It has been a relatively quiet offseason for the 76ers.
But soon enough, the 2015-16 season will be upon us. Even though the Delaware Valley is anxiously anticipating the Sam Bradford era, the Sixers’ season will sneak up with the regular season opening Oct. 28 at Boston.
For a sneak preview, let’s look at three key regular season games in the early going along with three players to watch.
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- Nov. 2 vs. Cleveland – LeBron James will arrive early at the Wells Fargo Center, so a large crowd should be expected. It will be an early test for the young Philadelphia roster, especially rookie Jahlil Okafor.
- Dec. 1 vs. Los Angeles Lakers – This could be Kobe Bryant’s final visit to Philadelphia. That’s a big deal, obviously. Bryant hasn’t suited up in Philadelphia in nearly three years, and he’ll be motivated to have a huge game.
- Dec. 18 vs. New York – This won’t be a playoff preview, but it will be a glimpse into the future. Rookie Kristaps Porzingis will be closely scrutinized all season and it will be interesting to see if Carmelo Anthony can recapture his All-Star form.
The Sixers currently have 19 players on their roster and this young group will likely struggle once again after 37 combined victories over the last two seasons.
Watching the players develop will give the fans some hope in the coming years and it all starts with Nerlens Noel.
- Noel averaged 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots in 75 games last season. More than that he gained valuable experience after missing the previous season with a torn ACL. Noel needed to be on the court as much as possible despite all the losses. He should be much more polished this season, especially with the addition of Okafor.
- Speaking of Okafor, he improved steadily over the summer. Clearly, there is plenty of work ahead with his free throw shooting and conditioning. Grabbing Okafor with the No. 3 overall pick was the right move at the right time. If Joel Embiid can ever come back healthy, this frontline has a chance to be outstanding. Watching Okafor’s growth in the first part of the season will be fascinating.
- Nik Stauskas will have every chance to shine at shooting guard. The lack of a consistent outside threat has hampered the Sixers. Stauskas was taken with the No. 8 overall choice in 2014 by the Sacramento Kings and he has tremendous upside. If Stauskas can emerge as a legitimate shooter with the Sixers, it will help in so many ways.