Nerlens: Predicting His Rookie Season

For sixers fans, the Orlando Summer League is worth watching for many reasons. We get the chance to see our high 2nd round draft picks take the floor. We get to see Travis Bader, the 3-point specialist, fight for a spot on the team. Fans also get to see the emergence of the high-flying Ronald Roberts Jr. making highlight plays. All of these players are reasons why fans are tuning in to watch the 76ers in Orlando, but these rookies aren’t the main attraction. What keeps fans glued to the television is the mystery that is Nerlens Noel. The defensive center finally took the floor for the 76ers after a year of rehabbing a torn ACL. Not known for his offensive touch, Nerlens did a great job in his first action of the offseason, finishing with 19 points and 4 steals. The debut of Noel was a sight for sore eyes, especially for sixers fans, who struggled through the team’s 19 win season. Noel’s summer league debut was great, but what can we expect from him during the regular season?

Nerlens, still being quite raw on the offensive side of the ball at this point in his career, will surely need to work on his offensive game during the season. As the season progresses, expect Noel to continuously work on his 10-15ft jump shot. If Noel can add a consistent jump shot to his game, he can become a dangerous option on offense.

Noel, who is known for his defensive potential, will definitely make a immediate impact on that side of the ball. One thing that I noticed in his first game of the summer league is that he was very active on defense. His lanky body type gave him the ability to completely disrupt Orlando’s pick and roll offense. In the paint, each shot that went up against him was heavily contested. This season we’ll get the chance to see something that sixers fans haven’t seen in awhile, a rim protector. Get excited.

The return of Nerlens Noel will bring new life within the fans and organization. His explosiveness and defensive potential will be something special to watch for during the NBA season. With all of that being said, how much can he contribute to the team this season? One player I look to when trying to predict Noel’s first season on the court is Joakim Noah. Noah had a similar skill set to Nerlens when coming out of Florida. Not much of an offensive threat, Noah averaged 6.6 PPG during his rookie season. In 20.7 MPG, Noah shot 48% from the floor, grabbed 5.6 RPG, and averaged under a block per game. While looking at these numbers, I think Noel can average similar, but better numbers in his first NBA season. I believe Nerlens’ numbers will be somewhat higher than Noah’s rookie year mainly because Noel will be on the court more than 20 MPG. For the season, I think Nerlens will average close to 12 PPG on 50% shooting. Since his jump shot is a work in progress, I believe most of his points will come from within 5 ft. of the basket. One stat that may be similar to Noah’s rookie campaign can be found in the rebound column. I believe Noel will average about 7 RPG. Noel surely has the potential to grab more rebounds, but due to the lack of his weight, I believe he will have a hard time with heavier, stronger NBA centers. During the 2014-2015 NBA season , Nerlens will see most of his impact on the defensive side of the ball. I fully expect Noel to average close to 2 blocks a game. His length and defensive awareness will help him protect the rim for the 76ers this season.

Now that I’ve given you what I believe to expect from Nerlens this season, how will his contributions affect the team this year? Noel is a great talent, but there isn’t much talent around him to get this team to 30 wins this season. I believe, with the addition of Noel, the team will see little improvement in the win column this season. As the 2014-2015 NBA season comes to a close, I think we’ll see the sixers with 20-25 wins and an excellent shot at the #1 pick in the draft.

The NBA Lottery Over the Years: A Closer Look

As you all know, the NBA Draft Lottery is only a few days away. For us sixers fans, May 20th will be one of the most stressful nights of this long season due to its huge ramifications. The sixers have the second best odds of attaining the #1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Unfortunately, having the second best odds doesn’t always seem to land a top pick. Of course we have a 19.90% chance of grabbing the top selection, but our selection has a chance to slip all the way to the 5th spot. Over the past ten years there have been teams who have unexpectedly jumped into the top 3 of the draft. So let’s take a look.

In 2003, the Cavaliers came into the draft with the worst record in the league. This landed them the number #1 pick. That pick turned into LeBron James a couple weeks later. I think we all know how he’s turned out. One team that slipped into the top 3 of the draft, the Detroit Pistons, ended up with the 2nd pick in the draft with the 6th best odds. That 2nd pick landed them Darko Milicic. Remember him?

In 2004, the Orlando Magic landed the 1st overall pick with the worst record in the league. This landed them Dwight Howard. Dwight was a project at the time, but with all of his physical tools, he soon became the player we’ve come accustomed to. One team that jumped into the top 3 of the draft was the Charlotte Bobcats. The Cats landed the 2nd overall pick with the 5th best odds. With the pick, the Cats selected Emeka Okafor. Okafor never really became the player that he was projected to be. This year, being his 9th in the league, he’s had career averages of 12.3 PPG and 9.9 RPG.

In 2005, the Milwaukee Bucks jumped 5 spots in the lottery to surprisingly land the first pick in the draft. The Bucks entered the lottery with the 6th best odds to land the 1st pick. With the #1 pick, the Bucks selected Andrew Bogut. The current Golden State Warrior averaged 9.4 PPG and 7 RPG during his rookie season with the Bucks.

In 2006, another surprising jump occurred at the NBA Draft Lottery Selection Show. The Toronto Raptors, coming into the lottery, had an 8.80% chance of landing the top pick in the draft. The ping pong balls fell their way that night. With the #1 pick in the draft, the Raptors selected Andrea Bargnani. During his 7 years in the NBA, the former #1 pick has averaged 15 PPG and 4.9 RPG. Decent numbers, but not what the Raptors were expecting. They would’ve been much happier with the 2nd pick, LaMarcus Aldridge.

In 2007, the Durant-Oden draft saw a complete shake up. The Portland Trail Blazers, with a 5.30% chance of winning the lottery, ended up with the #1 pick. The Seattle SuperSonics, with an 8.80% chance of grabbing the top pick, landed in the 2nd slot. As you all know, Greg Oden went 1st overall and Kevin Durant followed immediately as the 2nd selection. I think it’s safe to say that Portland made the wrong choice here.

Over the past 10 years, no draft has seen the biggest jump than what was seen in the 2008 NBA Draft. The Chicago Bulls secured the #1 pick with the 9th best odds. The team definitely had lady luck on their side that night because they only had a 1.70% chance of winning the lottery. This landed them the explosive, yet injury prone, Derrick Rose.

In 2009, the Los Angeles Clippers landed the 1st overall pick with the 3rd best odds. This pick landed them one of their current superstars, Blake Griffin. The biggest jump in the lottery that season was found in the Memphis Grizzlies. They moved up 4 spots in the lottery which landed them the 2nd overall pick. With the pick, the Grizzlies selected Hasheem Thabeet.

In 2010, the sixers, with the 6th best odds at the #1 pick, moved all the way up to the second slot to grab Evan Turner. Yes, we all know that name, don’t we? Evan never really found his spot on the team. We thought we had our backcourt of the future solidified with Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. Well, 4 years later, neither of them are a part of the team’s future plans. The Washington Wizards selected John Wall with the #1 pick that year. They came into the draft with a 10.30% chance of grabbing the top selection. I think it’s safe to say that they made the correct choice.

In 2011, the Cleveland Cavaliers jumped 7 spots in the lottery to grab the #1 pick in the draft. Coming into the lottery, the Cavs had a 2.80% chance of acquiring the top pick in the draft. With the top pick, the Cavs selected the exciting Kyrie Irving. Irving, one of the most exciting young talents in the NBA, has certainly made a name for himself in the league. In just two seasons, he’s become an All Star who has averaged 20.7 PPG and 5.8 APG. He is a crucial piece of Cleveland’s future, if he decides to stay.

In 2012, the New Orleans Pelicans grabbed the #1 pick with the 4th best odds. With the pick, the Pelicans selected future stud, Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis is getting better every year, and will soon become one of the top players in the league. Last season, his 2nd year in the league, he averaged 20.8 PPG, 10 RPG, and 2.8 BPG. He is the future in New Orleans.

Last year’s draft saw the Cleveland Cavaliers jump up 2 spots to secure the #1 pick. Anthony Bennett was the selection. The biggest jump in the lottery was seen by the Washington Wizards. With the 8th best odds, they secured the number 3 slot, which landed them Georgetown’s Otto Porter. Both of these players have much to prove entering their second year in the league. It can be argued that both of these players have yet to find their role in the league. It will be fun to see how they progress in the upcoming years.

As you can see, the lottery has seen plenty of unexpected surprises during the past 10 years. As I went through the drafts, I noticed that the team with the 2nd best odds for the #1 pick has fallen out of the top 3 7 out of 10 times. This isn’t the best of news for sixers fans. Hopefully lady luck is on our side come May 20th. Everyone go find and hold onto your good luck charms.

10 Reasons Why You Should Be A 76ers Fan

That awkward space between the last game of the season and the NBA Lottery is here.  So why not do a piece like this to help pass the time?  Of course this post may be a bit biased, but there are plenty of reasons to be a fan of the Philadelphia 76ers.  Well, here we go.

1. The Ownership Group

Josh Harris purchased the team a couple of years ago.  Being the successful business man that he has become, he often invests into depleted businesses and helps turn them around.  He purchased the 76ers because he saw the potential of the team.  Before Harris, the team was stuck in basketball hell.  If you aren’t familiar with this term, it basically means multiple mediocre seasons with first round playoff exits.  Josh Harris has finally incorporated a plan to help turn around his investment.  It has worked before for him, so there’s a great chance it works again.

2. Sam Hinkie

Since Sam Hinkie joined the sixers as the GM, he has completely flipped the team upside down.  This is a good thing,  He was the right man for the job who will continue to flex his statistical muscles through the game’s numbers.  The man has an eye and brain for talent.  He understands that in the NBA, you have to be good at being bad in order to be good.  That makes sense, right?

3. Brett Brown

The former assistant under Greg Popovich did a great job in his first season as the 76ers head coach.  From San Antonio, he has brought a winning state of mind to Philadelphia.  He has helped develop MCW into the Rookie of the Year, has helped Nerlens Noel develop his offensive game, and has brought a great work ethic to the team in just one short season here in Philadelphia.  Brett learned a lot from one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the game.  He now has the chance to follow in the footsteps of that coaching legend.  There is no doubt, that with more talent on the roster, Brown will do an excellent job developing his players in the future.

4.  Micheal Carter-Williams

The Rookie of the Year has become one of the better younger players in the league.  I know that I’m excited about the future with MCW as our point guard.  In just one season, Carter-Williams’ game has improved tremendously.  He has come a long way.  Another thing that I like about him is that he is a competitor.  The kid loves to play the game the right way.  He leaves it out all on the court.  The future is bright for the Rook.

5.  Nerlens Noel

Even though he hasn’t played in a single game for us yet, there is an excitement surrounding the young center from Kentucky.  Nerlens has the potential to be a game changer on the defensive side of the ball.  Oh, and I KNOW you’ve seen the videos of him practicing.  If the fanbase is getting excited over practice videos, there must be a reason for it.  Noel can become another face of the franchise, along with Micheal Carter-Williams.  Nerlens, while at Kentucky, played each possession with so much passion and intensity.  If he can bring that type of play to Philadelphia, he will become a fan favorite within the first week of his first taste of the NBA.

6. Thaddeus Young

Well, this may change come draft night.  Although there are plenty of rumors swirling about Thad getting traded, he has undoubtedly been a big part of the 76ers for many years.  Even during a 19-63 season, Thad showed leadership and hustle out on the court.  Even if he is traded, he has been one of my favorite sixers for the past couple of seasons.  He leaves everything on the court and always gives us 110%.  Thaddeus Young has surely been a great professional during this tough, rebuilding season.  Thank you, Thad, for everything you do.

7. Cap Space

Sam Hinkie has put his team in prime position when it comes to the money aspect of the game.  He has freed up plenty of money in order to keep his options open for future potential moves.  We could use that money to lock up our own players.  We could also use that money to sign 2-3 superstars.  No matter what he does with the cap space, Sam Hinkie did a great job positioning his team for future transactions.

8. The Fans

Although the season has been rough, the fans have been by the team’s side throughout the year.  The fans here in Philadelphia know about the team’s plans, and they understand that it will take time.  The Philadelphia fans are the best in the league by far.  When we finally get a team that contends for a championship, the whole city will be buzzing with excitement.  That will truly be a sight to see.

9. The Draft Picks

As you know, the sixers have the odds to grab the 2nd and 10th pick in this year’s loaded NBA draft.  They have a chance to draft 2 potential players that will help the team move forward into the future.  Next year, the team will have their core group of young guys with MCW, Noel, and the 2 picks in the 2014 NBA draft.  That will be pretty damn exciting, if you ask me.

10. Hope (Together We Build)

Of course this season has been rough, but this team offers so much promise and hope.  We are in a great spot, even though 19-63 might make that sound stupid.  But, think about it.  The team has a plan to become contenders for many years to come.  It may work, but it also may not.  All we can do is hope that the team’s plan will turn our team into a great one.  Going into next year with a bunch of young talent gives us so much hope.  If Brett can develop the young guys like he did in San Antonio, we will be a force in the Eastern Conference.

Carlos Boozer in 76ers’ Future?

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According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Chicago Bulls will look to trade Carlos Boozer this off season. Chicago Bulls’ chairman, Jerry Reinsdorf, is strongly considering moving Boozer and his hefty contract mainly due to the NBA’s luxury tax. Another reason why Chicago may look to move Carlos Boozer this off season is because of Carmelo Anthony. The soon to be free agent has been tied to Chicago for quite some time now. It was even reported that Joakim Noah has contacted Melo about potentially joining the Bulls.

In order for the team to muster up the money to pay Carmelo Anthony, they will have to shed a bit of money off the current payroll. So if you are the Bulls, would you try to throw Boozer’s $16.8 million onto another team in order to make a serious run at Carmelo Anthony? Of course you would.

Chicago, have you heard from the 76ers lately? The 76ers have plenty of cap room to absorb Boozer’s contract. How much would it take for a deal to get done? Would the 76ers be willing to absorb the final year of Boozer’s hefty contract? Well, yes, if the Bulls add a bit of sweetener to the deal. The Bulls currently hold 2 draft picks in this year’s NBA draft. If the Bulls are serious about shedding Boozer’s contract from their team’s payroll in order to make a run for Carmelo Anthony, they might have to add one of those picks into the deal. The 76ers would be taking on a big contract, but they would be getting a mid-round pick in this year’s upcoming NBA draft. Thaddeus Young would not be a part of this deal mainly because Chicago will be looking to shed as much salary as they can.

In an off season full of questions for the 76ers, one thing is for sure: Sam Hinkie has put himself and his team in a great spot for the future.

It should be a fun off season.

Parker or Wiggins? Some Numbers for Your Thoughts

JUST A FEW NUMBERS..

With the 2013-2014 NBA season now in the rear view mirror, the Philadelphia 76ers are in the beginning stages of their busy off season. The team, fuelled with two potential top ten picks and five second round picks, will have a young arsenal of players to team up with Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. If the 76ers catch a break at the May 20th NBA Draft Lottery, they will be in prime position to make the top selection in the June 26th draft. If the 76ers are the first team on the clock, who will the team select? Parker or Wiggins? Well, I’m here to give you a couple of numbers to help YOU decide.

Both Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins had successful seasons with their respective teams. Andrew Wiggins, the Kansas Jayhawk, averaged 17 PPG in his first and last season with the team. Meanwhile, Duke’s Jabari Parker averaged 19.1 PPG. Parker is the better scorer between the two of them, but if you dig a little deeper into the numbers, you will see that Jabari Parker had more opportunities to put the ball into the basket. Parker, although playing 2.1 minutes less per game than Wiggins, shot the ball 77 more times over the duration of the year. Parker also had 56 more offensive possessions than Wiggins. To put that number into perspective, college basketball games have an average of 68 possessions per game. Jabari Parker had almost a whole game more of offensive possessions than Wiggins. Their shooting percentages on the year are quite close, but Jabari wins that battle by shooting 47.3% compared to Andrew Wiggins’ 44.8%. Although Parker shot better from the floor, Andrew Wiggins had the better true shooting percentage (56.3% to 55.7%).

Overall, Parker had the better rebounding numbers (8.7 RPG to 5.8 RPG), but this was to be expected for a few reasons. While at Duke, Parker spent a lot of time at the center and power forward position. This gave him more opportunities to secure rebounds. Parker also didn’t have Joel Embiid in the middle devouring rebounds.

One thing that Wiggins excels at that Parker doesn’t, is defense. Wiggins’ athleticism plays a huge role in his defense, while Parker isn’t as athletic, and ultimately struggles on that side of the ball. Wiggins finished the season with more steals but less blocks than Jabari. Once again, this is due to more time in the paint for Parker.

So, if given the chance, who will the 76ers select between the two? Well, according to the people over at ESPN, the 76ers have their eyes set on Andrew Wiggins. ESPN believes that Wiggins will be “the perfect complement to Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, and Thaddeus Young.” There is no doubt that with adding Wiggins to the mix, it would make for a crazily athletic team going into the 2014-2015 NBA season. Both Parker and Wiggins have the chance to become very special NBA players, and with a little bit of luck, the 76ers will have one of them donning their jersey next season.

Josh Harris Sees Success in Grueling Season

This past season was quite the struggle for our sixers, finishing out the year with a 19-63 record.  This forgettable season included many players on 10-day contracts, and a 26 game losing streak.  Could this season really be considered a success?  Well, according to 76ers managing owner Josh Harris, this past season could be considered a huge success.

So, Josh Harris, you believe 19 wins in an 82 game schedule can be considered a success?  Sixers fans everywhere are quite upset at Josh Harris.  They have a right to be upset, but in all honesty, I agree with Josh Harris.  This season was a success for many reasons.

Firstly, this season was all about starting the rebuilding process.  Many sixers fans realized that the team was going through a rebuilding year after trading away our best player in Jrue Holiday during the 2013 NBA draft.  The goal this season wasn’t winning, it was about rebuilding.  With every loss, we bettered our chances in attaining a high pick.  As the season came to a close, we solidified the 2nd worst record in the league.  Although the top pick isn’t promised to us, it sets us up nicely for the draft in June.  With the second best odds to attain the #1 pick in a loaded 2014 draft, we set ourselves up to get a player who can become a difference maker for us down the road.  Next year we will potentially go into the season with 4 top picks in the past 2 NBA drafts.  Now that sounds like success to me.

Not only was this season about starting the rebuilding process, it was also about playing and developing our young talent.  Michael Carter-Williams has developed into one of the favorites for the Rookie of the Year award.  Nerlens Noel, although not seeing any playing time this season due to an ACL injury, has developed his game with behind the curtain practices.  Hollis Thompson, an undrafted rookie going into this season, has developed into one of the top rookie 3-point shooters in the league.  Henry Sims, the once unknown piece of the Spencer Hawes trade, has developed himself into a solid center for the team.  The young guys really have taken a step forward in their development this season, and to me, that is another reason to call this season a success.

Success isn’t always measured with wins.  This season’s success was measured in development. This team’s goal was to rebuild, and with 2 top ten picks, the rebuilding process has the chance to be a quick one.  Josh Harris may have used the wrong words when defining the 2013-2014 Philadelphia 76ers, but he is looking big picture.  He sees championships in our future.  If this season was the first step in getting a championship basketball team back in Philadelphia, wouldn’t you consider it a success as well?

 

The Off Season: Our Playoffs

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The worst times are surely behind us, 76ers fans. After going through the motions of a 19 win season, the 76ers find themselves watching this year’s playoffs from the comforts of their own houses.

But, in all honesty, our own version of the playoffs are just in the beginning stages. The off season for our 76ers has begun, and with management quite determined to turning our team around, this off season is highly important for our future success.

The first round is strictly based on the May 20th NBA Draft Lottery. This round will be an easy win for us because we are guaranteed a top 5 pick. But, this doesn’t mean that it won’t be stressful. This round of our off season playoffs will feel like the final minutes of a crucial game 7. Although we had the 2nd worst record, we aren’t guaranteed the 2nd pick. In fact, the team with the second worst record in the league last year, the Charlotte Bobcats, ended up with the 4th pick. Lets go for that first round sweep by earning the 1st pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. I mean, we do have a 19.9% chance of landing it.

START PRAYING TO THE DRAFT GODS.

The second round of our off season playoffs will occur in the scouting of the many college athletes who are entering the draft. With two potential top 10 picks, it is vital for us to get the right players. The scouting doesn’t end after the first round of the draft though. Hinkie will be very busy in the 2nd round of the draft due to the bundle of picks that he’s acquired through deadline trades. Hinkie will do his best in trying to find diamonds in the rough to help us try and turn the team around. He did find Chandler Parsons, right? There is hope!

Our conference finals will occur on June 26th. Draft night will be one of the most important parts of this off season. It will be important for the team to pick the right players. I’m looking forward to see who will become 76ers on draft night. Do you think Hinkie will pull another draft night blockbuster like last year? Only time will tell.

You’d think the NBA draft would be the final part of our off season playoffs, right? Well, not quite. Our finals will consist of the rest of the off season AFTER the draft. The most important part of the off season is to progress our young players. The quicker they gain chemistry with one another, the easier the game will become for them. Player development will be one of the most crucial parts of this off season. Players will have to work hard over the off season and learn to play with one another during the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues.

This is a great time to be a 76ers fan. The future is bright, my friends. If all goes well, we will be the champions of our off season playoffs. With hard work and dedication, our 76ers will surely be improved going into the 2014-2015 NBA season.