Will the Philadelphia 76ers Be Better Than the Brooklyn Nets?

Between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets, which team will end the 2016-17 NBA season with a better record?

The Philadelphia 76ers ended the 2015-16 season with 10 wins and 72 losses, 11 games worse than the Brooklyn Nets’ 21 wins and 61 losses. Both teams enter the 2016-17 season with new general mangers, with the Sixers hiring Bryan Colangelo and the Nets hiring Sean Marks.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown enters his fourth season with the team, while Nets’ head coach Kenny Alkinson is a first time head coach entering his first year with the team. When it comes to offseason moves, the Sixers added players that are likely to drastically improve their team compared to the minor moves made by the Nets.

Top pick of the 2016 draft Ben Simmons has the best odds to win rookie of the year and his teammate Joel Embiid has the fourth best odds according to this oddsshark.com article. Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, the 2015 and 2016 top pick of the draft, both scored at least 16 points per game. With the 2015-16 Sixers’ leading scorer Jahlil Okafor averaging 17.5 points per game and former Sixer Ish Smith as their second leading scorer with 14.7 points per game, Simmons — who averaged 19.2 points per game in college — should become one of the Sixers’ top scorers and drastically improve their offense. While the Nets’ top scorer Brook Lopez scored more points per game than any player on the Sixers last season with 20.6 points, recently signed Jeremy Lin is likely to be their second highest score averaging 11.7 points per game last season.

One way to judge which team is likely to be better is to compare what people think of each team nationally. SI.com’s offseason grades for the Atlantic Division gave the Sixers an A. Here was the rationale:

“With Simmons needing time to find his NBA footing and so many future draft picks still in the pipeline, Philadelphia did well this summer to prioritize an organic rebuilding process over a rush job. At the same time, the Sixers added multiple hole-plugging veterans on reasonable contracts who should help this year’s group avoid the ultra-ugly embarrassing campaigns that came to define the Hinkie era. Good stuff.”

The Nets got a C- for their offseason grade with SI believing the Nets could be a worse than last season.

“After so many years of risky and/or expensive moves, Brooklyn’s boring summer practically feels like a relief. At the same time, this is still an organization that could very well take a step back after a 21-win season despite the presence of numerous vets in its rotation. In other words, this is a new flavor of awful, but it’s still awful. On the bright side, Marks didn’t shoot himself in the foot right off the bat, which counts as a promising sign in an environment where expectations really couldn’t fall any lower.”

Cbssports.com’s ranking of all NBA starting lineups for the 2016-17 season had the Nets ahead of the Sixers. The Sixers’ starting lineup was ranked 30 out of 30 teams, with a projected lineup of Sergio Rodriguez, Gerald Henderson, Robert Covington, Ben Simmons, and Jahlil Okafor.

The Nets were ranked one spot higher than the Sixers at 29 with a projected lineup of Jeremy Lin, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Luis Scola, and Brook Lopez. Cbssports.com’s power rankings that used the entire team and not just the starting lineup still had the Sixers ranked 30th, but the Nets improved to 28th. Todaysfastbreak.com predicted the Sixers and Nets would both have 17 wins and 65 losses, but had the Nets one spot ahead of the Sixers at 29. Our preseason power ranking by Bret Stuter sees the Sixers being a slightly better team than the Nets. The Nets were ranked 28th, while the Sixers were ranked 25th.

While I probably wouldn’t have the Sixers ranked as high as Bret, I do believe the Sixers will end the 2016-17 season with a better record than the Nets. I expect the Nets to start the season with a better record than the Sixers due to having better veteran players, but I expect the Sixers’ young players to improve as the season goes along and that will result with them having a slightly better record.