The 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers won a game this past week. Rejoice. Granted, it may have come against a European team in the form of Bilbao Basket, but it’s probably going to be one of a few wins this entire season, so treasure it.
Sixers vs. Bilbao Basket
The 106-104 victory was as the scoreline suggests: a very close affair. Both sides showed some real heart and effort on the court, albeit with a distinct lack of quality. Michael Carter-Williams failed to significantly impress when scoring the basketball, going 1-for-5 from the field. Brett Brown ran an interesting three-guard set with Tony Wroten, Darius Morris and MCW, with Morris bringing the ball up the floor. Having Wroten and Carter-Williams trying to work off-ball looked quite painful and it will not work in the NBA. For that reason, I hope we see more of it in 2013-14. Carter-Williams also gave up a lot of weight to the small forward he was defending. If that’s going to actually be a thing, maybe he’ll have to add some more girth to his frame.
On a more serious note, there were some positives to take from the game in Spain. Firstly, the team actually attacked the basket and drew fouls. In fact, the Sixers took 46 free throws. Not bad for a team that averaged just 16.8 free throws per game last season, good for second-worst in the NBA. It’s a big step in the right direction; the Doug Collins era of mid-range jumpers is over!
Evan Turner looked like a man that either wants to make a mark or is looking for a trade to a playoff team. Turner finished with 25 points, from 7-of-15 shooting from the floor and 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. The five turnovers are a worry, but signs of improvement are finally there. Could this finally be the year he pieces it all together?
Sixers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Sixers followed up the trip to Spain with one to the best nation in the world: The United Kingdom, of course. Manchester, to be exact, to face off against the 2012 Western Conference Champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Despite a strong effort, the Sixers came up just a little short –losing 103-99 to the Thunder.
Michael Carter-Williams, Mr. No Jumpshot, knocked down 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point line. He also dished out four assists in what was a fairly solid game for the former Syracuse guard. However, the real star of the show was Tony Wroten. Wroten scored an electrifying 20 points in just 21 minutes and looked terrific doing so. On both ends of the floor, too. Defensively he looked like a poor man’s Chris Paul, constantly hustling the offensive player, looking for that turnover. While on offense he used his quickness to get to the hole and even provided a nice outside threat, making four 3s.
A true spark plug, if Wroten can put it all together, a comparison with Eric Bledsoe doesn’t look so outrageous. Carter-Williams certainly doesn’t have it all his own way in terms of the starting berth.
Who said Philly rap was dead? The new young Sixers have formed their own rap group, or something.
- The Sixers got to the line 48 times against Bilbao and 31 times against the Thunder. Yes, it’s preseason, but that’s still a great sign. Evan Turner, in particular, looks a lot stronger when driving to the hole–something which he’s struggled with mightily since he’s been in the league.
- Every Sixer that played a minute against OKC scored at least a point. It might sound a little meaningless, but it shows that it’s definitely going to be a collective effort this season.
- Khalif Wyatt’s spot on the team is still not nailed down. He only played just less than 14 minutes in the two preseason games. It would be a big shame if he missed out; Wyatt’s knack for scoring and his all-around play should be enough for him to at least make the team. Come on Hinkie.
Overall, it was a fairly positive start to the Brett Brown era. Wroten is the player that really stood out for me this week and it looks as if this team could still be pretty fun to watch, even if they are likely to win single-digit games this season. The new up-tempo offense and frantic defense could just be the foundations for something special in a few years.
Lets see how long the optimism lasts.
Quote of the week: “The positive sign is that we have young guys that want to be coached… When you’re with them in battle, and you’re looking at them, you feel like it’s a group that can stay together through some hard patches and continue to improve.” – Brett Brown
Player of the Week: Tony Wroten
Worst Player of the Week: Spencer Hawes, obviously.