"The Crossover" is a season preview series we're running here at Raptors HQ in which we'll talk to other SB Nation team sites in the Eastern Conference to give us an idea of what to expect from the competition, what their expectations are for both their own team and the Raptors.
1. What would constitute a successful season for the 76ers this season?.
Sixers owner Joshua Harris, when pressed by a local media member who is not a fan of tanking, said last season was a complete success after going 19-63, stripping the team down to its roots, and yet still failing to receive the number one pick (or even top odds, for that matter). The goals appear to be making sure draftees perform at or above expectations, and that the losses mount. The latter will happen regardless as the plan in place practically ensures a bottom 3 record again.
The draftees part is a tougher answer. Carter-Williams had a pleasantly surprising season, with the exception of his woeful shooting. His progress, along with whatever rookies Nerlens Noel and K.J. McDaniels can show, will really determine how successful the season is. A successful season should include a strong rookie campaign for those two, along with clear steps forward for second-year players like MCW and Hollis Thompson.
2. What are your expectations for Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel this season?
I have big expectations for Noel. He's going to struggle with fouls, and with primarily playing at the power forward spot, but his defense should be a plus from the get-go, and he should have ample opportunity to improve his offensive game.
MCW, on the other hand, is a bit of an unknown. As I mentioned above, he really shot poorly from deep, a continuation from his poor-shooting college career. I have little doubt he can put up all-around numbers similar to his rookie season, but I have no idea what his shooting numbers will look like. It's a make-or-break skill.
3. When do you think Sam Hinkie's long term plan will start bearing fruits? Do you think fans will get impatient or have they bought in?
It's still going to be a few years before any meaningful progress in the win-loss column is made, but the fruits are already growing, with the rookies in tow, Dario Saric balling in Europe, Embiid rehabbing, and 2 more first round picks in the upcoming draft.
As for the fans, most appeared to be on board initially, but patience for some is going to wear thin. Shock jocks and anti-tankers are already sick of the turn the team's taken, but most diehards are still on board. I don't think they can get away with punting another draft like this year and expect fans to take it, though.
4. How much are you enjoying Joel Embiid's Twitter feed, if at all?
There are some times I wish he had a minute delay and someone could take his phone away from him. He's already gotten himself into sticky situations, and there's no doubt in my mind that will happen again.
Given all that, he's the funniest Sixers tweeter ever by far and I hope he can tone it down and be more respectful while also having fun, which it seems is all he's trying to do.
5. In your mind, from an outsider's point of view, where do you think the Raptors will finish in the division and in the East?
To me, the Raptors are clear favorites in the division. Even though I worry about how much Kyle Lowry, with his size and injury history, is relied upon, there's too many young players capable of taking large leaps forward that the floor and ceiling for the Raptors is pretty high. It's crazy to imagine, given the calls to tank less than a year ago.