Philadelphia 76ers Preview: Q&A with Liberty Ballers

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Baumann from Liberty Ballers was kind enough to answer some questions about the Sixers before tonight's matchup with the Mavs.

The Sixers were the Cinderellas of the first week of the season. Their quick start has propelled the team to the top of the Atlantic Division. Is this sustainable?

No. The Sixers are about as bad a shooting team as you'd ever want to assemble, and their 3-0 start was largely on the backs of hot starts from Evan Turner and Michael Carter-Williams, neither of whom are going to keep shooting the way they have been so far.

And that's not a bad thing. Over at Liberty Ballers, we've already lost three writers to heart attacks in the first two weeks of the season. If the Sixers actually hung on and won the division, we'd have nobody left to cover the playoffs.

Evan Turner is playing extremely well thus far. However, his future with the franchise is murky at best. The "Hinkie is not my GM" comment, despite his play, looms large. Does Turner have a future with the Sixers?

I don't think so. He's got the tools to be an outstanding supporting player for someone. He's good from the corners, he can handle the ball fairly well and he's an outstanding rebounder for a guard. But he wants to be the No. 1 scoring option, which is problematic because no team with Turner as its No. 1 scoring option is going to win more than 30 games a year. He's been red hot to start the season, but we're already starting to see his shooting numbers come back to Earth.

If he weren't going to be a free agent at year's end, maybe this would be a different conversation, but it looks like Sam Hinkie is going to let it ride for the time being and flip him the moment he gets an offer he likes. That could be at the deadline, or it could be sooner--Hinkie has the luxury of being patient and is unafraid to make a move when the opportunity arises.

What's up with Lavoy Allen? He seems like the odd man out in Brett Brown's rotation.

He was always kind of a weird fit with the Sixers. For a while, it seemed like he only got a shot with the Sixers because he went to Temple, and he's nobody's idea of a good NBA power forward. The fact of the matter is that while Doug Collins' sclerotic, 18-foot-jumper-happy offense fit Lavoy's strengths, he's not as athletic or defensively responsible as Thad Young, nor as offensively gifted as Spencer Hawes, nor does he represent the unknown promise of Brandon Davies or Daniel Orton. The result is that minutes have been hard to come by, and Allen doesn't seem immensely invested in winning them back.

The 76ers acquired Nerlens Noel in the draft via trade. He was projected to go number one overall in the draft. He has not played a minute this season due to injury. Philly is rebuilding but how risky is "Père Noel?" (Do people call him that? I could see that as a great jumbotron video as the holidays approach.)

People are too disappointed someone named "Nerlens" didn't go to the Pelicans to come up with a different nickname. But that's good--I'll pass it on.

But even considering that Noel's injury is a ligament injury and not the kind of degenerative condition that derailed Andrew Bynum's season, he represents a fair amount of risk--otherwise he'd have gone No. 1 overall like everyone thought he would. But with the Sixers not intending to contend this year, he can take his time to recover, as well as work on his offensive game a little. Even if he never develops into a real scoring threat, he'll still be a good rebounder and shot blocker, and he'll score in the double digits on dunks and put-backs alone. The good news for Noel is that he couldn't have landed in a better situation. He'll have all year to recover from his injury if he needs it, and at least another year or two after that to develop before the Sixers have any title aspirations to speak of.

Michael Carter-Williams. I don't have a question here so just nuts.

I was very much not an MCW fan when the Sixers drafted him, but he's been outrageous in the early going. He still can't shoot, but at 6-foot-6 he can defend either guard position and he's really buying into Brett Brown's more aggressive system. Like Noel, he'll be given a chance to develop at his own pace, and by sheer force of minutes played, he ought to be on everyone's Rookie of the Year watch list.

That said, he's still in a walking boot for the time being, so it looks like y'all are going to see a little more of Darius Morris in his stead, which is enough to make someone give up watching basketball altogether.

Thanks Michael! For more on the Sixers before tonight's game, head on over to Liberty Ballers.

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