Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back and Better Than Last Year...Maybe

The 2009-2010 NBA Season is upon us, and your Philadelphia 76ers are about to take the court. What's that? You don't care? Too bad, we're going to preview this team whether you like it or not.

This years' team may not be as good as the one on the far right, but their jerseys are the same! So here comes everything you need to about this years' Sixers squad, roundtable style!

1) After firing former Sixers legend Maurice Cheeks, the front office went out and tapped Eddie Jordan as the new coach. What impact do you see him having on this (mostly) young Sixers team?

[Wetz] His biggest impact will be on the offensive end, where the Princeton Offense should help them score in the half court more consistently, something they haven't been able to do in years. While Jordan has never been known for teaching defense, this team has been good defensively for awhile now, so that should remain relatively consistent. I like giving him the opportunity to groom Holiday in this offense, something that could pay long-term dividends for this team. Iguodala should also flourish in this offense, with his ability to cut and pass.

[Maurice] Although I was named after Maurice Cheeks (true story), he wasn't the right coach for this team. The Sixers completely lacked the ability to score in the half court, so almost any change is good here. Additionally, Eddie Jordan went to Rutgers. I went to Rutgers. I like this decision.

[Chris] A positive one, but it miracles won't happen all at once. Jordan himself has said "it might take until Thanksgiving before his team can execute the offense." Good things will come down the road, but not without some certain growing pains.

2) Most people expected Elton Brand to lead this team to a #3 or #4 seed last year, giving the Celtics a run for their money in the East. That didn't happen and Brand missed most of the year due to a shoulder injury. What do you see from him this year?

[Maurice] Elton Brand is set to have a breakout year get back to his old form. Luckily(?) his injury happened early, giving EB plenty of time to rehab and get in shape for this upcoming season. Additionally, Eddie Jordan -- who I still think looks like the drug dealing bad guy in a 70's Blaxploitation film -- has an offense that will keep the Sixers' half-court game more consistent, which will lead to more inside touches for the former Duke star. We have some good young forwards on this team, but Brand is still a cut above the rest.

[Chris] I'll continue the optimism and say that Brand will be just fine from a health stand-point. Because of his recent injury history, he won't see as many minutes per game as he did in '06-'07 (38:30), but something more in line with last season's 31:41. Don't expect an All Star season from Brand, he's not the same player he was a few years ago - but he will be a big contributor and an even bigger factor in where the Sixers place in the standings.

[Wetz] We'll know very quickly this season what we'll get from Elton Brand. Eddie Jordan realizes that this offense can't go through him, so that will help. I'm seeing him being a productive player, maybe 16 and 8, with a block or two a night. The scoring punch on this team is going to come from Williams, Iggy and Thad, so all Brand needs to do is be a rebounder and defender.

3) Is this finally the year that Andre Iguodala makes his long awaited all-star leap?

[Chris] Probably not. Iggy wasn't among the top 11 vote-getters in the Eastern Conference last year for guard or forward (depending how you classified his position). The All Star game is driven by fan votes, and it's sad to say that he is an after-thought in the typical fan's mind. Does his game warrant a selection? Yeah, I think so - he fills up a stat sheet and is a flashy player. But I just don't see a selection coming this year.

[Wetz] I honestly think Iggy can't make that leap, and I'm okay with that. Most players who make All-Star teams are one of two things: great players on great teams or great players on terrible teams. Iggy shares his stats too much, he distributes to others and never demands the ball. That makes it difficult to put up the stats (mainly points) that makes the public notice.

[Maurice] Iguodala is still a mid-range jump shot away from being an all-star caliber player. If he ever learns to knock down that shot consistently, maybe he could make the team. Until then....not so much.

4) Andre Miller left in free agency for Portland. Can we honestly expect shoot-first Lou Williams to lead this team at PG?

[Wetz] Um, no. While Lou Williams will certainly be listed at starting PG, I just don't see him developing into the Andre Miller, "court-leader" type. Consider that his per 36 minutes averages (which is the amount of minutes he'll likely be asked to play as the starting PG) from last year have him at just 4.5 assists to almost 16 FGA, it's probably never going to be in his game to pass first. But, honestly, that's not what I want from Lou. I want him scoring and breaking down a defense off the dribble, which is what he's best at anyway.

[Chris] I say 'yes' - but it's something that might not happen right away. His game couldn't be any more different than Andre Miller's and I'm completely fine with that. He'll develop into a better passer and see the court better as time goes on, but when the season tips, he'll always be looking to shoot first. What will hurt him more is his tendency to turn the ball over - if he can limit the turnovers, Lou-Will at the point will be a success.

[Maurice] A shoot-first turnover machine for a PG? Yeah, this looks real promising. Can we put Jrue Holiday in a time machine? Or maybe splice his DNA with that of, say, Magic Johnson? Wait, doesn't Magic still have HIV? Nevermind.

5)Does the "Princeton" offense suit this team?

[Chris] Could it? Yes. We have some good players who can slash towards the basket. But the real question is - Can Sammy D pass? The answer is a resounding 'no'. And crisp passing is kind of the point to the Princeton offense. As long as he's on the court, the experiment could end disastrously. Oh, and lets not forget - last I checked, we only have one legitimate 3-point threat (Kapono). The rest of the team needs to improve as 3-point shooters, because if your guys aren't a threat to hit the 3, this isn't going to work too well.

[Dave] That was my biggest concern with hiring Eddie Jordan, his offense just doesn't fit this teams personnel. When he was in Washington he had the 3-point shooters necessary to make the offense work, but the Sixers don't. I'm hoping that Jordan adjusts, let's this team run and only uses the Princeton offense when they HAVE to score in the half-court. But as Chris mentioned, the offense will need to run through Brand then, cause Dalembert is absolutely useless.

[Maurice] One thing these guys failed to mention: the Sixers now have THREE white players (up from last years' one). Princeton offense -- could work.

6)How will the Sixers get Thaddeus and Iggy on the court together, now that Brand is back and Iggy has shown he can't play shooting guard?

[Chris] Simple - keep Dalembert off the court and move Brand to center. Thaddeus can slide over to the 4 and Iggy can stay in the role he's most comfortable in. Besides, the fact Dalembert sucks helps make this decision that much easier.

[Maurice] Totally agree, take Dalembert off the court. And are we completely sure Iguodala can't play SG? Sure, he can't shoot, but he's a lock-down defender that has no problem matching up against opposing shooting guards. It's worth a shot; you've got plenty of games to test the waters and go with what works.

[Wetz] Honestly, I don't care what they do, just get Thad and Iggy on the court together. Their games mesh well together, Iggy can drive and kick and Thad is developing an very reliable outside shot (and cut and finish ability). Brand can probably play center sometimes, but I don't want him taking too much pounding from larger players. So they'll probably just have to play Iggy at shooting guard and live with the fact he doesn't have a jump shot.

7)Can the Sixers give the Celtics a challenge for the division crown?

[Maurice] Nope.

[Chris] Not a chance. The Sixers will be looking up at the Celtics from day one.

[Wetz] I fucking hate the Celtics.

8)Is there enough talent on the bench to match up with other, deeper East squads?

[Wetz] I like the addition of Jason Kapono, they desperately needed a knockdown shooter from the outside, so that should help. However, outside of Marreese Speights there isn't much to be excited about on the bench. Rookie Jrue Holiday is intriguing, but likely will play too little to have an true impact. So, while I think there is adequate depth, especially with Jason Smith's return, this team likely will need to stay healthy to match up with the Big 3 of Cleveland, Boston and Orlando.

[Chris] I have to agree totally with Wetz. As he said, health is going to be the key to this team. Outside of Kapono - a real nice addition in his own right - there isn't much in the way of veteran leadership or experience. Speights made great strides last year and will be a bright spot on Sixer squads to come.

[Maurice] These guys are right. Kapono is a great snag in the offseason, but there aren't any established bench players that really give me the confidence to say 'yes.' Marreese (God, do I hate that name) continues to show flashes, but it's going to take some time for the coaching staff and the rest of the roster to really trust his ability to come off the bench and make a difference.

9)How much does Samuel Dalembert blow?

[Maurice] Hard. You should already know how I feel about Sammy by this point.

[Wetz] Samuel Dalembert was blessed with incredible athleticism, speed and ability. However, he was born without a brain and his hands were fashioned out of concrete. At least his contract ends after next year, so he'll soon be a valuable trade piece for a contender looking for some added shot-blocking (or one that suffers an injury to a center).

[Chris] What more could I add to that? They've summed up Sammy D quite nicely. The best thing about Dalembert is his expiring contract.

10) The Sixers, while playing the Pistons and Magic tough, have made two-straight first round exits. Will 2009-2010 be any different?

[Maurice] My heart says yes, my brain says no. The Sixers will have to finish in the top 5 to avoid playing the Celtics, Cavs, or Magic in the first round...and I don't see that happening. With every passing season the East is getting stronger, and it's going to be difficult for a (still) young team with a new coach, new starting PG, and a half-filled Wachovia Center to secure that high of a playoff seed. I'm not saying it can't happen, it just doesn't seem likely. This team needs a full year together.

[Dave] I think at the end of the year there is a chance they'll be playing like a top 5 team in the East. However, I see a slow start hurting them, as well as the improvements of the Wizards and Hawks. Can they win 45 games? Absolutely, but they'll need to push that number 48 to get the 5 seed like Maurice says. If we get a crazy breakout season from Thad or Speights, who knows, but right now they aren't good enough to get there.

[Chris] Mark me down for what they're having. Couldn't agree more with the Maurice and Wetz. The team isn't good enough to get a seed high enough to avoid playing one of the Big 3. They'll certainly be a playoff team, but it will not be an easy road. We all may have to endure at least one more 'one-and-done' season.


  1. You all said Eddie Jordan was a good choice and will help the offense, then said that we don't have the players for the offense to succeed.

    That makes a lot of sense.

  2. don't put words in my mouth. I said the white players would help.

  3. They have good pieces for the Princeton offense - but aren't in the ideal personnel situation. Given a year, they'll be okay. Jordan will help mold this young team, but not without some initial growing pains.