As we play out the final weeks of the 2011-'12 NBA season, we take a look at each franchise. Who emerged, what went wrong, what lies ahead. A look at post season chances, long term potential and upgrades possible in this summer's NBA draft. We continue in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference with the Philadelphia 76ers.
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The Sixers are one of the success stories this season, currently sitting in the eight hole in the playoff picture. Doug Collins has juggled a handful of veterans with the slew of lottery picks the Sixers have been stockpiling. It is unlikely the Sixers will survive a first round series with Miami, but Chicago with a hobbled Derek Rose is a much better matchup. Moving forward, Philly needs to re-up center Spencer Hawes and address power forward and point guard in the draft.
Only two million under the salary cap, Philly could become a major player in free agency by dumping Elton Brand via the amnesty provision. The funds would help re-sign Spencer Hawes, with Thadeus Young the leading candidate to take over at the four.
The 76ers are one of only a few in the Association holding both their original draft selections. The direction Collins and company take in the draft will depend largely on the return of Hawes and/or Brand. If Williams opts out, a point to backup Jrue Holiday will be needed. If Philly dumps Brand, how about Ohio State behemoth Jared Sullinger? Villanova junior point guard Maalik Wayns would be a good fit in the second round.
The Sixers have endured the injuries and the ridiculously high contract of Brand thus far, will they dump him (via amnesty) in the final year? A veteran leader on a young and talented club, Collins may want to keep Elton around for one more season.
The Good: The Sixers have a good shot at post season and have a solid core of young talent. Andre Iguodola, Thadeus Young, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner are athletic and just entering their prime. If Philly uses their amnesty provision on Brand, twenty million can go a long way in free agency. A power player in the first round, retaining Spencer Hawes and the potential of considerable cap space will give Collins a core of eight players to continue to build upon.
The Bad: Lou Williams, arguably the most improved player in the Association will probably test free agency. Spencer Hawes may find suitors willing to pay him more than the Sixers can afford. If Collins doesn't want to part with Brand, cap room will be minimal. Thadeus Young is a tweener, very effective as a combo forward, but not a great fit as a full-time four. Turner is a great all-around player, but lacking range needed at the two.
The Sixers only have seven players under contract for the 2012-'13 season. Elton Brand is in the final year of his mega-deal and has an early termination option on the more than $18 million due next season. The chances of him opting out of that are about the same as you doing so. Point guard Louis Williams is a different story. Leading Philly in scoring while coming off the bench, Lou is certain to test the free agent waters to improve on the $5.3 million currently on the table. Philadelphia will try and re-sign center Spencer Hawes and possibly small forward reserve Sam Young. Guard Jodie Meeks and local product Lavoy Allen are other affordable options.
Who Are The Experts Taking and When? Check Out The Latest ADP from The NFBC!
Elton Brand, Andre Iguodola, Thadeus Young
Louis Williams, Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday
Spencer Hawes, Craig Brackens, Sam Young, Jodie Meeks, Lavoy Allen, Jared Sullinger, Maalik Wayns
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Tom Blaz is a writer for Fantasy Alarm and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics.
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