Sixers should improve slightly next season

Posted: July 21, 2015

A LITTLE bit of down time will come now for some in the 76ers' organization, as many players take a break after summer-league preparation and games, and coaches refresh their batteries with vacations. There will be workout sessions and pickup games at PCOM with various players, but for the most part there is some calm before the storm that is training camp.

Of course, there is the impending surgery on Joel Embiid's right foot, which should be any day. Sources have confirmed to the Daily News that the navicular bone in his right foot was rebroken.

There is the continued rehabilitation of Tony Wroten's surgically repaired partially torn right ACL, an injury similar to one he suffered playing high school football in 2009. Perhaps the search for a starting point guard will go outside the group that is currently assembled, and maybe other additions could come as well. And rookie Jahlil Okafor will no doubt be in town, looking to improve upon a good summer-league showing.

But the big question among fans is this: Is this another season of losing in the hopes of landing yet another high draft pick, perhaps the first overall?

The answer is probably so, but maybe not as badly as the past two seasons, which yielded 19 and 18 wins. While there are still many holes to fill, and Embiid will be sidelined for another season, there have been improvements made to the roster, and that alone is why the win total should grow.

It can't be overstated that the reason for so many losses was because of the roster, not a lack of effort or an agenda to lose. When you watch the team play, no matter what kind of vagabond is running the point or coming off the bench for major minutes, the effort is all out and usually better than the opponents'. It's just that the talent level has been so uneven that Brett Brown's squad was at a huge disadvantage before stepping on the floor.

The disparity in talent may have gotten a little closer, with the addition of Okafor and Nik Stauskas, plus veterans Jason Thompson and Carl Landry.

Here's a trivia question for you: Name the Sixers' starting shooting guard for the first two games of last season?

Yes, Michael-Carter Williams missed the first seven games as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, so that kind of skewed the guard rotation a little bit in the early going. Still, having Chris Johnson at the two while Wroten manned the point in the early going certainly wasn't ideal. Hollis Thompson eventually became the starting shooting guard for a time.

Early last season, when the team lost its first 17 games, the majority of time was divided among usual starters Wroten, Carter-Williams, Hollis Thompson, Nerlens Noel and Luc Mbah a Moute, with the likes of Alexey Shved, Brandon Davies, Malcolm Thomas, K.J. McDaniels and, eventually, Robert Covington filling roles off the bench.

Though the point guard spot is still a gaping hole, it looks to be far better than what Brown had to work with last season.

Opening night could have a starting roster of Isaiah Canaan, Stauskas, Jerami Grant, Noel and Okafor. That would leave (when healthy) Wroten and Hollis Thompson coming off the bench at the guard rotation, Covington's shooting skills filling multiple spots, with JaKarr Sampson, Jason Thompson and Landry to share some big-man minutes.

That certainly doesn't bring visions of playoffs or a 40-win season, but it does give some semblance of balance and stability, something that Brown hasn't had in either of his years at the helm.

It will be another year where the word "development" is used endlessly by Brown, especially when it comes to Okafor and Stauskas. It will be another year of anxious updates on the progress of Embiid. It will be a year in which Sixers fans will be scouring the college and overseas ranks to see if there is a point guard of the future for this team.

It might not be, however, another year of consecutive losses that reach league-tying levels and 40- and 50-point romps. The roster simply says so. Put the over/under for wins at 25.

Wilbekin signs

The Sixers signed point guard Scottie Wilbekin to a four-year, non-guaranteed contract over the weekend. Wilbekin, who played on the Sixers' summer- league team in Las Vegas, is out of the University of Florida and played in Australia last year.


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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