems like the time to discuss exactly how good (or bad) this team might be this season. Before seeing any sort of finished product put on the court, we're predicting a final record of 42-40 for the 2010-11 season.
Dedication feels like a mindset this season. The season before last -- we all know what went down last year -- the team finished 41-41. Even then, the big talk at the end of the season was a "lack of accountability." It makes you wonder what that team might have accomplished (perhaps an opening round victory over the Magic) if each player had been onboard with what was happening. It seems the Sixers will have no such issues this year. Whatever ounce of effort and detail Collins can squeeze out of this group, he will. That means the Sixers aren't in danger of underachieving. Perhaps if we didn't expect a little upswing, a little overachieving, from this team, the prediction would be 38-44, but with everything this team is saying and doing you have to expect a few extra wins here and there.
Hollinger: 43-39; Deep Sixer: 42-40; Baseline Record: 38-44.
Hollinger also takes the time to go through his statistical analysis of each player on the Sixers -- he's a numbers guy at heart. What follows are some interesting bits from his post. You can find the entire article here: Hollinger
Some interesting takeaways:
*Young is remarkably more effective, from a statistical perspective, as a power forward. (Collins has him penciled in as the team's starting small forward.)
*Hollinger basically tears apart Jason Kapono's game, saying that he's only worth playing time if he's making 40 percent or above on threes (he made 36.8 percent last season).
*Last season, Holiday placed 69th out of 71 point guards in turnover ratio, but Hollinger considers this a positive because there's a history of point guards developing more quickly when exposed in their rookie seasons.
*"Statistically, Evan Turner looks like a can't-miss prospect."
*And here's this quote from Hollinger regarding Brand: "While he seems reluctant to embrace life as the fourth option, that's what he's become."
That doesn't seem like support for a 43-39 prediction, but there's plenty of good in there too: Iguodala's effect on a game, Lou Williams growing efficiency, Holiday's all-world defensive talent, the insta-offense of Speights, and the potential of Jodie Meeks as a zone-buster.
We'll have more after tonight's first game: Sixers vs. New Jersey Nets. If you want to follow in live time on Twitter, click here: Deep Sixer