Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Open Door In Philadelphia




The Philadelphia 76ers made a smart move. After years of standing pat, the 76ers grabbed life by the horns and took a chance by trading longtime starter Andre Iguodala, for star center Andrew Bynum. The ceiling of the Andre Iguodala era in Philadelphia reached it’s peak this past season, when Iguodala and Philadelphia took Boston to a seventh game in the eastern conference semifinals. On top of that, it seemed like Philadelphia saw this day coming in 2010, when the Sixers took Evan Turner with the second overall pick.

After an offseason of questionable moves (The drafting of Moe Harkless, the amnesty of Elton Brand, the Spencer Hawes extension) the Sixers completely turned their franchise around with the addition of Bynum. Now, the Sixers go from this team with no superior scorer, to one of the best low-post big men in the league. This allows Philadelphia to hunker down, and throw the ball into the post when things seem bleek, and I’m sure Bynum is ready for the challenge.

In Los Angeles, Andrew Bynum had ups and downs. From the rookie who Kobe Bryant wanted out, to the injured center, to a center on multiple championship teams, to the malcontent that seemed to be in the wrong position every time last season. It’s puzzling when your best season of your career is clouded by poor judgment, but that’s what Bynum had to deal with all last season. Again, last season was a great season for Bynum. Let’s look at it like this:
  • ·       18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 55% from the field
  • ·       All-Star starter in the West
  • ·       24.20 Efficiency Rating  (2nd among centers)
  • ·       23.01 PER Rating (2nd among centers)

While looking at those accolades and fancy numbers, and consider the fact he played with Kobe Bryant, who had 1000 more shots than any other player in the league, and Pau Gasol, who got his shot attempts as well. The 76ers also possess a young, talent point guard in Jrue Holiday, who compared to Derek Fisher and Ramon Sessions, should be able to find Bynum in various positions in the paint that could benefit him offensively. With Philadelphia, no one is stripping Bynum of shot attempts, and that could be a good or bad thing.

We’re roughly ten weeks away from the regular season, so it’s tough to envision Philadelphia’s offense, but while we do know who’s going to be the focal point, we don’t know the secondary characters for Philadelphia. For the Sixers’ sake, Evan Turner has to be the man to take charge. At six foot seven, Turner has all the tools to replace Andre Iguodala in terms of production, yet Philadelphia expects more from Turner, and it’s unclear if he can do that.

If Turner can do that, he and Jrue Holiday, could jump right into the middle of the pack in terms of the "best backcourts" in the league. Both players certainly have the defensive potential to shackle up older backcourts, but they also have size and speed to contend with the young backcourts. Even the potential issue of Philadelphia (who's going to better off the ball) is slightly figured out, thanks to Jrue Holiday's 38% from three-point range last season. 

What we do know about Philadelphia’s offense is the 76ers will be a better shooting team. After years and years of poor mid range and outside shooting, Philadelphia added Nick Young (37% from three-point range in 2011-2012), Jason Richardson (36%), and Dorell Wright (36%). All three players are capable to play both shooting guard and small forward positions, thus providing multiple lineups with outside shooting, something Philadelphia has lacked since the early 2000’s.

Philadelphia’s role in this season is to be determined, and we still have a ton of question marks about the team, but the top seems solidified. If the younger talents breakthrough, and the Turner/Holiday backcourt become dangerous, the Sixers will have an interesting top three, and probably a top four seed in the East. If the Holiday/Turner dynamic has a rocky road, and/or Bynum doesn’t live to the expectations of a number one player, the Sixers could still reach the playoffs, but severely disappoint in the regular season. 

Follow me on twitter at @QHaynesNBA (I'm currently taking a break from twitter) 
Photo credit: LA Times 

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