STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
Prior to the 2012-13 season, the Sixers made a blockbuster deal for All-Star center Andrew Bynum, sending away their longtime franchise player Andre Iguodala, along with rising center Nikola Vucevic and rookie Maurice Harkless. High-seed playoff hopes were dashed in the preseason when news of the severity of Bynum's knee issues emerged. Despite excellent play from Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner, the Sixers headed into the lottery, getting no help from their failed investment in Bynum, who did not log a single minute on the court. Understanding Bynum's unreliability and inconsistency, as well as the closing competitive window for the franchise, the Sixers decided to look forward through a different set of eyes, with its scope focused on a different goal.
In an offseason full of change, owner Josh Harris fired ex-general manager Tony DiLeo and hired Sam Hinkie, who brings an analytical approach to the table. Shortly after, the Sixers let head coach Doug Collins walk, replacing him with Brett Brown, introducing a new system that allows players to have more freedom within the offense, something the traditional Collins was opposed to. With their 2013 first-round draft pick, the Sixers selected point guard Michael Carter-Williams to replace All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, who was traded to the Pelicans for rookie sensation Nerlens Noel. With this sweep of changes throughout the roster and front office, the Sixers head into the 2013-14 season with a young squad of talented individuals, looking to prove their worth in the league. Whether or not the Sixers are deliberately trying to tank this season for a favorable draft pick in the highly-anticipated 2014 NBA Draft is debatable, though it's fair to conclude that they don't have any reasonable playoff expectations heading into the season.
PLAYING TIME DISTRIBUTION
Rookie Michael Carter-Williams will likely take up the majority of minutes at the one, with combo-guard Tony Wroten backing him up. While the newly acquired Wroten is a possible option at the two, the Sixers could take a different approach and start Evan Turner there. Although his perimeter shot is not spectacular, his playmaking abilities could be useful for the Sixers at the wing.
The Sixers have many viable options in the frontcourt. If Turner ends up playing the two, the Sixers could go with a taller lineup with Thaddeus Young at the three and Hawes at the four. If not, Young and Hawes would remain at the four and five, respectively, as they did last season. With Nerlens Noel out for the first few months, sophomore Arnett Moultrie could see extended minutes at the four, or even start at the five initially. While Noel will likely start at the five once he returns, Arnett will likely continue to see backup minutes throughout the season.
Spencer Hawes: Hawes had his ups and downs last season, playing without confidence due to job insecurity with Bynum's knee situation changing month by month. Despite this, he managed to finish the season strong. With Noel's injury status presenting a similar scenario, it's possible Hawes' performance may not be as consistent as owners would hope. It's too early to peg Hawes a complete bust, but it's fair to say that the center's fantasy value will likely be a roller-coaster ride, similar to last year.
Nerlens Noel: Once thought to be the unanimous No. 1 pick in mock drafts, Noel slid to the Pelicans with the sixth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, only to get traded to the Sixers shortly after. The rookie has much to prove, as the Sixers gave up proven All-Star Jrue Holiday in the second consecutive year where the franchise invested large stakes in a center. Noel will likely return before January, and could make a solid fantasy impact, particularly in defensive categories such as steals and blocks, if owners are willing to stash him for the first few months.
Kwame Brown: Brown failed to stand out last season despite an opportunity to play a sizable role in the rotation. His career has for the most part been a disappointment, and while he theoretically could still bounce back, he would have to take a 180-degree turn to even be a consideration for fantasy purposes in most leagues.
Evan Turner: With former teammate Andre Iguodala off the roster, Turner was finally able to take on significant minutes last season at the small forward spot. Turner averaged 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists, which made him a solid mid-round fantasy option for a good portion of the season. His ability to produce statistics in multiple categories is desirable. However, he showed wild inconsistency all year long, and his 2013-14 campaign might be his last chance to prove himself worthy of his status as the second overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft.
Thaddeus Young: Young had a strong season, finishing with averages of 14.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.8 steals on 53 percent shooting from the field. The young forward was arguably the Sixers' most consistent player throughout the entire season, and expecting him to build off his strong performance is reasonable for his 2013-14 campaign. Young's ability to rack up rebounds and steals in addition to shooting over 50 percent from the field is a desirable trait in forwards from a fantasy perspective. He remains a low-risk, high-reward mid-round player.
Arnett Moultrie: Moultrie had a solid summer league outing, averaging 12.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. While the sophomore has yet to prove himself, he has shown signs of strong play, with a notable 23-point, 12-rebound performance against the Magic's summer league team. Moultrie has a shot at seeing a decent amount of minutes initially.
Lavoy Allen: Allen played solid minutes last season to fill in for the injured Bynum. While Allen played the occasional fantasy-relevant game, his lack of consistency overall made him only a filler candidate in the deepest of leagues. Allen could put up similar numbers if given the minutes, but he'll likely only be an option in deeper leagues.
Arsalan Kazemi: Kazemi, who was drafted with the 54th overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, did not impress in the summer league, averaging just 4.6 points and 4.6 rebounds despite playing 33 minutes per game. While he has a real shot at making the final roster cut after training camp, he would need to take strides of improvement to be relevant in most leagues this season.
Tim Ohlbrecht: Ohlbrecht will need to prove worthy of a roster spot come training camp, as he is under a non-guaranteed contract for the 2013-14 season. He averaged 13.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 27 minutes per game in the D-League last season.
Michael Carter-Williams: Selected with the 11th overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, rookie Carter-Williams will start at the point guard position on a team with a new head coach and a new system. The Syracuse standout will have ample opportunity to shine, as the depth chart is cleared out at the point guard position, giving him a chance to hit 30-plus minutes per night if he doesn't disappoint. Carter-Williams showed his wild style of play in the summer league, putting up 13.6 points (27 percent from the field), 4.2 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 4.8 turnovers in 34 minutes per game. His ability to put up numbers in all categories makes him a fantasy wild card. Expect to be surprised, for better or for worse, by the unpredictable rookie.
Tony Wroten: Wroten was traded to the Sixers in the offseason, after the Grizzlies gave up on his potential as a combo-guard. The sophomore did not prove his worth last season, arguably because he did not get the opportunity. It's too early to predict if Wroten will be able to transform into a viable role player in the league, but he certainly will have the opportunity to do so with the Sixers, with the shooting guard spot wide open for the taking.
Jason Richardson: Richardson underwent knee surgery in February, and will likely miss the entire 2013-14 season. Despite this, he is under contract for one more year, and will remain on the roster unless he is bought out or traded.
James Anderson: Anderson was waived by the Rockets in the offseason and found his way to a non-guaranteed contract with the Sixers shortly after. While he will need to earn a spot on the roster in training camp, the Sixers' lack of depth at the shooting guard position will be favorable to him. Still, his fantasy potential this season is limited.
Michael Carter-Williams: Carter-Williams will be given all the time in the world to prove his worth as a starting point guard in the league. In a situation comparable to the Blazers' Damian Lillard's of last season, Carter-Williams has no threat off the bench to potentially take his role. While Carter-Williams lacks the perimeter scoring prowess of Lillard, his style of play allows him to rack up large numbers in multiple categories, as evident in his summer league performance. Owners who draft Carter-Williams should keep in mind his low field goal percentage and high turnover rate. However, if one is willing to gamble on the wild card rookie, there could be high rewards in the wait for patient owners.
Nerlens Noel: Returning from a torn ACL, and having played less than an entire season of college basketball, Noel will need to prove himself worthy as an upper-tier fantasy option before prematurely taking up a crown. While it may be tempting to take a gamble on Noel in the middle rounds, the fact of the matter is, he will miss at least the first two months of the season, making him hard to stash in leagues with no injured-reserved roster spaces. While his potential in the defensive categories are enticing, questions will arise as to whether or not his knees will hold up for the entire season due to his explosive style of play. He may eventually put up solid fantasy-worthy numbers, even as early as this season. However, his value may not live up to the hype. Proceed with caution.