Some Sixers questions to ponder

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Carter-Williams is off to a spectacular start, but needs to get stronger physically.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Carter-Williams is off to a spectacular start, but needs to get stronger physically.
Posted: December 06, 2013

THE NBA SEASON is just about a quarter gone and the information it has provided about the 76ers is still very much a mystery.

Nerlens Noel still hasn't hit the floor - and probably won't until next season - and though he has been impressive so far, the future of Michael Carter-Williams is still unknown. The three vets on the team - Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes - could all be gone before next season. The NBA careers of Tony Wroten, James Anderson, Hollis Thompson and much of the rest of the roster are very much uncertain.

While most of the questions surrounding the team can't possibly be answered yet, we decided to put together some of our own questions for all to ponder.

* What if Carter-Williams keeps playing the way he has been for the foreseeable future? Will that land him a berth on the Eastern Conference All-Star team?

It very well could, and he would be the second point guard in 2 years representing the Sixers. MCW is becoming part of the big talk around the league. He opened eyes nationally with his debut against the Miami Heat - 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds - and hasn't slowed down since. The 11th overall pick posted the first triple-double of his career against the Orlando Magic and second overall pick Victor Oladipo. He is currently leading the league in steals at 3.13 per game and already has garnered trust from his teammates as a leader of the young team.

He has shown an unbelievable nose for the ball, a tremendous ability to get to the basket and challenge bigger and stronger players, and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Many are wondering if trading Jrue Holiday in the offseason after his first All-Star appearance was the right move. MCW's play early in the season is certainly making it seem that way.

The only problem that may plague him this season and beyond is his ability to stay healthy. At about 185 pounds and not much muscle mass, he is painfully thin and takes a beating many nights trying to fight through picks at the defensive end. He is battling a knee problem that had him severely limping after Tuesday's win over the Magic and could cost him a few games. He already missed four games this season with a foot problem.

* What if Spencer Hawes continues to put up the numbers he has so far? Would the Sixers consider offering him a contract at the end of the season?

Hawes is playing the most consistent and best basketball of his career, averaging 16.2 points, 9.9 rebounds while shooting 51 percent from the floor - all career highs. He is certainly playing himself into a nice contract, whether it be here or somewhere else. He makes $6 million this season and almost certainly will add another couple of million to that base if his numbers continue at the same rate.

Hawes would be a very nice piece for a good team, able to play both the center and strong-forward positions. He is exactly the type of big man the NBA is becoming more and more littered with, someone who can handle the basketball and shoot from the outside.

I didn't think with Noel coming here that Hawes would be a good fit. But the thought of Hawes paired with Noel now intrigues me. Noel has an offensive game best suited to being around the basket, while Hawes is valuable playing away from the hoop offensively. Defensively, Hawes could match up against opposing centers (he isn't quick enough to play against power forwards) and Noel could slide over to the other big. That may give him the freedom to roam a bit and use his tremendous athletic ability to block shots from the weak side.

* What if the Sixers continue to win about a third of their games?

That probably wouldn't give them a very good chance of landing one of the top three picks in the draft. In a normal season, 25 wins probably would be a pretty good number to land a high draft pick. In the past 10 full seasons (excluding the lockout-shortened 2011-12), the teams that got the No. 1 pick averaged 24.8 wins. But this is the year of the awful Eastern Conference; heading into last night, Boston was leading the Atlantic Division with an 8-12 record and only two Eastern teams (Miami and Indiana) were north of .500.

* What if the Sixers never decided to go after Andrew Bynum?

How would a roster that included Holiday, Young, Turner, Hawes, Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic and Lou Williams look now?

That team made it within one game of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals, losing a tough Game 7 in Boston in 2012. The next day, ownership and coach Doug Collins said the team as it was constructed had reached its peak and that changes were coming. Most of those changes involved the dealings that had to be done in order to complete the four-team trade that landed Bynum. While I still agree with going after Bynum at the time (not knowing, of course, the outcome), how good might this team be in the current Eastern Conference?

Sixers at Charlotte Bobcats

When: Tonight, 7 o’clock

Where: Time Warner Cable Arena

TV/Radio: CSN/The Fanatic (97.5-FM)

Game stuff: Rookie Michael Carter-Williams could be sidelined by a knee issue ... Charlotte’s Gerald Henderson, out of Episcopal Academy, is averaging 14.6 points a game. The Bobcats’ leading scorer is point guard Kemba Walker (16.6 ppg), followed by Al Jefferson (16.1).

Denver Nuggets at Sixers

When: Tomorrow, 7 o’clock

Where: Wells Fargo Center

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/The Fanatic (97.5-FM)

Game stuff: The Nuggets are making their only visit to Philly. They had a seven-game winning streak snapped in Cleveland on Wednesday. They are not very big in the frontcourt, but the Sixers will have to contain rebounding machine Kenneth Faried. Ty Lawson is having a very good season from his point guard spot.

Los Angeles Clippers at Sixers

When: Monday, 7 o’clock

Where: Wells Fargo Center

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/The Fanatic (97.5-FM)

Game stuff: The rim rattlers will be right in the middle of a seven-game road trip when they get here. With J.J. Redick out due to a broken hand, former Sixer Willie Green is the starting shooting guard. Former Villanova star and Philly product Maalik Wayns is on the Clippers’ roster.

Sixers at Minnesota Timberwolves

When: Wednesday, 8 o’clock

Where: Target Center, Minneapolis

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/The Fanatic (97.5-FM)

Game stuff: The T-Wolves are one of the NBA’s best rebounding teams, with Kevin Love (13.6 per game) and rugged Nikola Pekovic (8.7), but also possess exciting guard play spearheaded by playmaker Ricky Rubio. Love has added three-point shooting into his arsenal and he is second on the team with 40 makes. Love (23.7) and Kevin Martin (23.2) are among the highest-scoring duos in the league.

29.7: That’s how many points opponents are averaging in the first quarter against the Sixers.

.675: That’s the shooting percentage in the first quarter the past two games by the Sixers’ opponents. Orlando shot 11-for-16 on Tuesday, Detroit went 16-for-24 on Sunday.


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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