Nick Young Signs 1-year Deal with Philadelphia. Are the 76ers the 3rd Best Team in the East?


Doug Collins is building a beast in Philadelphia. He’s collecting as many long, talented wing players as he can. Might a zone be in Philly’s future? Good luck trying to get through a thicket of gangly 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-9 arms on your way to the basket, Messrs. LeBron, Rondo and Rose. Remember, this is a 76ers’ team that took Boston to a 7th game in the 2nd round of the playoffs before collapsing late in the 4th quarter. (And yes, I know – if Derrick Rose plays in the 1st round, the 76ers aren’t winning that series.)

The 76ers decided to amnesty Elton Brand today, and they signed Spencer Hawes to a 2-year, $13 million deal, and I like the look of Philly’s nucleus:

C: Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen
PF: Thaddeus Young, Nikola Vucevic, Arnett Moultrie (R)
SF: Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless
SG: Evan Turner, Nick Young, Jodie Meeks
PG: Jrue Holiday

It appears as if they’re letting their top scorer, reserve Lou Williams, walk. Williams was arguably their most clutch player, and shot 36 percent on 3-pointers. That role probably shifts to Holiday or Turner now. Depending on the progress of Harkless, I wouldn’t be surprised if they dealt Iguodala at the trade deadline if Philly was not in the position I think it’ll be in (3rd place in the East behind Miami and Boston, and yes, just ahead of Indiana).

Why so bullish on Philly?

Unlike Chicago and Miami, who can truly only rely on Rose/LeBron/Wade to score when it matters, Philly has Iguodala, Turner and the rapidly emerging Holiday. Plus, I think Harkless will be much better, much sooner than everyone is anticipating (ceiling? James Worthy?). An end-game lineup of Holiday, Turner, Nick Young, Iguodala and Hawes can get points from many places.

If the Pacers let Hibbert go, and Brooklyn doesn’t get Dwight Howard, Philly will be my No. 3 pick in the East. Here’s how I see the conference shaping up, with free agency not complete (and here’s the West, if you missed it):

1. Miami
2. Boston
3. Philadelphia
4. Indiana
5. Chicago (probably being too generous)
6. New York (yup, Knicks ahead of the Nets)
7. Brooklyn
8. Cleveland
9. Orlando (obviously subject to change if Dwight Howard is dealt)
10. Milwaukee (can’t wait to see a full season of Jennings and Ellis)
11. Washington
12. Atlanta (could fall further if Josh Smith or Al Horford are traded)
13. Toronto
14. Detroit
15. Charlotte