Enemy Lines: A rival scout sizes up the 76ers
2012-13 Record: 34-48
Coach: Brett Brown (first season with 76ers)
It's going to be a miserable season for the 76ers. The building is going to be empty, but would you rather have it be full and booing? They have no scoring, so they're going to have to push the ball up the floor and try to get easier baskets in transition. They're going to depend on Michael Carter-Williams as a rookie point guard, which is a hard thing on a team without scorers.
Two postseasons ago, they took the Celtics to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Now look at them. Who would be their veteran player in the most demand from other teams? Swingman Evan Turner is pretty good. Center Spencer Hawes would be somebody others would want, and forward Thaddeus Young has impressed me with his effort on a consistent basis.
Turner is one of those guys who, if you put him on a better team, he would probably be pretty good because he has a pretty even skill set. The way he competes would transpose to a better team. He is not the kind of scorer who takes over games, but you'll see the ball in his hands a lot because he can attack the seams and get into the lane. A guy who rebounds like he does from the 2 or 3 -- you can't call him soft. You'd think he'd go to the free-throw line more, given his rugged style. Developing his jump shot would do wonders for Turner because it would force defenders to come out and guard him instead of sitting back waiting for him to penetrate.
I understand when they talk about wanting to bring back the joy of the game for Turner. As creative and ingenious as [former coach] Doug Collins was, it was very hard to figure out what the hell they were doing. A coach says something and, as a scout, you look on the floor and usually you know what they're going to do. But there were so many times you'd see Collins directing, and the guys were looking at him and saying, Where are we at? Where are we going here? Your scouting report would be along the lines of, "I think this is what they're trying to get toward, but a lot of times they don't do what he's calling." And in spite of that, Turner always competed.
Young always brought effort, too. His perimeter shooting has improved, which has surprised me over the years, though he's not a deep threat. He can take the ball to the basket and also make the intermediate jump shot. He's not a great free-throw shooter. He's good defensively. But if he has to start against premier players, he's going to come up short. The bigger 4s will give him problems inside, and he won't have the lateral quickness on the perimeter to deal with the small forwards who are quicker and attacking the basket off the dribble. He's the classic tweener.
Hawes would be quite an asset coming off the bench for a good team. I've grown to respect his perimeter game and his ability to rebound, even though he's not athletic. Hawes is a below-the-rim center. He has nice footwork and touch, and he plays with his head up and can make passes. He's not a power player. He gets taken advantage of because he doesn't have the bulk of other centers.
Lavoy Allen intrigues me. He came out of nowhere and had a good rookie season but didn't take the next step last year. He can hit mid-range jump shots. He has decent size and length, but he's not a great rebounder. For a backup forward, he's pretty good. At the end of shot clock in his rookie year, he was able to knock down the shot because the other team was daring him; now as one of the central parts of the team, he's not going to have the open looks he did before.
One of the Sixers' many problems is that they're going to start the season without anybody to protect the rim. Allen has a long reach, but he's not that big. Hawes will challenge shots and maybe get a block a game, but he's not quick off his feet. Is Kwame Brown a factor for them? And rookie No. 6 pick Nerlens Noel is sidelined, possibly for the season, while rehabbing from ACL surgery.
When Jason Richardson comes back from his knee injury, I don't know if he'll have much left. I also don't know if it makes sense to give him minutes on a team looking to see what it has with younger players such as second-year guard Tony Wroten, who needs to play with more discipline.
Arnett Moultrie is more of a perimeter power forward than a back-to-the-basket guy. He has decent athleticism and length. I see more limitations than promise from him.
Brett Brown has been a head coach before [in the Australian league and with the Australian national team]. I'm looking to see if he is a disciple of Gregg Popovich in San Antonio [where Brown was an assistant coach the previous seven seasons], or if he's going to step out and do his own thing.