All eyes are on other teams as the Philadelphia 76ers get ready for training camp beginning October 1.
New general manager Sam Hinkie wouldn't want it any other way.
Most teams will be entering the 2013-14 season with the goal of winning an NBA title. Instead, Philadelphia will be competing with the likes of the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats and Phoenix Suns for the incredible last place position.
The worse the finish, the better the chance of receiving the No. 1 pick in the highly anticipated 2014 NBA draft.
Sixers 2012-13 Results
- 34-48 Record (.415)
- 4th in Atlantic Division
- 9th in Eastern Conference
- Zero games played by Andrew Bynum
Key Stats: The Good and Bad
We'll start with the cup being half full.
If the Sixers did anything well, it was taking care of the basketball. Philly finished at No. 2 in fewest turnovers with only 12.6 per game.
Not playing in an up-tempo offense largely factored into such low turnover numbers. Valuing possessions was a priority and it showed in the box scores.
Now, the cup is suddenly half empty.
Philadelphia finished tied for last in points per game at a measly 93.2. To put how bad this was into perspective, 11 teams finished with at least 100.0 points per game.
Failing to have any kind of post presence certainly contributed to the low numbers. Still though, the Sixers just didn't have anybody who could take over a game and put points on the board at a high enough rate.
Biggest Storylines Entering Training Camp
The Sixers are starting from scratch in almost every imaginable way. They have a new general manager, a new head coach and will be taking the court with a new point guard.
How long will it take Philadelphia to get away from sloppy play?
If you're a fan of tanking for a better draft pick, then you're hoping that Philadelphia never answers this question.
The crazy part is that you just might get what you want.
Michael Carter-Williams is taking over at point and will start the Sixers off on the wrong foot. This kind of experience will be invaluable to Carter-Williams, but it'll come at the price of Philly's success.
New head coach Brett Brown will also have a steep learning curve as he adjusts to being more than an assistant coach. The goal for Brown is to turn the corner and find his feet by next season. This year is more of a warm-up jog.
That'll give Philadelphia plenty of time to tally up some losses.
Key Additions and Losses
Key Additions: Nerlens Noel, C (Two years, $6.5 million remaining), Michael Carter-Williams, PG (Two years, $3.8 million)
Key Losses: Jrue Holiday, PG (Four years, $43 million remaining with NO), Andrew Bynum, C (Two years, $24.8 million remaining with CLE), Nick Young, SG (Two years, $2.3 million remaining with LAL)
Biggest Addition: Nerlens Noel
The word "future" gets unfairly thrown around way too much. It needs to be reserved for the special.
The kind of players who can change a franchise.
Luckily, future and Noel go hand-in-hand as he could truly be a Philadelphia centerpiece for years to come. His offense is definitely subpar, but he more than makes up for this with his defensive abilities. He controls the paint with his shot-blocking, and uses his athleticism to put himself in position for steals and deflections.
A realistic return date for Noel is somewhere around the All-Star break. He'll need to take the right amount of time to recover from a left ACL tear.
Expect big things when he does get back to the court, though.
He's that kind of player.
Biggest Loss: Jrue Holiday
It can take years for a team to recover after losing somebody like Holiday. At 22 years old, he was the team's most composed, successful and talented player. Everything from his on-court leadership to his ridiculous potential left people wondering what could have been.
Unfortunately, he won't be in a Sixers uniform.
Philadelphia has put themselves in a position to bounce back from his loss relatively quickly thanks to draft picks and young talent.
They just better hope it all pans out.
*Depth Chart includes players with non-guaranteed contracts or training camp invites
You might wonder how the competition for backup point guard is the biggest training camp battle, but the answer is simple.
There aren't any other battles.
The majority of Philadelphia's lineup is set. People know where they will be starting the season. It just so happens that the biggest question is who will be Carter-Williams' backup?
Morris has to have a little edge after his semi-successful run with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was never more than a role player, but that is still more than can be said about Wroten and his time with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Morris might be leading the race, but expect a relatively even matchup when the two hit the court. It's really anybody's spot from there.
Battling for a Roster Spot: Khalif Wyatt vs. Everybody Else
Wyatt had a strong showing in the Orlando Pro Summer League averaging 13.8 points while shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range. Leading the Sixers in scoring showed that his unique game could translate to the NBA, even if he doesn't always look athletic.
Wyatt signed a partially-guaranteed deal with Philadelphia, meaning he will be on the team's roster when they open the regular season. The issue is that he could spend the majority of the year in the Development League if he doesn't stick.
Hinkie has already come out and said that he plans on inviting the maximum number of guys to training camp. Giving 20 men a chance to make the team will give the Sixers staff a number of guys to evaluate.
Wyatt needs to show that the summer wasn't a fluke. It'll require him to beat out a large number of those invited to camp.
If he does, look for him to be one of Philadelphia's backup shooting guards when the season rolls around.
Biggest X-Factor: Evan Turner
Will Turner live up to the expectations of being the No. 2 pick in the 2010 NBA draft?
Up to this point he hasn't given people much reason to believe that he will, yet fans still hold out hope. It's all because there have been flashes of brilliance.
Being able to play the point-forward position is incredibly rare. Turner has showed that he can not only do it, but he can succeed at the spot. It's something not many NBA players are capable of doing.
Philadelphia doesn't have much of a ceiling, but a successful year out of Turner would account for about seven or eight more wins.
It would definitely make a difference.
Sixers Best-Case Scenario in 2013-14
Opposing teams underestimate Philadelphia from the start and the Sixers pull off a couple of surprising wins.
A young team with nothing to lose has a weird way of doing this sometimes. It won't equal a playoff spot, but it could be the difference between some other team getting one or not.
This scenario would put Philly around 27 wins. Not great, but not at the bottom either.
Sixers Worst-Case Scenario in 2013-14
The worst-case scenario will actually end up being what suits the Sixers best interest.
Coming out and laying egg after egg will only lead to a wider gap in Philadelphia's win-loss column. A bigger gap would pave the way toward an exciting 2014 NBA draft.
Ending the season with a 15-67 record sounds like what the basketball doctor ordered. This kind of scenario would lead to just that.
People are expecting the Sixers to struggle and it's for good reason.
They just aren't a good team.
It's rare for a bad team to have much success. Carter-Williams will go through his growing pains, and Turner will most likely stay on the same unimpressive road. Thaddeus Young will also understand what it's like to be the best player on a team with no hope for the 2013-14 season.
The basketball will be uglier than usual, but hopefully it'll lead to a prettier future.
Who knows, maybe one of the unknown younger players on Philadelphia's roster will end up making a name for himself.
Prediction: 18-64, Second-to-last in the NBA.
Sit back and relax folks. The 2013-14 season should be pressure-free for Sixers fans. You might feel a little anxiety in wanting to lose games, but it'll be a new feeling and hopefully one that doesn't last past this upcoming season.
The future is bright.
It's just going to take some time to get through the darkness first.
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