Philly Sports Live

Are the Sixers a championship contender in 2012-13?

I was a spoiled child at 9 years old, having the privilege to go to basketball games at the Spectrum and see the talent and speed of Allen Iverson gracefully put the ball in the net for the Sixers. Anyone growing up near the time of that memorable 2000-01 season can’t deny that “The Answer” was their favorite player. Even adults would be lying if they said that Allen wasn’t a large reason they would watch NBA games. The prolific scoring of Iverson kept Broad Street in Philadelphia buzzing for the entire regular season, and the city’s drought for a championship basketball team that began after the 1983 season seemed to be slowly moistening. The Los Angeles Lakers brought the city back to reality thanks to the dominance of Shaquille O’Neill and head coach Phil Jackson. The well was dryer than ever after a 4-1 series loss at the Spectrum.

For the first time since that season the Sixers are legitimately looking for another loud postseason appearance. After trimming the roster of much needed salary cap space, bringing in high ranking 3-point shooters, and a blockbuster trade that brought the whole city to the Constitution Center on Arch Street to meet All-Star center Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, the Sixers may have just landed the opportunity this city has been waiting for nearly 30 years.

But every team in the league knows that you can’t travel the yellow brick road without encountering a few lions along the way.

The Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls are four teams are shoo-in’s for high playoff berths this postseason, but August is a little early to pinpoint where each team will land in the standings and how they will match up come the end of April. With the Sixers addition of sharpshooters, playoff experience against three of the four stated teams in the past two postseasons, trading for a dominating center in the post, a top-5 head coach, and a No. 2 draft pick that is set for his breakout year in Evan Turner, the Sixers look like the team to beat in the Atlantic Division. Though the Celtics have added depth to their backcourt by acquiring Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, the team is still aging and lacks depth at nearly every other position. The Nets added much needed scoring help by trading for Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks, but failing to land Dwight Howard means that their offense in the post is still dull at best. Coach Doug Collins should be disappointed if his team lands anywhere beneath second in the Eastern Atlantic.

The idea of this renewed and revamped Sixers roster is one that all of us speculators can see making a deep run into the playoffs. The only thing in the Eastern Conference that could lead to trouble for them in the postseason is the reigning champion Miami Heat and LeBron James. Though the Sixers have washed away all smudges of mediocrity in this offseason, how the team will mesh together is still crucial to their success and getting wins. The Heat have only gotten better by drafting a 7 foot center and adding Ray Allen to their long list of lethal 3-point shooters. And while this city is still ecstatic over the acquisition of Andrew Bynum, it can’t be overlooked that LeBron James and his throne are glued atop the world that is professional basketball.

Could the Sixers be the team that takes home the Golden Net, Rim and Ball this year? The idea isn’t farfetched, but for now it is unlikely.

The Sixers could finish with the best win percentage for the franchise in a decade this season, but the fruits of their labor matter not to the showcase inside of the Wells Fargo Center that holds 3 Larry O-Brien Trophies.