Updated: Oct. 27, 2006, 12:01 PM ET

SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
AI, C-Webb fight the twilight

Sixers

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | Hollinger Stats

Where will the Philadelphia 76ers finish in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference? Get 10 different takes from ESPN's NBA experts.

ANALYST COMMENT
Greg
Anthony

ESPN.com
Is Andre Iguodala ready to be a star? He, as much as anybody in the league, carries the weight of a franchise. Hard to say that about a team with Allen Iverson. But we saw that even with AI at his best last year, the 76ers still failed to make the playoffs. So, Iguodala, ball's in your court.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 8
Chris
Broussard

ESPN Mag
Sixers are in for long season. A.I. will continue to put up big numbers, but it won't be enough to save this sinking ship.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 13
Ric
Bucher

ESPN Mag
Allen Iverson knows he's on the trading block. If he wasn't willing to channel his game to get the most out of Kyle Korver and Andre Iguodala before, what motivation does he have now? Answer, for The Answer: None.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Chad
Ford

ESPN.com
They won't be awful, but standing pat with this aging team was curious at best, irresponsible at worst. They need big improvements from Samuel Dalembert and Iguodala to compete for a playoff spot.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 13
John
Hollinger

ESPN.com
Last year the Sixers got a career year from Iverson and kept him and Chris Webber healthy all year, and they still were terrible. So what happens this year if one or more of those things don't happen? This could get ugly.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 14
Scoop
Jackson

ESPN.com
AI do or die, the final chapter. After having possibly the two best back-to-back seasons of his career, this might be the year that exercises the "'til death" part of the vows. But like India.Aire says, "There's hope."
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 9
Tim
Legler

ESPN.com
Take a sub-.500 team that doesn't play defense. Age by one year. Add absolutely nothing of note in the offseason. What do you get? Another year out of the playoffs for Allen Iverson and Chris Webber.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Jim
O'Brien

ESPN.com
They can talk D, but with Webber getting major minutes, it isn't going to happen. Dalembert must come up huge for this group to make noise. A murderous schedule (25 of the first 39 on the road) will challenge them right away.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 11
Chris
Sheridan

ESPN.com
If this team wasn't for sale, Iverson would be elsewhere. They'll be booing him in Philly by mid-February, but he won't be going anywhere until ownership changes hands and GM Billy King learns whether he's getting fired.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 14
Marc
Stein
ESPN.com
With no changes to a team that ended last season in such disarray, expect to hear much more about the potential sale of the team and Iverson's uncertain future in town than you will about Philly's playoff chances.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 13
 
Average ranks

DIVISION: 4.1 | Standings
CONFERENCE: 11.9 | Standings


Bring On Practice
Iverson
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Allen Iverson, don't be surprised, we're not talking practice. We're talking games -- you can't play much better than you did last year, but your team couldn't have looked much worse. Yes, practice is looking happier than games now. Practice. That's right, practice.


Lineup Breakdown

STARTERS ANALYSIS
Allen Iverson
Point Guard
6-0 | 165
Mo Cheeks may have no plan, but A.I. does: 30 a night, or else.
Willie Green
Shooting Guard
6-4 | 200
ACL tear cost him a contract. Maybe anger will make him better.
Andre Iguodala
Small Forward
6-6 | 207
Philly's 11-2 when he scores 20. So why doesn't he get more looks?
Chris Webber
Power Forward
6-10 | 245
Good news: still a 20/10 guy. Better: kills cap for only one more year.
Samuel Dalembert
Center
6-11 | 250
Enigmatic scorer is at least an energetic swatter (2.4 bpg).
Bench: Rodney Carney can get to the rim, and Kyle Korver is still deadeye. But the only stopper is -- no surprise to Sixers fans -- rook Bobby Jones.

ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands October 25.



Hollinger's Player Spotlight
Steven Hunter
Player efficiency rating
projection: 14.26
vs. NBA avg.: -0.74
76ers profiles

Scouting report: An athletic 7-footer who is skilled at finishing short shots around the rim, Hunter shoots 56.2 percent for his career. He doesn't have a post game and is only mediocre as a jump shooter, but he's so good around the basket that he's still an offensive weapon. The best strategy is to foul him since he's so poor from the line. He's at his best in transition, where he can beat other centers down the floor and get chances to finish easy dunks.

Hunter is an effective shot-blocker, but he lacks strength and can be overpowered by big centers. Moreover, he's notorious for concentration lapses. He seemed to have fewer of these after the non-trade to the Hornets, perhaps because his near-ouster helped focus his attention. For the year the Sixers defended better with Hunter on the court than off it, but then again they hardly could have defended worse.

2006-07 outlook: Hunter finds himself battling Samuel Dalembert for the starting center spot, and the two might once again trade the job during the season depending on which player's lapses are less egregious.

He might not shoot over 60 percent again, but he'll be among the league leaders in field-goal percentage if he gets enough attempts. That alone makes him a good backup center, but he won't be a quality starter unless he steps it up on the glass and improves his focus defensively.


A Prayer For Philly
Webber
Doug Benc/Getty Images
No longer very mobile. Turning 34 in March. Huge contract on pretty much a non-contending team. Chris Webber has a lot to think about.


SportsNation Speaks
The Sixers have The Answer. But SportsNation has more answers when it comes to helping Philly rise.

Which of these players is most important to the Sixers this season?
48.4% Andre Iguodala
26.9% Samuel Dalembert
21.2% Chris Webber
3.5% Kyle Korver

Vote: Sixers in 2006-07



Ask A Blogger
Sixers

What would it take for you to get a tattoo of the Sixers' logo on your chest?

Allen Iverson and Chris Webber dominated the ball last year. If Maurice Cheeks actually coaches this year and plays Andre Iguodala some at point guard, it will give him the fuel he needs to be a big-time contributor.

With added confidence from the coaches, Samuel Dalembert should average a double-double. Rodney Carney needs to emerge as a Rookie of the Year candidate.

With more team balance, I would be more inclined to get some ink on my chest (after properly bulking up and getting a tan).

If Kyle Korver grew a Pau Gasol-like beard, that would seal the deal.

Jon Burkett | Passion & Pride



Coach's Corner

MAURICE CHEEKS COACHING FILE
Experience: 5 years
Record: 200-182
Playoffs: 3-7
NBA titles: 0
Coach's profile

Allen Iverson had one of his best seasons, yet the Sixers won only 38 games. And the Sixers finished tied for seventh in points scored but 18th in assists in '05-06.

That means Maurice Cheeks must devise and enforce a more fluid offense that enables players to score off of the attention given to Iverson rather than just watch him work.

And yet, Iverson still needs to put up big numbers to get his team Ws, and that balancing act will be tough on Cheeks.

David Thorpe, ESPN.com NBA analyst



Hollinger's Team Strength
Transition offense. Philadelphia's best chance at winning games is to turn every game into a track meet.

The trio of Iverson, Iguodala and Carney could beat any threesome in the league in a foot race, and the latter two players are two of the highest-flying leapers in basketball.

Hunter and Dalembert both run the court extremely well and their lack of physicality is less problematic in an open-court game.

And Iverson, obviously, is an incredible open-court player thanks to his blazing speed and finishing skills.

Even the two plodders, Webber and Korver, can add to the fun. Korver is great at trailing the break and pulling up for 3, while Webber's ballhandling skill allows him to take rebounds and immediately dribble up court.

Philadelphia had the league's sixth-fastest pace factor a season ago, but coach Mo Cheeks might want to push it even harder this season. This is admittedly tough to do on a team with no bench, but the Sixers might not have any other choice.

More Hollinger Sixers analysis Insider



Fantasy Fix
Howard
Dalembert

Sleeper: Samuel Dalembert has put up very similar numbers over the last three seasons, but he appears to finally be getting the message about how much the team needs consistency from him.

He could average a double-double this season and will continue to be a shot-blocking force. Take the gamble that he remains relatively healthy and reap the rewards.

Bust: What you see is what you get with Kyle Korver. He knocks down a ton of threes, but provides little else. The addition of rookie Rodney Carney, who provides a major upgrade in athleticism and at the defensive end, should decrease Korver's opportunities as the season goes along.

Keith Lipscomb | Fantasy Hoops Index

 

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