Hollinger's Team Forecast: Philadelphia 76ers

Originally Published: October 3, 2006
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
Go to: Offseason moves | Biggest strength | Biggest weakness | Outlook

The rusting hulk of the Allen Iverson-era Sixers continued taking on water, missing the playoffs for a second time in three years despite the best season of The Answer's illustrious career. The Sixers lost 44 games, and there really wasn't much to offer in the way of excuses. They didn't have injuries or off years or bad luck; they just weren't very good.

Philly's biggest concern entering the season was the health of Iverson and his top sidekick, Chris Webber. Both players have histories of missing games, but the duo only missed 17 contests between them -- two of them in a year-end incident in which they no-showed on Fan Appreciation Night.

Allen Iverson
Brian Babineau/Getty Images Allen Iverson didn't have many options when forced to pass.

Both played well, too. Iverson had what was easily the highest PER (player efficiency rating) of his career, finishing second in scoring at a career-high 33.0 points per game while converting a far higher percentage of his torrent of field-goal attempts than usual. Webber allayed concerns about his ability to mesh with Iverson by nearly averaging a 20-10 -- he ending up at 20.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

Those two would have been enough to get Philadelphia to the postseason with a decent supporting cast. Alas, they didn't have one. From players three through 12, the Sixers were the worst team in the league. They were one of only three teams that had only two players with a PER above the league average (Webber and Iverson, natch), the others being Portland and Minnesota. And once you got into the bench, things really got ugly.

Philadelphia had one other halfway-decent starter, guard Andre Iguodala. He didn't progress as much as was hoped, but he didn't see the rock much and was the only starter who played any defense. He was adequate.