Tuesday, October 26, 2010
It’s that time of year: Halloween!!! Oh, and the NBA season starting, too. So, here’s a ridiculously in-depth player by player look into (at? on? around?) the 76ers. Coming off of a terrible season, there’s nowhere to go but up, right? Right??
At least Willie Green is gone. And expect a lot of talk about ball handling. No homo.
09-10 Year in Review:
Last year the Sixers finished 27-55, thanks to Eddie “I have no idea how to coach” Jordan attempting to implement a system that his players couldn’t run, and ultimately stunting the growth of every player on the team. Thaddeus Young and Mareese Speights both took huge steps backwards under the tutelage of coach brace-face, and Elton Brand remained the monumental bust that we were all afraid he would be.
But then, we finally got lucky and wound up with the 2nd pick in the draft! While the #1 pick would have been the franchise changing player we need (though we would have missed out on Jrue’s “I almost just lost my job” face at the lottery), we had the chance to pick up Evan Turner. Not only was Turner a 1st team All-American and National Player of the Year, he was also the consensus #2 pick in the draft and seemed to have attained can’t-miss status. And then…the summer league happened…and preseason…and now I’m seeing the Brandon Roy comparisons turn into Mike Miller comparisons. But I’ll get to that in a moment with my roster breakdown. For now let’s look at how the roster has changed heading into 2010-11.
Willie Green, SG – It is quite possible that the Sixers could add 4-5 wins to their total just because they don’t have this guy anymore. Willie Green is the worst player in basketball.
Samuel Dalembert, C – As much as I hate Sammy, his shot blocking will be missed on a team with zero interior defense. This guy may have the lowest basketball I.Q. in the country, and I’m counting people that don’t even watch basketball. For instance, you could walk into the closest hospital and find a new born infant with a higher basketball I.Q. Sammy is famous for goaltending, stealing rebounds from teammates, turnovers, showing up to practice late, forgetting to bring his sneakers, and making angry faces.
Rodney Carney, SF – I always liked Carney, but this isn’t much of a loss. Underrated defender though.
Jason Smith, C – I hated this guy, too. He never showed the mid-range prowess that he was supposed to have. There were flashes of potential during his rookie season, but after blowing out his knee he’s got nothing left. I did see him leaving the locker room last season with two smoking hot blondes. Good for you Jason, good for you.
Francisco Elson, C – who cares.
(I guess I could put Iverson here, but he checked out months before the season ended)
Evan Turner, G – Ok, so here’s my chance to panic, convince myself that everything will be ok, and leave you with cautious optimism. Evan Turner has looked terrible so far. Really, really, bad. Last week in a blowout win over the Knicks he played 19 minutes…and scored zero points. From what I’ve seen, he just doesn’t look very aggressive. You can tell that he has the skill to be a great NBA player. He was a terrific rebounder in college, and that always translates to the pros, and he has shown in the preseason that he can pass the ball. His shot looks pretty good, and at times he’s gotten to the line with ease. Why be worried? He hasn’t gelled with Iguodala and he looks lost without the ball in his hands. He might be more of a natural point guard than shooting guard, and that’s fine, but that’s not what we need. I don’t see the same competitive fire and aggressiveness that we saw from this guy at Ohio State. So where does the optimism come from? He has all of the skill needed to be a great player: high basketball I.Q, good form on his jumper, good court vision, good ball handler, etc. Somebody just needs to light a fire under this guy’s ass. That’s not going to happen on the bench, so if he isn’t in the starting line-up at the outset, hopefully he will be by December.
Andres Nocioni, F – Nocioni came over in the Dalembert trade and has been a solid rotation guy over the course of his career. I’d rather he didn’t take minutes away from Thad and Turner, but he’s a better all around player than Kapono and he’s a veteran. Expect 15-20 minutes a game and solid, but far from spectacular play.
Tony Battie, C – He’s getting old, but he’s a decent 5 minutes a game (on a bad team) type big man that won’t kill the team when he’s on the floor.
Spencer Hawes, C – I’ve always been somewhat of a Spencer Hawes fan, but after a promising second season, he didn’t progress like I thought he would last year. He’s a pretty bad defensive player, though he should be good for a block or two a game. Hopefully, the team can take advantage of his ability to stretch the floor with his shooting. If he can open up the lane for guys like Iggy and Jrue to drive to the hoop, then he might work out. He may or may not be the starting center, especially since he is dealing with back issues, but expect 20 minutes a game if he’s healthy, and closer to 30 if he plays well.
Craig Brackins, F – Brackins was a first round pick this year and we got him in the Willie Green trade. I don’t know too much about him, but from what I’ve read he has some upside. He average 16.5 ppg and 8.5 rpg on a terrible Iowa State team. He’s a little old for a rookie, at 23, but who the hell cares. I mean, we got rid of Willie Green. This guy could be the second worst player in basketball and it would be a great trade.
Darius Songaila, F – He stinks.
The rest of the roster:
Andre Iguodala, G/F – By now we all know what we’re getting from this guy. He would be a great #3 guy on a contender, but unfortunately he’s our #1 guy right now. Instead of rehashing what we already know, let’s try and figure out where he can improve. Step 1 would be to stop shooting threes. Iggy should only take jumpers when he’s open, but he loves to pull-up, yell “Kobe!”, and clank one off of the rim. For God’s sake, take advantage of your athleticism and drive to the basket! I understand that he doesn’t have the best ball-handling skills in the world, but he doesn’t have sloppy handles either. Go to the rim, get high percentage looks, and draw fouls. Step 2 is to stop thinking he is a superstar. I’m a little worried that playing for Team USA will hurt in this department, but hopefully it didn’t. Maybe his time as the “defensive stopper” of the squad will lead him to embrace that role. There is no reason he can’t find his way onto one of the All-Defense teams if he commits himself. He needs to realize his limitations and play to his strengths. And Step 3 is to be a leader. If he really wants to be a superstar, then he needs to take this role seriously. A major issue with this team for the past few seasons has been accountability. When one guy does something stupid, someone has to step up and tell them. When a guy misses his rotation on defense, someone has to call them out for it. Without accountability you have a bunch of guys that don’t care if they fuck up. They should care if they fuck up, because that’s bad. Andre can and should be that guy. Doug Collins can only do so much.
Elton Brand, F – Elton is set to make $15,959,099 this year. Yikes. He has slimmed down this year, so hopefully he can regain some of the explosiveness that made him one of the NBA’s top rebounders with the Clippers. He has yet to have a coach in Philly that knows anything about basketball, so maybe Doug Collins will do a better job of utilizing whatever he has left in the tank. It can’t possibly be running on empty, yet. Oh shit, the low fuel light came on.
Jrue Holiday, G – Jrue “Drew” Holiday is the #1 player to be excited about on this team. That’s right, even more than Turner. As the youngest player in the league last season, Jrue showed that he is already good enough to be a starting point guard in the NBA. That’s good because the Sixers play in the NBA. He was the top recruit in the country out of high school, and was compared to Dwyane Wade. Offensively, Jrue has deceptive quickness and is a terrific ball handler. He’s also proven to be a threat from downtown, shooting 39% from 3pt range last year. While I expect that to come down a little bit, he is one of the few guys on this team I trust from outside. He averaged 9.6 points and 4.7 assists as a starter last year, both numbers that I expect will go up. Something like 14 and 6.5 is achievable. Defensively, he has the potential to be one of the best in the league at his position. He has great size for a point guard, and his long arms and good anticipation create havoc in the passing lanes. Expect at least 1.5 steals a game. Don’t forget, this guy was compared to Dwyane Wade. DWYANE WADE. So even if he isn’t good, he should be able to convince the best player in basketball to join the team in a few years.
Thaddeus Young, F – Thad has spent a long time playing out of position in the NBA, and it’s affected him negatively. The good news is that he is still only 22 years old and his coach isn’t named Eddie anymore. Eddie? Really? Our coach was a grown man, with braces, named Eddie. Anyway, Thad’s FG% has dropped each year he’s been in the league. While more shot attempts usually lead to lower percentages, let’s hope he can get back to the 49% from 08-09. He hasn’t really shown the ability to create his own shot, but he has shown the ability to hit open shots and he crashes the offensive boards. Thad averaged just fewer than 2 o-boards a game last year. Lebron James averaged 0.9. Let’s call that a strength. The next step for Thad is being more assertive offensively. If he can start to create his own shots, and continues to score the “flow of the game” type buckets we’re used to, he’ll be deserving of a modest extension at seasons end.
Lou Williams, G – Lou put up career highs across the boards last season. He is the sixth man, and should still see 25 minutes a game. It seems like he’s been around forever, but he’s only 23, so there is still room for Lou to improve. He can score and plays well defensively, but he’s still a SG stuck in a PG’s body. In the right situation he could compete for Sixth Man of the Year. This probably isn’t that situation, but he’s still one of the best bench players in the league. Expect much of the same from Lou.
Jason Kapono, G/F – He shoots threes and does nothing else. And he has a fan club. White people are crazy.
Jodie Meeks, G – I like this guy. He can flat out score, and he’ll probably find his way into an NBA rotation sooner rather than later. Unfortunately for him, he probably won’t see the court much for this team.
Marreese Speights, F/C – Oh, Marreese. This guy should be on the NBA All-Tweets Team. But, as far as playing basketball, he continues to frustrate. At 23 years old, like most of this team, he’s still young. But he’s gotta show he can stick in the rotation this year, and the team is going to need him to play well. Speights may be the guy that Collins can help the most, because he really needs discipline. Let’s just say you won’t find his picture next to “mature” in the dictionary. And if it was there in some sort of ironic twist, he would have ripped it out to take a pic and tweet it. You could have just taken the pic while it was still in the dictionary, Marreese. He needs to step it up on the defensive end and learn how to play a more team oriented style of offense. Marreese can shoot, but he can’t pass. Or if he can, he just doesn’t. In a perfect world where he was focused on basketball, he would be an 18 and 8 type of guy. In this world? Let’s hope for 14 and 7. And would it kill you to get an assist?
I’ll keep this brief, because I’m as worn out as you are if you read this whole thing. The 76ers aren’t a very good team. They lack a go-to scorer or a low-post defensive presence. What they have is potential. With so much of the team 23 and under, there is reason to be optimistic about the future. However, they need to commit to the young guys and continue to struggle before they can get better. They need Evan Turner to be great, and they need another top 5 pick (preferably a big man) that is also great. I hate to be the guy that roots for a higher pick, but I’m just being realistic. If everything goes right for this team, they can hover right below .500, but I expect somewhere in the range of 28-34 wins. If Doug Collins can get anything more than that out of this team, he deserves a cookie.