The Sixers have not begun the 2015-16 season as planned. Still winless, they are among the worst teams in the league. However, these past couple weeks have given the Sixers’ nation a sense of the team. Based on the beginning of the season, here are five bold predictions:
- No blockbuster deals
Over the past few seasons, the Sixers have grew notorious for making blockbuster deals. Last year, they traded away their team’s best player and reigning Rookie of the Year winner Michael Carter-Williams. It was just in 2013 they shipped away their All-Star, Jrue Holiday, to move up in the draft. But this season feels different. There finally seems to be a core to build around with the Noel and Okafor tandem. Throw in a healthy Embiid and multiple first round picks, the Sixers have a strong base. Another large trade could possibly set them back another year in the rebuilding process or it could ruin their solid current setup. The Sixers already have an abundance of draft picks and some talent, so it doesn’t seem likely for Hinkie to make another gigantic deal this season.
- The Sixers do not end the year as the worst team in the NBA
The Sixers finally have a go-to scorer with Jahlil Okafor. They have an emerging defensive superstar next to him in Nerlens Noel. And they have played most of their games without two of last season’s best players, Tony Wroten and Robert Covington. Wroten averaged nearly 17 points in his time last year, attacking and scoring with a purpose. The hope is that he can help Okafor a little on the offensive end and upgrade the guard spot which has been inconsistent for the Sixers so far. Covington, who has battled a knee injury, looks to get back into playing form. When both of these players are ready to give it 100%, the team doesn’t look so terrible. They could be a surprise, with their fiery play and slept on talent. Now, the Sixers aren’t much, but when they are full force, they aren’t the worst team in the NBA.
- Kendall Marshall ends the season as the team’s starting point guard
The journeyman out of the University of North Carolina looks to get his career back on track. His skill set, feel for the game, and high offensive IQ give him the tools to be a strong NBA player. However, Marshall has two gaping holes in his game: he struggles on defense and turns the ball over way too much. With a defensive rating of 112 and and a turnover percentage of 25%, Marshall has a lot of improvements to make in addition to returning from an ACL tear. But he is a playmaker and a guy who can make things happen. With the inconsistency of Isaiah Canaan and an injury to Nik Stauskas, Marshall has the chance to earn some minutes at the guard spot, if he can show what he was able to do at North Carolina and with the Lakers.
- Jahlil Okafor will average more than 20 points
Jahlil Okafor has exceeded expectations. We knew that he would be good, but four double doubles before December and averages of 18 points per game and 8 rebounds have made him great. Even on a team that has yet to win, Okafor has been a bright spot. But the thing is, he could play much better. He is only shooting 46% from the field and 63% from the free throw line. On the other hand, he is often seeing double teams and the opponent’s best defenders, so it is tough for him to always be efficient. However, when Tony Wroten returns and Robert Covington finds his old form, teams will not have the luxury to double team Okafor every possession. This will open up more opportunities for him and he should see his offensive output increase.
- Isaiah Canaan will not finish the season as a Sixer
Isaiah Canaan has had an up and down season. He’s had seven games with less than 10 points, only two starts, and nine games in which he shot 30% or less than from the field. However, on top of that, he’s had some explosive games, including five outings with more than 15 points and three with 5 or more three pointers. Despite some good games, Canaan has taken a step back from last season, thanks to his inconsistency. A playoff team who may want a little scoring punch off the bench could come calling for Canaan. It would not be a surprise to see him leave the team with the returns of Wroten and Marshall, along with the emergence of TJ McConnell.
First photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Second photo: Mitchell Leff-Getty Images