By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –The Sixers begin the 2012-13 season Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center against the Denver Nuggets, and they'll do it without their best player and major offseason acquisition, Andrew Bynum.
Even with Bynum's absence during the preseason, the Sixers played well, ranking in the top five in the league in defensive and offensive efficiency, and finishing with a 6-1 record. Though there's little chance they'll be as effective defensively as they were last season, having lost their best perimeter defender in Iguodala and best post defender in Brand, they should be much improved on offense even without Bynum. They have shooters this year! Real live shooters! Almost forgot what that was like.
Here's what the national basketball media thinks about the Sixers:
"[Sound of nervous laughter]." Strong preseason, but without Andrew Bynum, you wonder what they can do offensively.
The fact we've scarcely seen a dribble out of the ailing Bynum, after all the September hoopla about his arrival in this cyberspace, pretty much assures that the 11-year-old committee (of one) will be subjected to Power Rankings jinx taunts for the 11th straight season.
Andrew Bynum in the middle, a bunch of steady perimeter shooters and an up-and-coming point guard in Jrue Holiday. And when it comes to hunger, Sixers are the Thunder of the East.
This is a drastically different team than last year's band of scrappy upstarts, and it's already unclear how much they'll be able to rely on their huge new asset and his creaky knees. (Andrew Bynum. We're talking about Andrew Bynum, if that wasn't evident). Philly has the shooters it lacked last season, but it's hard to picture this group defending as competently as last year's. Like a lot of the teams around them on this list, the Sixers are just too new to comfortably assess here in late October. Yet here we are.
Despite last spring's run to East semis and this fall's 6-1 preseason, you'd like their chances better with the Andrew Bynum who was an All-Star starter, averaging 19-12. Unfortunately, the Bynum they got waited until August to have knee procedure in Germany and is back to having to show he can stay healthy.
A healthy Andrew Bynum could make the team soar as shooters Jason Richardson, Nick Young and glue-guys Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday complement.
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