E-Mailing with the Enemy: Philadelphia 76ers

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Velasco asks Roy Burton of Liberty Ballers five questions about the Philadelphia 76ers in anticipation of tonight's match-up between the teams. I think we'll need to worry a bit because Roy says the Sixers love to run! Yikes!

1) The Philadelphia 76ers jumped out from the pack in the Atlantic Division at the start of the season, including impressive wins over the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. However, since then, it's been downhill. Looking back at the beginning of the season and its feel good moments, can the Sixers get back there this season or is it a let's *shh*tank*shh* sort of thing now when you consider what's happened since?

There's no need to be shy about it: General Petraeus would be proud at how well we have embraced the prospect (and reality) of tanking. When it comes to the tank, we're like Elmyra Duff of Tiny Toon Adventures fame: We want to hug it and squeeze it and comb its hair and put pretty little bows in it. Sure... it's always fun to win - I'll tell my grandkids about that Opening Night win over Miami - but I'll trade short-term success over long-term gains every day of the week. That said, some of the games this year have been downright painful to watch.

2) Michael Carter-Williams is no joke. Many thought that he'd transition well to man-to-man defense after doing well in Syracuse's zone defense, but his ability to steal the rock has been excellent. What else are Sixers fans loving about MCW? Objectively speaking, do you think he'll be the NBA Rookie of the Year?

The most impressive thing with Michael Carter-Williams is that it's taken him very little time to adjust to the pace of the NBA. I won't go so far as to compare him to Penny Hardaway (as ESPN did recently), but if he's this good 15 games into his career (17.7 PPG, 7.3 APG, 5.8 RPG, a league-leading 3.1 SPG), imagine what he'll be after he has a few years under his belt.

The Rookie of the Year award will likely come down to Carter-Williams and Orlando's Victor Oladipo, and I worry that Oladipo's athleticism may be what tips the scales in his favor in the minds of highlight-influenced voters. It's still early, though: There's plenty of time left in the season for both players to solidify their respective cases.

3) Who's the core "star" of the future for the team, MCW or Evan Turner?

Ideally, the core "star" of the team would be the player that the Sixers ultimately draft with their first selection next June. However, if we're limiting the pool to those currently on the roster, then the clear answer is Michael Carter-Williams. But let's not forget Nerlens Noel: I doubt he'll ever reach franchise-player status, but he has the potential to be a very productive center in this league. 

4) If the Sixers want to tank to better their lottery chances of getting the first pick, one way to do that is to trade established players for future or expiring assets. Who are the top candidates on the Sixers to be traded to get this thing going?

Expect one (or more) of the trio of Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young to be moved by the trade deadline. Not only are Hawes and Turner both having career years, but they're also playing out the string on expiring deals - making them that much more attractive to others around the league. Young will be a bit more difficult to trade thanks to the $19.4 million due to him over the next two seasons, but he's a very active forward who would be a fine role player on a contending team.

5) What are three to five other things that Brooklyn Nets fans should know about the 76ers and give a final score!

The Sixers LOVE to run. They run after makes, they run after misses, they run even when they shouldn't. The oldest player on the active roster (Hawes) is 25 years old, and thanks to their (relatively) young core, the Sixers are athletic enough that they can easily "steal" a win from an older team such as the Nets.

Evan Turner's stats are deceiving - the most consistent thing about him is his inconsistency. Lately, he's been more Mr. Hyde than Dr. Jekyll, but that could change at a moment's notice. After the first quarter tonight, you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from him for the rest of the game.

These aren't Doug Collins's 76ers: You won't see a whole lot of "long 2s" out of this bunch. Ill-advised 18-foot jumpers are nearly non-existent these days as Brett Brown's offensive focus is focused largely on the paint and beyond the arc.

Speaking of three-pointers, the 76ers are absolutely dreadful at guarding the perimeter. Joe Johnson and Mirza Teletovic should get plenty of clean looks tonight, and if they knock them down, then this one could be over early.

Tony Wroten is awesome in every way, shape and form. I wish I could be more eloquent than that, but the words needed to accurately describe his game don't exist in the Oxford Dictionary.

At face value, the 10-point line that Vegas set on this game (in the Nets' favor) seems extraordinarily high. But when that happens, it usually means that the bookmakers know more than we do, so I'll predict a 114-101 Nets' victory. The tank rolls on.

DV's Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers 99, Brooklyn Nets 108.

What do you think the score will be? Leave your predictions in the comments!

For more on the 76ers, see: Liberty Ballers
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