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Previewing the Atlantic Division: Philadelphia 76ers Edition

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2008 Record: 40-42

Playoffs?: Eliminated by the Detroit Pistons in Game 6 of the First Round

2008 Record Vs. the Celtics: 1-3

Departures: Kyle Korver, Rodney Carney, Gordon Giricek, Louis Amundsom, Calvin Booth

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via file.shanghaidaily.com

Additions*: Elton Brand, Donyell Marshall, Theo Ratliff, Royal Ivey, Kareem Rush, Herbert Hill, Marreese Speights

Key Story Heading into Camp:
Yes Louis Williams and Andre Iguodala got paid. But it has to be about Elton Brand. He'll turn 30 in March, is coming off a season in which he only played 8 games, and is supposed to be 100%. I'm not sure what to say about him. He's one of the most consistent players in all of the NBA. In fact Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Shaq are the only other current players averaging 20+ points and 10+ rebounds for their careers. At the same time he's only been to 2 All Star Games. I realize that's not the best way to evaluate a player. But it matters to a degree. Regardless the 76ers are convinced that Brand is an excellent fit:

"We fully believe that his considerable talent, wealth of experience and proven leadership will mesh very well with the style of play of this team and he will be valuable member of this organization for years to come." Ed Stefanski, 76ers President and General Manager

X-Factor: I sat court side for Philadelphia's only victory over Boston last season. Granted the C's offense was dreadful over the final 1/3 of the game and the W meant a lot more to the 76ers than it would have to Boston. But Philly ran the Celtics off the court. There's something to be said for Williams, Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, and company. In fact more than a few people have wondered what Josh Smith would have done with those guys. Obviously a moot point. However, one looming question remains. Who does Philly lean on in crunch time? I liked ClipperSteve's recent take on this:

"If Brand were number 2 in the Philly Big Three, this wouldn't really be a problem.  But unfortunately for Sixer fans, Andre Iguodala would seem to have a very similar problem - he's a phenomenal athlete, he works hard every game, he does many things very well on the basketball court - and he's not particularly good at getting his own shot. 

As for Dalembert... puh-leeze. Sam Dalembert would be the third best big on the Clippers.  Maybe.

All of which leaves the Sixers with over $40M in 2010-2011 salary committed to three guys, none of whom is really  a 'go to' scorer and Elton Brand as their best player.  No offense, but in nine NBA seasons, teams with Elton Brand as their best player have made the playoffs once." - ClipperSteve

View From the The Other Side: I caught up with jsams from Sixersoul and asked him what fans of the NBA had to know about the 76ers. His response:

"I'd have to say, look for our two young stars, Iguodala and Lou-Will to take the proverbial "next step". Reports are Iguodala's been working extra hard on his jumper this off-season. The addition of Elton Brand should help free things up for the both of them.

Also, there's a possibility rookie, Mo Speights could play a similar role to the team that Thaddeus Young did last year. Many Sixer fans, including me, think he'll emerge as the steal of the draft."

Random Point of Information: Elton Brand shared his Rookie of the Year Award with, wait for it, wait for it...Steve Francis. Not sure what to say about that.

*Philadelphia's roster currently lists 17 players. I'd guess that Kevin Ollie, Herbert Hill, and Shavlik Randolph are on thin ice.