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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and and February: 21. Philadelphia 76ers

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th) :  22-34 (fifth place, Atlantic Division)  

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)
  • Points Scored: 91.8 (30th)
  • Points Allowed: 95.8 (7th)
  • Team FG%: .439 (23rd)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .449 (16th)
  • Team FT%: .720 (25th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .350 (19th)
  • Rebounds per game: 41.4 (20th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 44.1 (26th)
  • Turnovers per game: 12.8 (2nd)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.2 (20th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)
  • Scoring (ppg): Jrue Holiday (19.1)
  • Rebounds per game:  Thaddeus Young (7.8)
  • Minutes per game: Jrue Holiday (38.4)
  • Assists per game: Jrue Holiday (8.6)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Thaddeus Young (.513)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Nick Young (.810)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Nick Young (.360)
  • Steals per game: Thaddeus Young (1.6)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Spencer Hawes (1.3)
Worst Player of the Month: Who to pick?

That's right: who on this poor pathetic excuse of a team can be picked as the worst of the month since there is no one who really stands out?  Even then, can the players on the roster really be blamed for this disastrous season?  They have played their hearts out, but have been simply out-manned, outmatched, and simply outclassed.  Management has to take a huge portion of the blame as they are the ones who have assembled the team in the first place.  Their roster choices left little to be desired resulting in the train wreck that Sixers fans have been forced to witness.  
First Player of the Month: Jrue Holiday

Through this rather challenging season, there has been only one constant--one sole bring light on what has been a rather dismal season--and his name is Jrue Holiday.  Holiday has been the Sixers' anchor as he has been doing his best to keep his sinking ship afloat until the regular season comes to a close. Despite the poor performance and low standing of his team, Holiday still managed to get recognized for all his efforts by being selected to the Eastern Conference All Star team.  With him becoming a free agent come July, the team not only has to worry about losing Holiday to the market and also add pieces enticing enough to keep Holiday from straying from the City of Brotherly Love.  Most certainly in this point in his career, Holiday does not want to be part of yet another rebuilding project so it will be interesting what moves the Sixers' front office will make once the season ends.  

After such a disastrous season, the question on everyone's minds who have followed and cheered for the Philadelphia 76ers for the past couple of years is where do they go from here?  After a strong start in November, the 76ers slipped and slid downwards in December to finally crash and burn at the end of February.  Right now the coach staff and front office have been sifting through the wreckage trying to find something salvageable through all the wreckage.  From all accounts, there is little of what remains from a team that had been considered as one of the most pleasant surprises in the NBA and a fan favorite for  underdog team of the year.  So much was expected from this team that it reached a point of becoming completely unrealistic thus resulting in all involved to do about face to reevaluate the direction of this team and to set a new course for the direction of this franchise for as we have all just seen, there are currently headed nowhere fast.

The first and most important question for those in the Sixers organization is simply what to do with Andrew Bynum, whose contract will expire once the season ends resulting him in becoming an unrestricted free agent?  This certainly had to be the most frustrating and vexing dilemma Philly has possibly faced in the entire history of the franchise--they posses a player who last season played like a bonafide All Star, but was sidelined for the following season due to a deteriorating chronic condition that looks as if it will never get better anytime soon.   From what has been reported by numerous sources, it looks like as if this 25 year old basketball prodigy who had so much potential will have his once blossoming career cut tragically short.  With what has been mentioned, the Sixers may have to make the rather difficult decision to cut Bynum loose--the same player who they had given up so much to bring to Philly in the first place.  Granted, they benefited greatly by being able to rid themselves of the onerous and bloated contract of an overrated and grossly overpaid Andre Iguodala, but Philly still made a terrible gamble in bringing in Andrew Bynum because they had so much riding on him to play this season.

For starters, upon glancing at the roster, one can certainly see that it was mainly constructed to build upon the notion that Bynum would be the centerpiece of this new Philly team.  The Sixers' front office spent much of the teams resources signing players that complement the hobbled big man by primarily adding perimeter centric players and did absolutely nothing to bolster the team's rather slim and weak front court.  They also added players who were poorly efficient on the offensive end, did not demonstrate the best common sense and been reputedly poor on the defensive end which is considered a primary staple to the 76ers success of the past couple of years.  Both Nick Young and Dorell Wright have been complete busts upon arriving to the city of brotherly love as Young's offensive output has been erratic at best and Wright, who prides himself on his perimeter shooting, has simply been a complete no-show.  Add along washed up has-beens such as Jason Richardson and Kwame Brown along with a bunch of useless spare parts and one can see why the 76ers are in such dire straights.

The team's future now essentially rests on the shoulders of three players who, save for one of them, would not have otherwise been tabbed by any team as key building blocks for a playoff contender, let alone a championship.  The first of these players is Thaddeus Young, a rather undersized power forward who lacks the speed, quickness, shooting range or ball handling capabilities to play him in the more suitable small forward spot where he belongs.  The Sixers made a big investment signing him on for four seasons to the tune of 36$ million dollars thus making him a long term investment who offers rather limited returns.  The second is none other than Evan Turner who the Sixers selected second overall in the NBA Draft two years ago and has yet to prove himself to be worthy of such an honor and responsibility. His rookie year was simply a disaster while his second was rather nondescript to say the least and although Turner has been currently having his best season thus far posting career highs in scoring (13.2), rebounds (6.3), and assists (4.3) per game, his overall game still remains rather shaky for anyone to think that he is destined for greater things.

The only player who looks anywhere near ready to carry the burden to lead the team into the next few years is one whose numbers reflect more on his increased playing time and shot attempts more than his actual ability to lead a team.  Not to diminish him or his contributions to the team in any manner--Jrue Holiday has been an amazing player and has thus far proven that he is a truly among one of the elite point guards in the league; however, is he and will he ever be good enough to anywhere worthy of being franchise player material?  From what can be assessed from his performance and correlating that with the overall performance of his team, the answer is sadly no.  There is no doubt that he has the gift in term of his ability to score in bunches,  protect the ball on offense and get his teammates quality looks at the basket; however, everybody who follows the team and league along with the Sixers front office and coaching staff would have to agree                      
that Holiday is simply not the answer.  If anything, he was to be the perfectly complementary pieces to their immense off season prize of acquiring Andrew Bynum; unfortunately, however, that plan has seemed to have fallen at the waist side.

Fortunately there is still a glimmer of hope for this 76er team as it will be blessed with plenty of cap space once Bynum's contract comes off the books which the team's management can use in getting a more dependable and reliable commodity in the form of unrestricted free agents such as Utah's Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap, and Atlanta's Josh Smith.  They also have short term and affordable contracts in their possession in which they can use to possibly strike a trade or two and get more solid players to surround their burgeoning star in Jrue Holiday.  All they have to do is simply endure the trails of the next couple of months until the regular season comes to a merciful close and then they can go on and start to rebuild off this failed experiment that this season can be categorized as.  As long as they do not do anything stupid such as offer a contract extension to a gimpy big man with arthritic knees and use their well earned cap space wisely, the Sixers will be fine.   And as everyone looks forward to the draft and the following season, it will just be a great weight off everyone's shoulders once this disastrous season finally comes  to a close.