Feeling Good in Philadelphia
Last year when living in Washington DC, I attended a Wizards/Sixers game. Despite going to catch a glimpse at a recently returned Gilbert Arenas, the thing I noticed most from the game was the energy and talent of the 76ers. I wasn’t surprised when they had the Pistons on the ropes in the first round and knew they were close to being an elite team in the Eastern Conference. In the off-season, they made the move they needed to make to become serious contenders by bringing in Elton Brand to play power forward. Obviously, Boston is the clear cut favorite in the Atlantic Division but don’t be surprised to see the Sixers give them a run for their money.
Andre Miller is no longer a piece in ongoing trade talks. He has settled in as a Sixer and become a leader, while being one of the league’s best at his position. Andre Iguodala joins him in the backcourt. After a rough post-season, when he struggled as the team’s go to guy, Iguodala no longer faces the pressure of being the constant #1 option thanks to the addition of Brand. He is one of the most athletic guards in the league and is an excellent defender. The depth in the backcourt is excellent. Louis Williams is one of the better young guards in the league and is the eventual successor to Miller at the point guard position. Willie Green is a talented swingman who can score in bunches.
Thaddeus Young had a strong rookie campaign and is very quietly one of the best young forwards in basketball. Elton Brand was a needed addition in order to compete in the half-court against the Celtics and Raptors. He should provide the Sixers with a legit go to guy on a consistent basis, which is something Iguodala couldn’t do. Samuel Dalembert is an athletic big man who is improving every year, and is one of the better centers in the NBA. Off the bench, Kareem Rush and Donyell Marshall provide much needed outside shooting, while Reggie Evans and Theo Ratliff provide defense and size.
The Sixers are a deep team, and arguably the most athletic one in the Eastern Conference. They aren’t up to the Celtics level yet, but aren’t too far off. Philly should be a 50 win team and make a strong run for the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference.