After a strong start to the season, in which they won 18 of the first 25 games, the 76ers struggled to the finish, winning just 13 of their final 36.
Therefore, when playoff time rolled around, not much was expected of the East's no. 8 seed.
But Doug Collins' squad had other ideas and dispatched a Derrick Rose-less Bulls team in five games and then pushed a veteran Celtics squad to seven before bowing out.
Finding Their Focal Point - With the acquisition of arguably the no. 2 centre in the league, Andrew Bynum, the 76ers hope they have found the type of player they can build around. Coming off his first All-Star appearance, the soon-to-be 25-year-old was in the top-10 in the NBA in rebounding and blocks and also averaged nearly 19 points per game. If he is able to overcome the knee injuries that have dogged him in the past and will cause him to miss part of the pre-season, Philadelphia has the chance to challenge the East's top teams.
Hitting It Big
Getting Andrew Bynum in a blockbuster trade this summer gives the 76ers one of the best big men in the game.
Room To Grow - Despite retaining just five players from last year's team, the 76ers remain one of the league's youngest squads. Other than Jason Richardson, none of their starters or key bench contributors are older than 26. The trading of leading scorer Lou Williams should mean more shots for fourth-year point guard Jrue Holiday and former second overall pick Evan Turner, while the addition of Bynum should give fellow seven-footer Spencer Hawes more space down low.
Offensive Makeover - Acquiring Bynum means the Sixers offense will have a completely different look in 2012-13. The team will have to make the transition from an isolation, high pick-and-pop-type offence to one that will predominantly work though the post with Bynum. The ability of Philadelphia's perimeter players to adapt to this new scheme, particularly the young talent like Holiday, Turner and Thaddeus Young will play a big factor in determining the success of their season.
Replacing Iguodala's Defence – Although he was just fourth on the team in scoring, the long-time former Sixers' contributions went well beyond the box score. He was one of the league's premier perimeter defenders and did the little things to win games – at both ends of the floor – that were especially valuable on such a young team. In terms of his replacements, new additions Jason Richardson and Nick Young are there strictly for their offensive games, while Turner is still learning the position. If Philadelphia is unable to contain other teams' perimeter stars the way Iguodala did, the Sixers will struggle against more talented squads.
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Andrew Bynum gets a chance to be the man now.
Andrew Bynum is the second-best centre in the NBA and top ranked 76er at 14th overall.
Absence of their leading scorer – Although Bynum's addition received the majority of the attention, the loss of veteran scoring guard Williams was also a big move and his absence will be tough to overcome. Beyond Holiday, the Sixers have only one other point guard on the roster in Royal Ivey, but he has not averaged more than three points in any of the last five years. The Sixers led the league in fewest turnovers committed last season, but with a lack of ball-handling guards, that number could skyrocket in 2012-13.
X Factor: Evan Turner
Taken behind only John Wall in 2010, the former Buckeye improved by about two rebounds and points last season, but has still failed to live up to his high draft position. The Sixers are counting on Turner to take a big leap in his third year, especially given the absence of Iguodala. Being able to make contributions across the board – in a way similar to Iguodala – is what Philadelphia is expecting, and the team's success going forward is in many ways tied to the development of the 23-year-old.
What to Expect
The addition of Bynum should make the Sixers an improved team over the long haul, but in order to lock up a high playoff spot and not face one of the East's top teams in the early rounds, Philadelphia's young talent will have to find early chemistry and get off to a fast start. If they get out of the gates well -- as they did last season -- Collins' team should only get better, making them even more dangerous come playoff time.
Tim Chisholm's Offseason Grade
The Sixers were last in the league last year in shots attempted at the rim, a stat that is sure to be turned on its head now that the club has Andrew Bynum anchoring their post attack.
The Sixers waited for years to trade Andre Iguodala, but when they finally did their patience was justified.
Bynum is a transformative talent and in Philadelphia he is surrounded by outside shooters.
Don't underestimate the impact newcomers like Jason Richardson and Nick Young can have if they can hit their threes at a solid clip this season.