SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
|Marc Stein ESPN.com
||Philly won't be anything more than first-round fodder unless AI and C-Webb click big-time, no matter how promising Andre Iguodala looks.|
|Chris Sheridan ESPN Insider
||Chris Webber promises his cameo in Philadelphia last season was merely a mirage, and Andre Iguodala is a stud. Much will depend on whether Samuel Dalembert proves himself worthy of the money Philly gave him.|
|Will Perdue ESPN Insider
||How can a guy so small in stature continue to take the physical abuse that Allen Iverson takes and not miss more games than he does? Will Chris Webber be around at the end of the season? Either on a different team or on the inactive list.|
|Jim O'Brien ESPN Insider
||Iverson and Webber must share the burden of leading the team as Maurice Cheeks becomes the fourth coach in less than two years. Both veterans need the ball, so striking the right balance will get them back in the playoffs.|
|Eric Neel ESPN
|Two sneaking suspicions: Webber's going to surprise and Iguodala's going to break out.|
|Tim Legler ESPN Insider
See Item 7 for Legler's analysis of the Philadelphia 76ers.
|Scoop Jackson ESPN
|The Iverson/Webber project will pay out under Cheeks.|
|John Hollinger ESPN Insider
||They have the Answer, but the rest of the team is nothing but questions. Webber needs to deliver, Iguodala needs to break out and bench needs a pulse.|
|Chad Ford ESPN Insider
||With Mo Cheeks steering the ship, Iverson should be just fine. Chris Webber's health and the development of Samuel Dalembert and Andre Iguodala will determine whether they're a playoff team this season.|
|John Carroll Scouts Inc.
||Which Webber will show up? If he is healthy and can put up big numbers with his scoring and rebounding the Sixers will sneak into the playoffs; if he is not healthy and inconsistent, the Sixers go to the lottery.|
|Ric Bucher ESPN Mag
||They're a playoff team, but what they are beyond that hinges entirely on C-Webb's knee. One other question: they rebelled against Jim O'Brien's disciplined approach, but can or will they maintain focus under Mo Cheeks' softer touch?|
|Chris Broussard ESPN Insider
||Could be special if A.I. doesn't dominate the ball.|
|Starters: Waiting on Iguodala and Dalembert, the next generation.|
|Two legs are overrated. He'll get 19 and 9.||
|Must up the O but D is just fine: 1.68 spg ranked eighth.||
|$60 million demands more than 8.2 and 7.5.||
|Sharpshooter might be a better fit bolstering weak second unit.||
|Who lost a step? Scoring champ was top-five in dimes, steals.||
|Bench: Steven Hunter gives size and Lee Nailon offers experience, but neither will help Philly forget that Willie Green is out for the year.||
ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands Oct. 26.
Player Efficiency Rating
vs. NBA Avg: +3.6
Considering that Chris Webber was basically playing on one leg last season, what he accomplished was fairly remarkable. He averaged 22 points per 40 minutes, had one of the best Assist Ratios at his position, and remained effective on the glass despite his balky knee.
He was absolutely worthless on defense, however, and was especially exposed when he came to Philadelphia. Webber was easily beaten down the court by opposing big men and couldn't provide his guards with any help in the screen-and-roll. That was one reason his adjustment to Philly was so rocky. When he came to the Sixers he was asked to step out and trap the pick-and-roll, which was hopeless.
Webber hasn't fully adjusted his offensive game to the new realities of his limp either. He was far too aggressive in looking for his shot, since his game has mostly degenerated into shooting a semi-accurate mid-range jumper from the high post. He also can't finish at the rim anymore, which didn't stop him from trying. What he needs to do instead is take better advantage of his brilliance as a passer, especially now that he has a perfect recipient for his deliveries in Iverson. The Sixers need to adjust their offense to get Webber more involved, but Webber also needs to change his game and realize that he's no longer his team's top scoring threat.
We asked SportsNation what it expected from Chris Webber:
How will Webber fare this season?
51.3% Solid complement to Iverson
26.3% Webber of old: 20 ppg and 10 rpg
11.6% Crippled by knee problems
10.8% Numbers will continue to slide
Legs on 76ers: New coach Mo Cheeks is going to have his work cut out replacing Jim O'Brien after a 43-win campaign and a first-round loss to the Pistons. Having Allen Iverson on the heels of perhaps his greatest individual season certainly helps.
The key, however, rests on the knees of Chris Webber. He must be a lot closer to the All-Star-caliber power forward who played with the Kings for six years.
A lack of a bench will have the 76ers fighting for their playoff lives, but with the Answer on their side, they should get in.
Tim Legler, ESPN Insider
Experience: 4 years
Reg. season record: 162-139
Playoff record: 3-7
Mo Cheeks has a nice combination of veterans and youth. Allen Iverson and Chris Webber must share the burden of leading the young guys in Cheeks' homecoming.
Coach Cheeks will be challenged to find a balance with how the ball is shared ... not an easy task.
Jim O'Brien, ESPN.com Insider
Let's put it this way: The signing of Lee Nailon was a huge upgrade. Yes, it's become that bad.
With the cap-clogging contracts of Webber and Iverson and ownership's insistence on avoiding the luxury tax, it's virtually impossible for Philly to build a decent bench. Free-agent center Steven Hunter was the lone quality addition, but even he could only be acquired by giving away productive big man Marc Jackson to division rival New Jersey.
Now for the punch line: Webber and Iverson have missed an average of 26 and 15 games per season, respectively, over the past five years. That means that somebody from among this motley crew will see extended duty in the starting lineup this season.
Sleeper: Andre Iguodala is about to become a household fantasy name. If all you look at are points, you might miss him. Watch his points, rebounds, steals and shooting get better in his second season. There will be nights he is the No. 2 scorer after Iverson. In round six or seven, get Iggy with it.
Bust: Samuel Dalembert has the talent to make NBA scouts and fantasy owners drool. But other than a few weeks late in 2003-04, has he ever been consistent? Fantasy owners keep drafting Sammy as if he were a productive center, but 8 points and 7 boards isn't good enough. Position scarcity shouldn't make Dalembert a top-50 pick.
Eric Karabell | Fantasy Basketball Index