The gang at Philadunkia had some Bucks-related questions for us, so we threw a few Sixers-related queries right back at them--here's Carey Smith with his take on Philly's (too?) fast start, the futures of Evan Turner and Thad Young, and what's helped Michael Carter-Williams start so strong.
1) The Sixers have come back down to earth a bit after their fast start, though it seems like most Sixer fans are quite ok with that. Based on a 13-game sample, where do you see this team finishing in April?
The Sixers are not a talented team and perhaps more importantly, they play little to no defense at all. So that fast start was not going to last. The team plays hard for Brett Brown, but I imagine that will stop as the L's pile up and trade rumors kick into high gear. But the Atlantic Division is so bad, that I still see this team winning 15-20 games. That's more than I predicted back in October (11) which could do a great deal of damage to the #WinlessforWiggins campaign. That my friend would bad, very bad.
2) Philly's become a haven for reclamation projects so far, with guys like Tony Wroten, James Anderson and Spencer Hawes playing well above expectations to date. How many of them will likely be Sixers a year from now?
A "haven for reclamation projects"...WOW, that hurts. We like to think of Philadelphia as a place where under utilized and under appreciated talent goes to maximize its upside. If you had asked me this question two weeks ago, I would have said only Wroten (The Sixers just picked up his option). But Anderson has recently shown signs of being able to contribute in this League and Hawes is playing the best ball of his career. Checkout Spencer's stat line from Wednesday vs. TOR -- 28 & 10 on 10-13 shooting and 3-4 on 3PAs. With Doug Collins and his ultra conservative offense gone, Hawes is playing well enough (last 10 gms: 15 & 10 on 47% shooting) that my colleague Micahel Kaskey-Blomain just wrote a post discussing the idea of bringing Hawes back next year. Believe it or not, it's not that crazy of an idea. In short, I believe at least 2 of the 3 players you mentioned will be back with the Sixers in 2014-15.
3) Thad Young and Evan Turner are just entering their primes, but coming into the season they were considered prime trade targets. Especially given Turner's improved play, how do you see them fitting into Sam Hinkie's bigger rebuilding project?
I think Thad is here to stay. On the court he's a very good player who rarely has a play called for him and yet gives you 15 & 7 every night. Plus he's the leader in the locker room for this team and loved in the Philadelphia community. Despite Turner's much improved numbers, I don't believe ET fits into Hinkie's long range plans. "The Enigma" (as I like to call him) has taken a step forward so far this season, but he simply has holes in his game that don't fit Hinkie's game plan . ET has made a solid effort to drive the ball to the rack more under the new regime, but he still takes too many mid-range shots for Brown and San Hinkie's liking. His jumper has improved, but he can not shoot the 3-ball. Don't get me started on his suspect defense. Additionally, he's become an emotional whiner in games and has said some things to the media that make you question whether or not he wants to be a 76er.
So even though his production is increased greatly this year, this has become one of those situations where a fresh start somewhere else may be best for everyone. By the way, I don't 100% blame Turner for way this situation has deteriorated. If Doug Collins had used him properly over the last 2 years he was the head man in Philly, Turner would be beginning his third year of putting up solid numbers and showing growth. Thus Turner wouldn't have been labeled as a disappointing #2 overall pick and he would have gotten an extension from the Sixers. In turn he'd be less moody and the fans would like him a lot more. Thanks Doug.
4) Michael Carter-Williams had one of the best debuts in recent memory and is still putting up big numbers with nine games under his belt. What's surprised you most about his game so far?
What has surprised me the most about MCW is his jump shot. I saw him play a good deal at Syracuse and his jumper was...how should I say this...BROKE. So I give the rookie credit for putting in the time, listening to Brett Brown and fixing what was a glaring weakness for him. His stroke is not the same one he featured at 'Cuse and opponents are learning quickly that they can not leave him open on the perimeter. That change in the game plan of opposing defenses has benefited MCW greatly as e has always had the ability to go by defenders who get up on him. With the new jump shot he's become a more complete point guard and now looks like a great draft pick by Sam Hinkie.