BoxScore Geeks' 2014 Philadelphia 76ers Preview

The Numbers

  •  Average Seed
    12
  • 📉 Pessimist
    15.2 wins
  •  Realist
    23.2 wins
  • 📈 Optimist
    31.2 wins
 First Seed
 
0.0%
⋆ Division
 
0.6%
 Top 4
 
0.6%
👍 Over (15.5)
ğŸ‘Ž Under (15.5)
 
17.6%
ğŸŽ€ Playoffs
 
9.0%

The Brief

Sam Hinkie cares a lot about winning. He just doesn't care if the team does it in 2014 or 2015. He's not particularly shy about this, either. My fondest memory of last year's Sloan conference was meeting Mr. Hinkie, and asking him to find a way to eek out 2 more wins for my over bet. He looked at me like I was daft and said "You bet the over on us!?".

I've bet the over on the Sixers again this year. It's a good bet, but we are going to sweat it all year long.

The Story

While other lottery-bound teams waste millions of dollars on blah players that will not move the needle, Hinkie has recognized that there is no sense in paying top dollar for wins that won't matter now. The 76ers are not paying the Channing Fryes and Rodney Stuckeys of the world; cap space is far more valuable. This gives the team a couple of huge strategic advantages:

  • They can inject themselves into almost any trade where two parties want to make a deal, but can't because of cap restrictions. They use cap to absorb players nobody wants (Alexy Shved, Luc Mbah a Moute, Danny Granger, Byron Mullens, etc) and take a bribe in the form of draft picks to do so.
  • They have plenty of roster spots to give young players a shot. They find guys like Hollis Thompson because they aren't filling roster spots with mediocre veterans (unless they got a bribe to take the vet in a trade, of course).
  • Every year, there is always the potential to flip the switch and start throwing that money at the market. Imagine that Noel wins rookie of the year, and Embiid wins it next year. Suddenly, Philadelphia will become a very attractive destination for a max-level player or two, and Philly will have the cap room to pay at least two of them.

Last Year

  •  Actual Wins: 19
  •  Expected Wins: 15.0
  • ⚅ Lucky Wins: -3.2

 

Player Minutes Age WP48 Wins
Thaddeus Young  2718.0 26 .015 .9
Michael Carter-Williams 2414.0 22 .049 2.5
James Anderson 2309.0 25 .088 4.2
Evan Turner  1886.0 25 .013 .5
Tony Wroten 1765.0 21 -.077 -2.8
Hollis Thompson 1742.0 23 .107 3.9
Spencer Hawes  1666.0 26 .068 2.4
Elliot Williams 1157.0 25 -.001 0
Lavoy Allen  960.0 25 .095 1.9
Henry Sims 707.0 24 .117 1.7
Brandon Davies 575.0 22 -.053 -.6
Jarvis Varnado 337.0 26 .152 1.1
Daniel Orton 251.0 24 .023 .1
Byron Mullens 247.0 25 .049 .3
Lorenzo Brown  224.0 23 -.100 -.5
Darius Morris  193.0 23 -.010 0
Arnett Moultrie 187.0 23 -.020 -.1
Dewayne Dedmon  150.0 24 .008 0
Casper Ware 116.0 24 .041 .1
Eric Maynor 112.0 27 -.032 -.1
James Nunnally 111.0 24 -.033 -.1
Darius Johnson-Odom 15.0 24 -1.024 -.3
Adonis Thomas  13.0 21 -.160 0

 

 Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.

  • 15.0 total Wins Produced
  •  8 players leaving
    (7810.0 minutes, 5.1 wins)

The length of this roster illustrates one of those points. 23 players! There was a revolving door of them last year. Most of them weren't NBA caliber, but it makes sense to try out as many as possible.

The 76ers just didn't have many win producesr on that roster (surprisingly; we thought that Turner and Young were going to be much better than they were). They compounded this disadvantage by playing at the league's fastest pace (the next fastest team wasn't even close). In fact, in my mind, this is the most damning evidence of "tanking".

Fast pace favors the better team, for the same reason that a 7-game series favors the better team more than a 5-game series; it reduces variance. In other words, the more possessions there are, the more likely it is that the better team will win. I very much doubt that this detail is lost on the 76ers management team. However, a fast pace benefits the management in other ways: players' stats are higher. A player that scores 15 points a game is more attractive on the trade market than one who scores 13 points a game, and playing at a 10-15% faster pace than everybody else can make that happen. Of course, the negative stats (missed field goals, turnovers, fouls, etc) also go up, but thankfully for the Sixers, most of the league's GMs don't bother with those stats.

 

This Year

  •  Projected Wins: 23.2
  •  Conference Rank: 15
  • % Playoffs: 9.0

 

Player Position Minutes Age WP48 Wins
Michael Carter-Williams 1.0 2308.2 23 .062 3.0
Hollis Thompson 3.0 2218.7 24 .095 4.4
Henry Sims 4.0 2080.1 25 .086 3.7
K.J. McDaniels  2.0 1940.1 0 .062 2.5
Nerlens Noel  5.0 1824.2 0 .151 5.7
Elliot Williams 2.0 1128.3 26 .011 .2
Tony Wroten 2.0 1121.3 22 -.048 -1.1
Brandon Davies 4.0 1093.6 23 -.108 -2.5
Arnett Moultrie 4.0 943.5 24 .045 .9
Jason Richardson  2.0 608.4 34 .094 1.2
Chris Johnson  3.5 589.5 30 .139 1.7
Alexey Shved  1.5 534.3 26 .018 .2
Jarvis Varnado 3.5 520.1 27 -.029 -.3
Joel Embiid  5.0 378.6 0 .120 .9
Casper Ware 1.0 370.3 25 -.210 -1.6
Jerami Grant  3.0 302.8 0 .048 .3

 

 Indicates that the player is new to the team.

  • 📅 7.1 WP last year
    by these players
  • 🔀 5.8 WP (roster changes)
  • ⏲ 1.7 WP (age/experience)

Once again, we think this team is a lot better than 15 wins. Most of this is because we think Nerlens Noel is the best candidate for rookie of the year. His NCAA comps were amazing. He's been forgotten a bit thanks to sitting out all of last year, but I cannot think of a clearer favorite for rookie of the year. Even if he's a disappointment, it won't be hard for him to be better than every big who played for this team last year.

The minute projections for Williams are probably high, and this is very worrisome because all of the backup PG options are pretty horrible. But the fact remains that it is just really hard to lose 67 games (a .183 winning percentage). Only 28 teams in history had a winning percentage of .183 or worse. The number shrinks to 10 if you go down to .182.

To add to this, it is almost certain that on Wednesday, the NBA will change the lottery order rules. That doesn't give Philadelphia any extra incentives to win, but it will almost certainly kill any incentives to actively try for losses.

The Wrap

We're probably going to sweat it all year, as Nerlens Noel sits out games for precautionary reasons, or Joel Embiid doesn't play at all, or the team takes forever and a day to clear MCW to play again, but the smart money is that somehow, other teams will find a way to lose often enough that Philly will beat the 15.5 over.

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