The summer of 2016 brought several new faces into the Sixers organization. Through the draft and free agency (No trade yet) the Sixers acquired several players to help them once again reach contention. What can be expected from the newest group of Sixers ?
Bayless was signed in July to give the Sixers a stable veteran point guard. The 27 year old Arizona product averaged 10.4 points per game last season and also had 3.1 assists with the Milwaukee Bucks last season. Bayless is the frontrunner to be the first-string point guard. He has the playmaking ability and shooting touch to be a more-than-serviceable guard for the Sixers. He’s been a fringe-starter is whole career and has the experience to help develop a young core for this team moving forward.
At first I was shocked at Bayless’s contract of 3 years and $27 million dollars, but it’s a fair price when all things are considered.
The Sixers won less games than some NFL teams so naturally they’d have to overpay for any legitimate free agent.
The increase in the salary cap makes Bayless’s $9 million per year an easily affordable and tradable contract.
Jerryd Bayless is the right move for the Sixers at this point in time. No commitment for the long term and he gets to showcase his abilities in hopes of a larger contract in several years.
Prediction– 11 points per game and 4 assists per game.
The 2014 Euro League MVP had a really strong showing in the Rio games this summer. Rodriguez outplayed Minnesota point guard and fellow Spain teammate Ricky Rubio. Rodriguez is a pure passer. His craftiness can get himself anywhere on the floor to find the open man. Sergio will get plenty of minutes running the point and don’t be surprised if he challenges Bayless for the starting spot.
Rodriguez has spent 5 seasons in the NBA, with his last one coming in 2010. His NBA career averages are 4.3 ppg and 2.9 apg. That will need to improve this season. Rodriguez will most likely take some time to readjust to the speed and physicality of the NBA game, especially on the defensive end.
If Rodriguez can shake off his NBA rust, he could be a really fun guard to bring off the bench.
Prediction– 6 points per game, 5 assists per game, and 3 rebounds per game
Another middle of the road veteran signing was local product Gerald Henderson. The former Duke guard signed a deal with the Sixers in early July. Henderson is the heavy favorite to land the starting shooting guard position. He is a seven year vet and is only 28 years old. Henderson, much like Bayless, has been starter/2nd unit material his entire career. GH is solid on both sides of the ball and is an improvement over the wing players of last season. Henderson registered 8.7 ppg last season with the Portland Trail Blazers, but he has posted 15 pgg in seasons past. Henderson signed a two year contract worth $9 million per season. His contract serves the same purpose as Bayless’. It gives him the chance to help the Sixers develop, while giving himself the chance to earn another contract after his two seasons are up.
Gerald Henderson is a team player with playoff experience who will serve a crucial role for the Sixers on and off the floor as a leader.
Prediction- 13 points per game, 4 rebounds per game, 3 assists, and Henderson will be the first string shooting guard.
Luwawu was a fantastic value at the 24th pick in this summer’s draft. He’s raw but he shows signs of being a prototypical NBA wing player. Standing 6’7 with a roughly 7′ wingspan, Luwawu has the physical measurements desired by a two-guard/small forward in today’s NBA. Luwawu has big-time athleticism to pair with his size. The defensive potential with TLC is sky high.
Offensively his best roles are slashing to the basket and spotting up to shoot from distance. Luwawu’s key to finding a rotational role in 2016 will be consistency. He’ll need to string together quality minutes to find playing time over fellow wing players, Nik Stauskas and Hollis Thompson. Brett Brown has already said on the record he expects TLC to spend some time in the D-League.
It may be too soon to expect legitimate contributions from TLC, but look for signs of potential from a player who could be a major contributor in the future.
Prediction- 4 points per game and 2 rebounds per game
Finally Dario is officially coming over to play in Philly. The 6’10 Croatian is coming off a very strong showing in Rio, where he averaged nearly 12 points and 7 rebounds per outing.
Dario will almost certainly come off the bench as the backup power forward and could possibly see some time at small forward. Saric has guard skills in a forward’s body. He is a player that can initiate the offense and space the floor with his outside shooting. Saric has the skill set and style to become a fan favorite very quickly. The key to Saric being able to maintain consistent playing time will be defense. Traditional big-bodied power forwards could give him some problems, when down on the low block. Saric is only listed at 225 lbs and has average athleticism and quickness, which could lead to issues with him guarding smaller, faster small forwards. Dario could see roughly 20 minutes per game if he can hold his own defensively.
Look for “The Homie Dario” to see quality minutes off the bench and to make the occasional start.
Prediction- 7 points per game, 5 rebounds per game, and 4 assists per game
Not too much to say here. The Sixers have been searching for a star in years past and there’s a real chance they landed one with Ben Simmons.
If Jason Kidd and Lamar Odom made a baby that struggles shooting the three and was born in Australia. It would be Simmons.
A point guard trapped in a power forward’s body is one of few clichés used to describe Simmons. Simmons has an elite passing ability with a LeBron-esque physique, 6’10 250 lbs. His rebounding ability, on the defensively end especially, will create lots of easy scoring chances with his speed and passing ability. The NBA’s trend towards small ball makes Simmons a mismatch nightmare. Technically he could play the five-spot and play point guard. The glaring weakness in his game is his jump shot. Defenses will sag off him and give him space until he can prove he can hit jumpers routinely.
Simmons will be given ample amounts of autonomy this season and will get the chance to show he’s the real deal.
Prediction– 13 points per game, 9 rebounds per game, 7 assists per game while earning the starting power forward position. Finishes top three in Rookie of the Year voting.
I have a well documented adoration for Joel Embiid.
Man crush in full effect https://t.co/ZiAshRFZ0V
— AJ Iezzi (@alexjames_610) August 5, 2016
If you haven’t connected the dots yet, I am all in on Joel Embiid. (Yes I already bought his jersey)
It could be argued that more Sixers fans are excited to watch Embiid than Simmons. Embiid will finally play and get to use his otherworldly talent against real NBA competition.
Given the fact that he has not played in a real game since his college days in Kansas, I would not expect him to start on opening night. His health is a non-factor in terms of him readjusting to routinely playing competitive basketball. It will take time for Embiid to his premium basketball form.
But once he does, I expect him to be the starting center and play some hefty minutes. Almost more important than wins this season, is the young talent on the Sixers showing promise, developing, and playing well enough to attract free agents.
There is not a rookie class this season with more upside than TLC, Saric, Simmons, and Embiid. Call me biased, but there just isn’t.
7’2 275 lbs. with fluid mobility, defensive prowess, natural athleticism, and about a million ways to put the ball in the basket. What’s not to like ? (His health I get it….)
The NBA will finally get to see Joel Embiid unleash the beast. (I’m praying to the injury gods)
Prediction- 14 points per game, 10 rebounds per game, and 1.5 blocks per game.