Philadelphia 76ers 2008/2009 Season Preview
The Philadelphia 76ers appeared headed for a second straight year without the playoffs as they continued their rebuilding process following the trade of star guard Allen Iverson to the Denver Nuggets a couple of seasons ago.
However, the team caught fire midway through the season and finished as one of the hotter teams in the NBA, making the playoffs as the No. 7 seed and pushing the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the playoffs.
Point guard Andre Miller had his best season as pro, showing the ability to get others involved while also being a scoring option as well. Many felt Miller never had the ability to orchestrate the offense for a playoff team, but he showed last year that he is more than capable of doing so.
As for the offseason, the Sixers came out of nowhere to sign forward Elton Brand, a major move that has now positioned them to make a run at the top teams in the Eastern Conference. He was expected to return to the Los Angeles Clippers, having opted out of his contract only to save the team money so they could sign a star player that would make them a legit contender.
However, the Clippers initially low-balled him while the Sixers threw out a handsome offer that made Brand feel wanted in the city of brotherly love. He eventually decided on the Sixers, knowing that it would be easier to win a title in Eastern Conference than the Western Conference.
Brand returned to the Clippers late last season to show that he was fully healthy and recovered from a torn achilles tendon. The Sixers certainly don't appear to be getting damaged goods and there is no questioning Brand's work ethic.
Philadelphia was in desperate need of a power forward to bang around in the post with center Samuel Dalembert, and they got that much and so much more in Brand. He is pretty much an automatic double-double every night and will certainly help take some of the scoring pressure of off Andre Iguodala.
Forward Thaddeus Young had a terrific rookie season and should be even better in his second season. He is a solid contributor on both the offensive and defensive ends.
The team's most glaring weakness has to be outside shooting. After trading away guard Kyle Korver last season to the Utah Jazz, the team has been left without any major outside shooting threats. Upgrading that area of the team would go a long way in making the Sixers a legitimate contender.
I'm not sure Philadelphia is quite there with the Celtics yet, but the signing of Brand will certainly move them very close to the top tier of the Eastern Conference. They should make the playoffs and win at least one series, but it might not be until the team's younger players mature a bit more that we see the Sixers as true contenders for an Eastern Conference Crown.