Training camp has officially kicked offfor the 76ers.
After 37 combined victories in the past two seasons, the Sixers aren’t expected to be drastically better than they were in 2013-14 or 2014-15.
With Joel Embiid out for a second consecutive season, the Sixers are already missing a potential cornerstone of their future.
Still, this is a new season with new circumstances.
3 reasons for optimism:
- The combination of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. These two young big men could be around for the next decade and that’s what the Sixers are hoping for. Noel steadily improved last season and Okafor was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the most recent draft. This duo is still young with so much to learn. But there’s hope and potential on the front line for the first time in quite a while.
- Nik Stauskas could wind up being the Sixers’ best shooter in years. A former first-round pick of the Sacramento Kings, Stauskas came to the Sixers in an offseason change. Sometimes, a change of scenery pays huge dividends. Stauskas has all the skills to be a solid player in the NBA. If he can develop with the Sixers, it just may be a steal of a trade.
- Robert Covington hit 167 shots from beyond the arc last season. He was also one of the most improved players on the whole roster by the end of the season. Not bad for a relatively unknown player who attended Tennessee State. Covington got better in all aspects from shooting to ball handling to defense. Look for another year of improvement from this young talented forward.
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3 reasons for pessimism:
- The Sixers don’t have a true point guard. Since trading Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks, it has been a revolving door at point guard. Will it be Tony Wroten? Isaiah Canaan? Kendall Marshall? Pierre Jackson? Someone else? So many questions and not a strong answer. Entering a season like this is not ideal. There will be plenty of competition at point guard, but clearly this team needs more.
- The bench is thin. Toothpick thin. Oh, there will be plenty of training camp battles. But a legitimate bench is lacking. If the starting five suffers an injury or two, the Sixers will be even thinner. A player like Scottie Wilbekin could receive a major opportunity, but the roster building is still very much a work-in-progress.
- Coach Brett Brown is entering the third year on the sidelines. The first two seasons have been quite challenging. His third season won’t be much easier. It’s natural to wonder if Brown will be interested in staying put for the long run. It depends on how quickly the Sixers progress. The franchise has put so much time, effort and money into Brown molding this group. It would be a shame if he’s not the long term answer. Winning solves a lot of problems, but this team doesn’t appear to be headed for many Ws this season.