2011-12 Record: 35-31, third place in Atlantic Division, eliminated in Eastern Conference semi-finals by Boston Celtics
Offseason Additions: G Nick Young (1 year, $6 million), G Jason Richardson (acquired from Orlando Magic), G Royal Ivey (1 year, $1.6 million), F Dorell Wright (acquired from Golden State Warriors), C Kwame Brown (2 years, $6 million), C Andrew Bynum (acquired from Los Angeles Lakers)
Offseason Losses: G Jodie Meeks (signed with Los Angeles Lakers), G Lou Williams (sign-and-trade with Atlanta Hawks), F Andre Iguodala (traded to Denver Nuggets), F Edin Bavcic (traded to Golden State Warriors), F Elton Brand (amnestied, claimed by Dallas Mavericks), F Moe Harkless (traded to Orlando Magic), C Nikola Vucevic (traded to Orlando Magic)
Re-signed: F Lavoy Allen (2 years, $6 million), C Spencer Hawes (2 years, $13 million)
Projected Starting Line-up: PG Jrue Holiday, SG Jason Richardson, SF Evan Turner, PF Spencer Hawes, C Andrew Bynum
OFFSEASON GRADE: B +/A -
Kudos to presiding General Manager Rod Thorn for fully realizing and embracing the notion that this 76ers team was nothing more than second-round fodder for the more elite teams of the Eastern Conference.
The truth shall set you free Sixers fans.
Philadelphia had quite the successful postseason run in 2012, knocking off the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls in the first round and taking the Boston Celtics to the limit in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
That was the 76ers ceiling though.
They aren’t the Miami Heat. They aren’t the Boston Celtics. With a healthy Derrick Rose, they aren’t the Chicago Bulls.
In order to take that next step towards greatness, moves had to be made to revamp a roster that was good enough to compete, but never good enough to be a threat for an NBA Championship.
As part of the four-team trade that shipped Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard off to the Los Angeles Lakers, the 76ers would send “franchise player” Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets. In return, the team would receive center Andrew Bynum from the Lakers as the teams new cornerstone of the future (hopefully).
With all due respect to Iguodala, he was not the man to lead this team to an NBA title. While a tremendous player in his own right (12.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 2012), he didn’t have a big enough impact on the offensive end that a franchise-type player should.
Andrew Bynum changes the entire landscape of this team. He was a big fish in a big pond competing in Los Angeles for 7 years. No matter how dominant a player he was or was turning out to be, he was never going to overtake the likes of Kobe Bryant and possibly even Pau Gasol for that matter as the focus of the offense.
In Philadelphia, Bynum (clearly) is the man. He is the focus. The ball will go through him 95% of the time while on the court. He averaged a double-double of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds (both career-highs) on route to his very first all-star appearance last season for the Lakers. No one player on the Sixers roster last season averaged more than 15.0 points a game.
As the clear-cut second best center in the NBA behind his trade counterpart Dwight, Andrew Bynum instantly makes the 76ers a much larger threat in the East, something Iguodala never did.
The only thing that should scare Sixers fans just a little is that Andrew will become a free-agent at the end of this season and can go off and sign with any team he so chooses, leaving Philadelphia without any compensation. On the plus side, the only team that can offer Bynum a max contract worth upwards of $100 million in the summer of 2013 would be the 76ers. That’s going to be extremely hard to walk away from.
Philadelphia’s leading scorer in 2012 Lou Williams (14.9 points a game, off the bench) agreed to a sign-and-trade with the Atlanta Hawks this summer. To replace his offense and perimeter scoring, the 76ers acquired 3 talented wings who will surely compensate for the numbers Williams put up last season.
Also included in the Dwight Howard trade, 13 year veteran Jason Richardson now makes his way to the City of Brotherly Love, playing for the 5th different team of his career. Richardson averaged 11.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 54 games last season for the Orlando Magic. He may not be as explosive with the ball as he was earlier in his career, but he is still a threat from the perimeter if left open and can hit the open jay if need be. As a career 17.5 points per game scorer, his offense will be a welcome addition to a team that only put up 93.6 a game themselves (22nd in the league).
In a trade with Golden State, Philadelphia sent the rights to European prospect Edin Bavcic to the Warriors in exchange for small forward Dorell Wright. After a career year in 2011 which saw Wright average 16.4 points and 5.3 rebounds a game, he unfortunately saw that progress temper off in 2012, putting up only 10.3 points a game in almost 11 fewer minutes of action. With newly drafted Harrison Barnes on board and Richard Jefferson also taking up time at the 3 spot, Wright’s days in Golden State were officially numbered.
For the 76ers, Wright will see his role in this league further diminish as he comes off the bench (more than likely) backing up projected starter Evan Turner. Dorell can still score with the best of them and shoot the 3-point shot effectively, but the big plus from this deal is that Wright is entering the final year of his 3-year, $11 million dollar contract, which will help Philadelphia with cap space at the end of next season.
Speaking of 1 year deals, the 76ers also managed to land former Clippers guard Nick Young this offseason, signing him to a 1-year, $6 million dollar contract. Young has been instant offense on every team he’s competed for, averaging 11.4 points a game over his 6-year career. He’s not much for creating his own shot, but he’s an excellent catch-and-shoot type player who can work well off the pick-and-roll. For just one year, the 76ers can take their chances with Young in hopes that he can help replace the scoring punch lost with Lou Williams departure.
In an effort to add depth to the center position and allow former starter Spencer Hawes to move down to the power forward position (this was before the Andrew Bynum deal mind you), the Sixers signed former #1 overall pick in 2001 Kwame Brown to a 2 year, $6 million dollar deal.
Having been ridiculed for the majority of his career for having little to no fundamental basketball skills, Kwame Brown has actually emerged as quite the serviceable backup big in recent years. Competing in just 9 games last season for Golden State, Brown put up numbers 6.3 points and 6,3 rebounds in 20 minutes of action a night. With Andrew Bynum now slotted in at the starting center position and Hawes at power forward, Brown will have little to no pressure on his shoulders and can now play spot minutes off the bench in isolated situations.
I absolutely love the moves Philadelphia made this offseason to shore up its roster in hopes of vaulting itself up the standings in the East.
I’ll love these moves even more if Andrew Bynum decides to re-sign at the end of next season.
With Derrick Rose out for the foreseeable future in Chicago, you can now slot the 76ers up their with the Heat and Celtics as the very best teams in the Eastern Conference.
It remains to be seen as to whether or not this 76ers team can knock off one of the big guns just yet (their odds are a lot better now than they were last year), but come playoff time, I don’t think anyone wants to find themselves paired up with this Philadelphia squad in a 7-game series.
They were a great team last year, but now, they’re even greater.
OTHER OFFSEASON RECAPS: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports