, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Philadelphia 76ers 2001-02 Capsule
COACH: Larry Brown (fifth season, 788-612 overall)
LAST SEASON: 56-26, first in Atlantic Division, lost to LA Lakers in NBA Finals
ARRIVALS: F Matt Harpring (trade with Cleveland), F Derrick Coleman (trade with Charlotte), G Vonteego Cummings (trade with Golden State), F Corie Blount (trade with Golden State), C Samuel Dalembert (first-round pick)
DEPARTURES: F Tyrone Hill, F Jumaine Jones, F Roshown McLeod, C Todd MacCulloch, F George Lynch
SLAM DUNKS: By winning the MVP, G Allen Iverson (31.1 ppg, 2.5 spg) showed he is much more than a scoring machine. He is one of the top three or four players in the league and the game's most indispensible player. His ability to wreck defenses should continue to open the floor for Sixth Man Award winner and G Aaron McKie (11.6, 5.0 apg) and G Eric Snow (9.8, 7.4), who was having the best year of his career before breaking his foot last season. C Dikembe Mutombo (10.0, 13.5 rpg, 2.7 bpg) has added some offense to his four Defensive Player of the Year awards and should benefit from a training camp under Brown. Players such as Harpring (11.1), G-F Raja Bell and F-C Matt Geiger understand their roles and stay within them. G Speedy Claxton is back after missing all of last season with an ACL injury and could provide needed offense, although Snow's injury to open the season will put pressure on the rookie. At 61, Brown is still teaching and rarely gets outcoached.
AIRBALLS: Is the chemistry still there? There are many new faces and it remains to be seen if the 76ers can regain the camaraderie that helped them through some tough times last season. Coleman (8.2, 5.4) has the ability to destroy that by himself. McKie and Mutombo have to take some of the offensive pressure off Iverson as they did in the playoffs. Geiger (4.0) cannot spend another season in street clothes. There always remains the possibility that Iverson and Brown could be feuding again, and Brown's potential departure will hang over this club.
IN THE ZONE: With Mutombo in the paint, the Sixers will gamble on defense more than ever, looking for the easy baskets that get them going. They still have solid individual defenders in McKie, Snow and Lynch. Hopefully, Harpring and McKie will make enough jumpers to keep opponents from shadowing Iverson and sagging onto Mutombo.
OUTLOOK: As defending conference champs, the Sixers have a bull's-eye on their back but they know it. There is some talk that last season was a charmed one, but Philadelphia endured plenty of injuries and adversity of its own. Other teams in the East seem to have more, but do not discount the toughness of Iverson, who has shown he can carry a team on his back in the postseason. The Sixers should be playing for the right to go to the Finals again.