AOL.com's Preseason NBA Power Rankings: 30. Philadelphia 76ers
Desperate for some much-needed NBA #content? Look no further.
NBA tip-off isn't until October 27, but if you think that's too far off -- check out your nearest calendar. That's exactly 30 weekdays away. Conveniently, there are 30 teams in the NBA. Seems like a perfect time to roll out out preseason team rankings!
We begin with No. 30, working our way toward our projected No. 1 on the eve of the regular season. Let's get started, shall we?
As is something of a tradition of late, the Philadelphia 76ers open the NBA season as the projected worst team in the league.
One positive for Philly, though, is that the team was fairly entertaining by the end of last season, and figures to be again in 2015-16 -- due in no small part to the addition of Jahlil Okafor.
The Duke product slipped to No. 3 on draft day, where the Sixers rightfully snagged him ahead of Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis, despite draft-season rumors of them being tempted to leap for the European. In the preseason, Okafor took a while to get going -- looking tired and uneasy among other pros. But it wasn't long before the 19-year-old got it going.
There's little doubt that Okafor can step in and provide NBA-level results relatively quickly. The same can't be said about his surrounding cast, though.
Joel Embiid is set to miss a second consecutive year after being drafted in 2013, and arguably the Sixers' next best talent, Dario Saric, is staying overseas for at least another year. Nerlens Noel proved to be an impressive defender in his rookie season, but there are doubts as to whether he and Okafor can fit in the same frontcourt.
Robert Covington emerged as a viable candidate to start under Brett Brown and Tony Wroten, before going down with a season-ending injury, was one of the league's more pleasant surprises. Wroten is scheduled to return from a torn ACL in time for the start of the season, and he's tentatively slated to be the starting point guard.
Isiah Canaan is another intriguing piece in that backcourt, as is Kendall Marshall, Pierre Jackson and Scottie Wilbekin. But, like most of the roster, these guys are lottery tickets. They've been signed to team-friendly, mostly unguaranteed deals, able to be released with no penalty to the team but under contract for several years on cheap salaries if they perform well.
Philadelphia escaped the Eastern Conference's cellar thanks to the New York Knicks' putrid showing in Derek Fisher's first season as coach. But with Carmelo Anthony presumably healthy and some veteran help arriving this year, the 76ers probably won't get as lucky in 2016.
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