Over the next month, Blazer's Edge will be rolling out season previews for all 30 NBA teams. Continuing this feature, we discuss the Philadelphia 76ers with Liberty Ballers associate editor Roy Burton.
Philadelphia 76ers 2014-15 Season Preview
2013-14 Record: 19-63, No. 5 in Atlantic Division, No. 14 in Eastern Conference
Roster additions: Keith Bogans, Joel Embiid (rookie, No. 3), Jerami Grant (rookie, No. 39), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, K.J. McDaniels (rookie, No. 32), Alexey Shved
Roster subtractions: Lavoy Allen, James Anderson, Lorenzo Brown, Byron Mullens, Thaddeus Young
SB Nation affiliate: Liberty Ballers
Blazer's Edge: It's no secret that Sixers GM Sam Hinkie didn't construct Philadelphia's roster for short-term success in the win/loss column. Do you expect the team to surpass or fall short of its win total (19 games) from last year? How would you define a successful 2014-15 year for the 76ers?
Roy Burton: Success this season won't - or, at least shouldn't - be defined by wins and losses. To be frank, they'll probably lose more games than they did last season. But I think both Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown would agree that the 2014-15 campaign should be focused almost entirely on the development of the team's young players. Did Michael Carter-Williams improve his jumper in the offseason? Can Nerlens Noel play in the high post? Will Tony Wroten cut down on the mental errors? Should Alexey Shved be part of the team's plans going forward? Getting definitive answers to those questions is far more important than any improvement in the team's position in the standings.
BE: Looking up and down the roster, I can see four guys -- Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and (possibly) Tony Wroten -- who are in the Sixers' long-term plans. Am I missing anyone? Do any other players on this roster have a shot at sticking around? On a team with seven players paid under $1 million, are there any diamonds in the rough that you think could develop into legitimate players in the league?
RB: I think Hollis Thompson has a chance to be here for a while. To call him an starting-caliber wing at this point may be a stretch, but he's a more-than-capable shooter who is talented enough to be the 8th or 9th man on a decent team. And count me among those who are bullish on former Clemson SF K.J. McDaniels. His tenacity on the defensive end all but assures that he'll get his fair share of minutes this season, and I think there's a pretty decent chance that he starts on Opening Night.
BE: Do you expect Embiid to be held out the entire season? His injury leaves plenty of playing time for Nerlens Noel ... what impact do you think a healthy Noel will have on both sides of the ball?
RB: I wouldn't completely rule Embiid out for the entire season, but I also don't expect to see him until the All-Star break at the earliest. The official word is that his recovery is progressing nicely, but this is the same team that gave us glowing reports about Noel's health last September, and he ultimately never suited up for a game.
However, good things come to those who wait, and in Noel, not only do the Sixers have a legit rim protector, but they actually have someone whom they can run plays for in the post. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but the threat of him converting from eight feet and in should make life easier for the 76ers' perimeter players.
BE: Pierre Jackson took the D-League by storm last season, averaging almost 30 points and 6.2 assists per game for the Idaho Stampede. How much of that success, if any, will translate to the NBA?
RB: Sadly, I don't think we'll be seeing much of Pierre Jackson this season. He ruptured his Achilles during the Orlando Pro Summer League this past July, and that's usually a 12-month injury. It's a shame, too: He very well could have been the Sixers' best offensive threat off of the bench.
The fact that the Sixers signed Jackson to a deal (when they had no obligation to do so) bodes well for his future: I fully expect to see him in some capacity next year.
BE: How do you expect coach Brett Brown to handle his rotation? Last year, it looks like he played about 10 guys consistent minutes most nights. Will that be the case again this year?
RB: Yes - I don't see much difference in how the Sixers will work their rotation this season. One of Brett Brown's primary goals is to find guys who fit into the team's long-term plans, and the best way to do that is to expose all 15 players on the roster to a variety of different situations, and see how everything shakes out.
BE: What do you suspect Hinkie's long-term goals are with the Sixers' roster, and how much faith do you have in him? Portland has a bit of a history drafting "injury-prone" centers ... Do you have reservations about the health of Noel and Embiid going forward?
RB: I think the plan is to have a playoff-caliber team three years from now, and in expectation of that, I'll have faith in Sam Hinkie until the time comes where his actions convince me otherwise. And I'm not overly concerned about the health of Noel and Embiid: The risk that either of the two young bigs is plagued by injuries for their respective careers is far outweighed by their collective potential.
Special thanks to Liberty Ballers associate editor Roy Burton for taking the time discuss the Philadelphia 76ers' upcoming season with Blazer's Edge. He can be found on twitter @TheBSLine. Liberty Ballers has you covered for 76ers news and analysis.
-- Chris Lucia | email@example.com | Twitter