NBA 2014-15 Power Rankings Preview: #30 Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers went from bad to unfathomably worse this offseason, but hey, Nerlens Noel is coming!

This NBA offseason has been very eventful, and we’re only a few short weeks away from the start of team training camps. To help bridge that gap for hoops junkies, we here at numberFire will be rolling out our projections for next season in the form of team previews, starting at 30 and going all the way to number one. We start today at the very bottom of the barrel with the 30th-ranked Philadelphia 76ers!

The Sixers were the second worst team in the NBA last season, but our metrics like their chances of completely bottoming out this year (yay?). Most of the real NBA talent they once had on their roster has been shipped off elsewhere, and the best of their current assets are either hurt, coming off injury, overseas, or two years away from being two years away. GM Sam Hinkie has truly embraced the tank more completely than any NBA executive in recent memory and this season should test the limits of just how bad a team can intentionally be before someone intervenes.

numberFire Metrics

Projected Record: 26-56
Eastern Conference Rank: 15th
NBA Rank: 30th
nERD: 26.0
Playoff Chances: 4.25%
Championship Chances: 0.00%

No huge surprises here in terms of rank (30th of 30) and championship odds (0.00%). The seven-game leap over last season in wins probably has a lot to do with most of the Eastern Conference competition evening out, but don't be surprised if our algorithms are a little too generous to these guys here. No team has ever gone 0-82, but this is a team that looks like it was constructed to try.

Player Movement

Notable Additions
Nerlens Noel (back from injury)
Joel Embid (not likely to play this year)
Dario Saric (playing overseas in 2014-15)
Luc Mbah a Moute (via trade)
Alexey Shved (via trade)

Notable Losses
Thaddeus Young (traded)

Thaddeus Young was the last remaining Sixer from when the team used to make the playoffs. There's a lot of buzz and excitement over Nerlens Noel making his NBA debut, but additions like Mbah a Moute and Shved won't make this team any better.

Three Burning Questions

Who are all these guys?
Hollis Thompson, Tony Wroten, Henry Sims, Arnett Moutltrie, Casper Ware, Elliot Williams, Brandon Davies, and K.J. McDaniels. All guys who could play big minutes for the Sixers this season and probably wouldn’t make another rotation in the league.

Is Michael Carter-Williams actually good?
Last season’s rookie class was one of the weakest in years. Michael Carter-Williams won the Rookie of the Year award for the inflated point (16.7), rebound (6.2), assist (6.3), and steal (1.9) numbers he put up while playing heavy minutes for the fastest and most talentless team in the league. With a nERD of -8.1 (fourth lowest in the entire NBA), a mere 0.26 win share per 48 minute rate (39th among last season’s rookies), and a deplorable effective field goal percentage of 43.1% (the absolute worst among qualifying players in the league), one can’t help but wonder if he’s actually destined to be a good NBA player or if he’s simply in the right place at the right time to pad his stats and make us believe he is.

Will guys like Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric make all this tanking worth it?
All three of these guys could’ve been top picks or at least close to it in the last couple of drafts if not for injuries (Noel and Embiid) and overseas obligations (Saric). If some combination of those three turn out to be impact players and Philly parlays what promises to be an abysmal 2014-15 into more top draft picks in 2015, this could perhaps start looking like a real basketball team again instead of just a D-League sheep in an NBA wolf’s clothing.

Fantasy Hoops Stock Watch

PF/C Nerlens Noel (Yahoo O-Rank: 47)
Noel represents one of the most intriguing middle-round fliers in fantasy hoops this coming season. The Sixers played at the fastest pace in the league last year (101.62 possessions per 48 minutes) and that meant inflated counting stats across the board. Noel could very well average a double-double in points and rebounds in his rookie year while shooting over 50.0% from the floor. If he does that while adding around a steal and two blocks per game (a subtly rare commodity), he could make for a great pick for managers who whiff on big men in the first few rounds.

PG Michael Carter Williams (Yahoo O-Rank: 78)
MCW was great as a late-round pick or waiver wire add in his rookie season, but his price tag might prove to be a bit too high in year two. The inflated points, rebounds, assists, and steals should still be there, but it comes at the expense of a big drain on field goal percentage (40.5%), a ridiculous number of turnovers (for 9-category players), and a low free throw percentage (70.3%) for a point guard. The extremes of help and harm won’t be a very friendly combination for managers looking to build a balanced team, although those punting field goal percentage or turnovers could find value in drafting him at his current rank.