NBA Pre-season win predictions: Eastern Conference, Atlantic Division

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Oct 23, 2015; Manchester, NH, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel (4) talks to forward Jerami Grant (R) during the second half against the Boston Celtics at Verizon Wireless Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers

Last season: 18 – 64

This season: 28 – 54

It’s hard to imagine being a 76er fan. While they wait (and wait, and wait) for their GM, Sam Hinkie, to deliver something resembling a team, they are treated to more excitement in the off-season than the regular one. Another top-3 draft pick…another project player.

Joel Embiid will sit out another season, so Nerlens Noel gets another year to improve, which he will do. This fellow is about 2 years away from an All-Star berth at centre. Behind him, but not very far, is rookie Jahlil Okafor. Why Hinkie wants 3 centres (assuming Embiid ever gets healthy) is beyond me.

Meanwhile, Nik Stauskas has a new opportunity to fire away from beyond the arc. Jerami Grant looks like he’s rounding into shape on the wing. Tony Wroten is the closest thing they have to an established scorer, but he’s inconsistent.

This youthful team will defend like crazy, which should keep their games close. Unlike the Knicks, who haven’t yet realized how behind the 8-ball they are, the 76ers are pointed in the right direction. But they won’t sniff a playoff berth with a lineup so bereft of quality swingmen and guards.

Next: Rebuilding time in Brooklyn