John Hollinger has released his player PER projections for the upcoming seasons, we'll take a look at the Sixers on his list after the jump.
Here's the link to the full list. I don't think it's Insider content at this point. Here are the notable Sixers, the number is Hollinger's overall rank:
35. Marreese Speights (Z. Randolph is 34, L. Aldridge is 36) - PER: 18.71
Speights enters the season as the third big man in the rotation behind Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert, but given Dalembert's struggles last year, that may change as the year progresses. Speights should play far more than last season's 16.1 minutes per game, especially since new boss Eddie Jordan is an offensive coach who likes to let his big men operate out of the high post -- a place where Speights' shooting can be very effective.
While his rookie numbers were impressive, one caveat is that rookies with low turnover rates don't tend to improve as much in subsequent seasons as do their more turnover-prone cohorts. Therefore, we shouldn't get too giddy with projections for his future, especially since his questionable conditioning provides another reason for pause. At worst he'll be a very effective offensive center for the next several years, but his ceiling isn't as high as a quick peak at his rookie player efficiency rating might imply.
44. Thaddeus Young (Anthony Randolph is 43, Andre Iguodala is 45) - PER: 18.07
2009-10 outlook: Young is only 21 years old and doesn't appear anywhere near his ceiling, so he's one to watch in the coming years. The question du jour is where he fits best. Young played better as a 4 than as a 3 last season, but with Elton Brand and Marreese Speights seeming to be the frontcourt pairing for the next few years, it would be a much better use of Philly's talent if Young could play the wing with Andre Iguodala.
If so, then the improvement in Young's outside shot a year ago is a key to watch at the start of the season. So, too, is his mysteriously disappearing rebound rate from a year ago. If he can regain the hunger on the boards that marked his rookie year, it will be easier for Philly to play small with Young and either Brand or Speights up front. Either way, he's a star on the rise. It may not be this season, but at some point the Sixers are going to be fitting players in around Young rather than the other way around.
45. Andre Iguodala (Thad is 44, David Lee is 46) - PER: 18.00
2009-10 outlook: If Iguodala is ever going to make the All-Star team, this will be the year. Andre Miller's departure will enable Iguodala to get more reps as an offensive initiator and likely increase his profile, while he should be entering the sweet spot of his career at age 25.
Additionally, he may start getting more attention for his work on the defensive end since a player's reputation at this end tends to lag his offensive performance by a year or two. Igoudala's averages a year ago received a boost from his league-leading minutes total, so they may not change as dramatically as they would otherwise. Nonetheless, if everything breaks right, a 20-6-6 season is within the realm of possibility.
59. Lou Williams (Joe Johnson is 58, Al Horford is 60) - PER: 17.21
2009-10 outlook: With Andre Miller's departure, Williams will start at point guard, which should be ... interesting. He's a good scorer with the second unit, but he's going to have to take his game in a very different direction to effectively run the offense. The plan may be to run much of the attack through Andre Iguodala and allow Williams to play off the ball, where he's more comfortable, but inevitably he's going to have to run some plays and get everybody else their shots before going for his own jacks.
Less prominently, he also must improve his defense. With Williams' quickness, he should be a much better defender against point guards, and maybe playing against them full-time will allow him to achieve more of his potential at that end. If he holds his own and can boost his assist ratio into the low 20s, the rest of his skills should allow him to be an adequate replacement for Miller.
95. Elton Brand (M. Okur is 94, D. Rose is 96) - PER: 15.84
2009-10 outlook: Philadelphia will give Brand every chance to show he's back to his old form as a half-court post presence. Since nobody else on the team can score in a structured setting, they don't have much of a choice anyway. Of more interest, perhaps, is where the Sixers will play Brand. Their successful foray into playing up-tempo after Brand's injury, combined with holdover center Samuel Dalembert's scuffling campaign, may tempt the Sixers to play Brand as an undersized five.
That might help Brand as well: If he's not going to post up anyway, he'll clear a lot more space to work on pick-and-pops if centers oppose him. However, the first choice for Philly is to use him at power forward and hope he can overpower opposing 4s the way he did three years ago. With his contract tying up their cap and preventing other personnel additions, extracting the most they can out of Brand -- whatever that is -- appears to be the only way forward.
Big picture, however, the numbers paint a discouraging picture of a guy who may no longer be an effective post scorer. In addition to his size disadvantage, Brand is now 30 and coming off a serious leg injury. Signs of his former explosiveness offer some hope -- he finished fifth among power forwards in blocks per minute and his rebound rate was unchanged -- but there's a decent chance the Sixers are paying $65 million over the next four years for a guy who can't bag his own shots anymore.
165. Samuel Dalembert (Kenyon Martin is 164, Steve Blake is 165) - PER: 13.34
2009-10 outlook: The Sixers tried to trade Dalembert to anyone who would listen, only to find 29 pairs of deaf ears. He'll begin the year in Philly's frontcourt rotation again, either as the starting center or a prominent backup, and the hope is that last year's struggles might prompt him to work harder on his game in the offseason and focus more on the court.
I said "hope" because nobody's counting on it. New coach Eddie Jordan's Princeton offense emphasizes big men handling the ball up top, which means that Dalembert's profound inability to execute that exact thing will relegate him to finishing games on the pine regardless of whether he starts them.
So, there's your starting five. Hollinger adjusts PER so a 15.00 represents an average player. 4 of 5 starters are thus, above average in his projections with Dalembert being the sole subpar starter. Speights, the supposed sixth man, projects to be the most productive player on the roster.
Personally, I don't like PER as a stand-alone metric, it favors gunner greatly, doesn't value rebounds highly enough for my liking, but there you have it. He's got Iguodala's PER taking a bit of a dive, Speights and Thad continuing to evolve, Lou with a nice little jump and what I'd call a pessimistic outlook on EB. Thoughts in the comments, as usual.