As the 2014-15 season gets underway Wednesday for the Sixers, it’s time to focus in on the players who’re expected to make the greatest impact for the team this season. Michael Carter-Williams is expected to miss at least the first five games, as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, so who’s going to fill the offensive void he leaves behind in the meantime? Here’s five players to watch for the upcoming season.
Wroten set the tone for the Sixers offense in preseason, notching 13.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game. The guard from Washington should produce similar numbers to start the season, filling in for an injured Carter-Williams at point guard. Wroten can be lethal in the scoring department. He registered 25 games of 18 or more points last season. When Carter-Williams finally returns to action, expect Wroten to be the first man off the bench.
Carter-Williams is cleared for full-contact practice on November 6. When the reigning Rookie of the Year finally returns to the court in the NBA regular season, expect him to quickly shake off the rust and regain his position as the focal point of the Sixers offense. He averaged 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists and nearly two steals a game last season. Don’t be surprised if his scoring numbers increase this season, but with a worse surrounding cast, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to increase his assists total from a season ago.
Could the Sixers franchise own back-to-back Rookie of the Year award winners? Noel, the team’s coveted 6-foot-11 big man out of Kentucky, just might be able to accomplish that feat. Noel sat all of last season for the Sixers, recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee he sustained in his final season with the Wildcats. In preseason, he filled out the stat-sheet with 8.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.25 steals, 2.5 blocks and 2.0 assists. He’ll need to develop more of an offensive game throughout the season, but it’s not out of the question to think that Noel can steal the award from the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker this season.
Welcome to the block party. McDaniels showed an impressive knack for swatting away the opposition in preseason. The 6-foot-6 wingman rose up to reject a team-high 14 shots in the preseason. He also showed an impressive ability to limit turnovers and protect the rock. He committed just five in 156 total minutes played. The team hasn’t been able to find a true defensive presence on the wing since the loss of Andre Iguodala. It seems like they’ve potentially found their man in McDaniels, the 2014 ACC Defensive Player of the Year out of Clemson.
Sims will never blow you away with his play, but his steady production is what led him into the starting center spot for the Sixers this season. Sims is one of the few players Sam Hinkie has acquired in a trade that has stuck around on the roster. He averaged 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds in just 26 games last season for the Sixers, after being acquired in the Spencer Hawes trade with the Cavaliers. Sims continued this production in preseason averaging 11.1 points and 6.2 rebounds. With added help in the paint from Noel this season, Sims should be able to get into more of a rhythm defensively and see his production increase from a year ago.