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The Sixers wrapped up their preseason last night with a 125-102 home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. After starting off the preseason 2-1 with victories over Bilbao and Boston and a close loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Sixers honed their tanking skills by losing their next four games by an average of 22 points. With the Sixers opening the season against the defending-champion Miami Heat in only six days, let's take a look at what we learned from the preseason.
Nerlens Noel will not play this season.
- For some reason, this came as a shock to some fans. When The War Room posted the news on their Facebook page, fans started comparing Nerlens Noel to Andrew Bynum. I don't think some of you understand what's going on here, so I'm going to break it down for you. Noel will be healthy enough to play by January and wants to play as soon as he can. The Sixers want to lose so that they can acquire a top pick in next year loaded draft. Noel coming back this season could provide a spark to the team, which is exactly what they don't want to happen. They are TELLING him to sit the season out. Bynum was lazy and had no interest in playing basketball last season as long as he was getting his money. See the difference?
- While also helping their chances at being absolutely terrible this year, this allows for Noel's knee to completely recover from the surgery. Coming back too soon from a knee injury is just about the worst thing an NBA player can do. Just ask Gilbert Arenas. Noel will be able to resume basketball activity by January. Basically, he can spend January 2014 until October 2014 developing a mid-range jumper that he has said he wanted to add. If he develops it, the sky is the limit for him.
James Anderson will be the starting SG.
- With Jason Richardson being out until next year, the Sixers had a void at shooting guard that needed to be filled. James Anderson got the nod from Brett Brown and made the most of it. He shot 48 percent from deep in the preseason and averaged 13.9 points per game. This is a player that has never had a real opportunity to show what he can do, spending his career playing behind Manu Ginobili and James Harden.
Evan Turner is going to have a big year.
- It was easy to see this one coming, and it was only confirmed by what we've watched. Turner is going to have the ball in his hands a lot, and while he may not have a very efficient year, he will score strictly on volume. He lead the team in points and assists, and he was second to only Spencer Hawes in rebounds. That sounds great, right? Well it is, because of how he got there. He shot 38 percent from the field and 14 percent from three. If he keeps up that poor efficiency, we may never win a game!
Royce White could show up to road games!
- Perhaps one of the biggest shocks of the preseason was Royce White, who suffers from mental anxiety and a fear of flying, getting on a flight with the team to attend a road game in Charlotte. He was also reported to be attending their preseason game against Bilbao in Spain, but backed out at the last minute. That is understandable though, considering flying from Philadelphia to Spain is about eight hours long. This is a huge step for him. White could be a productive NBA player if he is able to be at every NBA game. There's a reason he was able to dominate an Anthony Davis-led Kentucky team.
UPDATE: Royce White will not be showing up to road games, as he was cut by the Sixers hours after this article was posted. I personally thought he would've been a productive bench player for the Sixers. They may have cut him because he showed up out of shape.
The Pelicans, unfortunately, might be good.
- As you should know, the return for the Jrue Holiday this past June was a top-five protected first round pick, as well as Nerlens Noel, tying the Pelicans fate to our own. There was hope that the Pelicans pick could provide a top-ten selection, but I think we may be looking at a late lottery pick. Anthony Davis has been phenomenal in the preseason, averaging 21.4 points, 2 steals, and 2.14 blocks per game. Eric Gordon has also looked really good, and Jrue Holiday won't be asked to do as much as he had to in Philadelphia. Throw in Tyreke Evans, who rid himself of the Sacramento Stink, and a potent three-point shooter in Ryan Anderson, and you have a very good team. The major thing to look for is whether or not this team can stay healthy. Stay tuned.
It's going to be painful to watch Sixers games this year.
- With the ultimate goal of getting the first overall pick this year, the Sixers will definitely win less than 20 games this year. There has even been talk of them making a run at the worst record in NBA history (the current record also held by the Sixers is 9-73). While I don't see that happening, I don't expect them to win more than 15 games this year. Sixers coach Brett Brown said, "You have six NBA players and then you have a bunch of guys who are fighting for spots and want to be seen and need opportunity." It's going to be some terrible basketball, but we fans just have to keep our eyes on the prize...