What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Saturday, January 5, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 10. Philadelphia 76ers

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  9-6,  third place Atlantic Division


8
This Month:
10
Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)
  • Points Scored: 92.2 (26th)
  • Points Allowed: 93.4 (7th)
  • Team FG%: .422 (26th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .436 (7th)
  • Rebounds per game: 41.3 (19th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 44.9 (28th)
  • Turnovers per game: 12.3 (2nd)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 15.4 (12th)


Individual Statistical Leaders (as of November 30th)


Worst Player of the Month:  Andrew Bynum


Sure, some may say that it is unfair to label Bynum as the team’s worst player because he has yet to play a game; however, that is the precise reason why he should be named.  The Sixers are banking their entire future on a 25 year old big man who has shown that he has the goods to be a franchise player, but has the injury record of a player ten years older.  What’s worse is that he will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and eligible for a massive max level contract extension.  Thus the Sixers find themselves between a rock and a hard place:  should they risk investing on a player who has yet to play for them, but has such an extensive resume (2 NBA Titles and an All Star selection) that they would look like fools if they let him go?  The Sixers’ future for next five or six years has essentially been held hostage as it depends on the speculation on whether or not Bynum will be the impact player they envision making the possession of Bynum less of a blessing and more of a curse.   

First Player of the Month: Jrue Holiday


This is an obvious answer since Jrue Holiday currently leads the 76ers in scoring, assists and minutes played.  He has essentially become Philly’s de-facto leader after the departure of Andre Igoudala to the Denver Nuggets and he has certainly proven that he is a worthy successor to the throne.  Holiday has certainly silenced his doubters on whether or not he can run an offense and become a solid facilitator for his teammates as he is currently ranks third in the league in Assists per game behind notable All Stars Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul.  It is because of his leadership that the 76ers are currently 9-6 to start the season and with the eventual arrival of big man Andrew Bynum on the floor, Philly will become a force to be reckoned with in the league.  Unfortunately, with Bynum sidelined for an indefinite amount of time, all that can be done is speculation of a possible future that may or may not arrive making Holiday’s efforts even more important to his team. 

Analysis:

The 76ers have picked up where there left off last season silencing their doubters and detractors.  Sure they do not have the most talented teams, but what they lack in talent they make up for in heart and desire.  In what can be considered as one of, if not THE toughest division in the league, Philly has managed to hold its own against three of the NBA's top teams and do not nearly boast as much talent as their three division rivals--the Boston Celtics, the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets.  All the credit has to be given to head coach Doug Collins, who for the second straight season has been denied the Coach of the Year Award despite making a team of underwhelming scrappy players into one of the most dangerous teams in the league.  And by the look of things, Collins will continue to defy expectations as his Sixer team posted a rather impressive start finishing November with a 9-6 record.

The Sixer's season started with a slight hiccup as they lost two of their first three games losing both consecutively to the current Atlantic Division leading New York Knicks (11/4, 11/5); however, Philly bounced back winning their next three against as they beat the New Orleans Hornets (11/7/2012), their division rival Boston Celtics (11/9/2012) and the Toronto Raptors (11/10/2012).  They would unfortunately drop the next two games against the Central Division leading Milwaukee Bucks (11/12/2012) followed by falling to the Detroit Pistons (11/14/2012), but would bounce back yet again winning three in a row and finish November winning six of their last eight game.  And all of this comes from a team that is greatly outmatched by their opponents in terms of size and with no real legitimate post presence.  Right now the Sixers have been performing at such a high level as they wait for their secret weapon to finally arrive who will transform this team into a bunch of hearty scrappers into a true championship contender.  This "secret weapon" comes in the form of All Star and two time NBA championship big man, Andrew Bynum, who will give Philly probably its greatest big man since Moses Malone and once he returns from rehabbing his injuries, all of the Sixers' oppoents better watch out!!

Bynum's arrival will enhance an already strong 76er squad who has seen three of their young players emerge into elite caliber players.  Jrue Holiday, after years of being under the huge shadow of Andre Igoudala has burst into the scene becoming Philly's number one guy leading the team in scoring, assists and minutes played.  Sixers fans have also witnessed the ascension of Thaddeus Young, who for most of career came off the bench, finally getting his chance to start and has put up rather impressive number being second on the team in scoring averaging a little over 15 per game while leading the team in rebounds as well.   The greatest improvement, however, has come from a player who many deemed as a draft day bust after have a very nondescript couple of seasons after being picked second overall in the 2010 NBA Draft.  Evan Turner has redeem himself as he has exploded this season posting career highs is scoring (14.9), rebounds  (7.4) and assists (4.2) while shooting a phenomenal .458 from beyond the arc.

Put these three young rising stars next to an already established big man in Andrew Bynum, the Sixers with have a four player core that will contend for the Eastern Conference crown for years to come as all four players currently range from 25 years old and under.  Add the fact that these four guys will be supported by one of the league's deepest rosters makes Philly an even more dangerous foe.  It consists of veteran swingman Jason Richardson, two young and athletic wings in Dorell Wright and Nick Young, a sturdy young work horse of a big man in Lavoy Allen, and possily one of the league's best back up centers in Spencer Hawes.  Once at full strength, this young and talent Philadelphia 76ers team might even prove to be a dark horse spoiler to not only win the Eastern Conference, but also represent it in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1999.  This current team can also be even potentially stronger than the one of the greatest Sixers teams to ever grace the court that consisted of hall of famers, Julius "Dr. J" Irving, Maurice Cheeks, and Moses Malone.

However everything hinges on the arrival of Andrew Bynum on the roster, because without him, Philly is greatly outmatched and this exceptional 9-6 start will soon go up in smoke.  One can see how much of a heavy a toll missing Bynum has weighed on this young Sixer team.  Despite earning that winning record to start the season, it is still early and the Sixers have shown signs of wearing down.  In all their games in November, their opponents have shown a slight advantage in the areas of rebounding and shooting despite being held to under 94 points per game in November making it seem all but inevitable that the Sixers will collapse.  With a rather tough stretch heading into December, they could easily drop every game save for let's say for the sake of argument, four games, dropping them from up and coming contender to a struggling team barely treading water.