Sunday, March 11, 2012

What the Sixers Should Do Before March 15 Deadline

Although LouWill is a scorer, he's made it quite clear
that he doesn't play Doug Collins type of basketball.
As the trade deadline nears and the playoffs grow closer, Sixer nation finds itself evaluating this 76ers squad --now fourth in the Eastern conference-- for a playoff push. This team is certainly better than those of the last three playoff chases which all ended in the first round, but is this team actually contender? As it stands right now, I think not. The Sixers have two gaping holes in their roster: a late game closer (as I wrote about here, I don't believe fan favorite Lou Williams is "the answer", and I would like to see him traded), and a defensive minded center. Now, to fill both by the trade deadline would be a dream scenario, but filling either makes this an entirely different team. To fill one, though, is not out of the question in the least. The routes the Sixers could take to arrive at the March 15th deadline are numerous.

Despite the slump that the Sixers are currently getting over, the team hasn't looked this good since Allen Iverson's departure. This, however, does not change the fact that the Sixers haven't filled the void he left as the sure firer scorer that could be counted on in any situation. With all of the talent on this team, their scoring is most certainly there...for about 40 minutes. Overall, they rank 19th in 4th quarter scoring. Since the Sixers rank 17th in overall scoring, this seems reasonable. With 21 different games ending with 10+ point differentials, that number can get very distorted, though.

A much more relevant statistic, is that 13 of their 17 losses have come with being a 5 point game before the half way point of the 4th quarter. This is due to --as mentioned above -- the lack of a true late game scorer and defensively skilled big man.

Before I start to speculate as to the possible candidates to fill the vacant roles, I'm going to lay down the ground rules the Sixers need to follow if they don't wish to place a detriment on them selves. Any trade the Sixers make should be beneficial for years to come, as this team is not yet ready for an all or nothing playoff run, and the following players should not be traded, as their value for the Sixers will not be matched by the offers they're given: Jrue Holiday (he has the capability of being a franchise player, and I believe he can coexist with Turner and Iguodala), Andre Iguodala, Craig Brackins (just kidding...but, seriously. when will they "RELEASE THE BRACKINS!"), and Thaddeus Young.

But, they are getting close to making such a playoff push.

Despite his slow career start, coach Collins
is adamant that Turner is ready to prove why
he was taken with the second overall pick
For a late game scorer, the Sixers could look almost anywhere, including their own lineup. Again, not Lou Williams, but Evan Turner. By reputation --before it was tarnished by his rookie year and his slow first half to this season-- Turner was a freak when it came to scoring at Ohio State: averaging over 20 points a game his senior year despite a freak accident that cause him to break his back. The organization is well aware of his potential, which is why coach Collins has instilled him in the starting lineup. After a rough first start against the Milwaukee Bucks where the entire team struggled offensively, Turner has torched the Celtics and the Jazz: shooting 58% from the floor while averaging 21 points and 10.5 rebounds a game; Both of these games were blowouts, though, so he hasn't had an opportunity to show his ability to finish close games as a starter quite yet. Still, the organization knows what he's capable of more than anyone else, and they will make any moves accordingly. Other than him, Jrue Holiday has shown he can score, but has struggled getting the ball and attacking this season, so at least for now, he's not the answer.

Outside of their own roster, the Sixers can still find many suitors. Although predicting a deal is too speculative for my taste, there are some available scorers that are currently being shopped. Guards like Kevin Martin, O.J. Mayo --despite popular opinion, when given the chance, the kid can score (see Memphis Grizzlies playoff run, 2011)--,  and Eric Gordon can all solve the Sixers late game shooting woes. They all offer contractual problems that could scare away the Sixers, though. For Martin, the 11 million he's due throughout this season and the 12 million + he's due next season is a tad much for the Sixers to commit without solving their big man problem first. As for Gordon and Mayo, their contracts expire after this season, and unless the Sixers would guarantee either of their resignings before executing a trade, than there's a huge risk that they give up assets for nothing. In this sport, though, there are always surprises at the deadline, so don't be shocked if the Sixers make a deal for a player you never considered.

My surprise pick? Paul George. This would only happen in a multi-team deal, as they need a superstar more so than the Sixers (despite what you think, Danny Granger is not an All-Star), which, speaking redundantly, the Sixers do not have. They do, however, want to bolster their big man rotation, which is a desire that the Sixers could satisfy. What I don't see is George and Turner playing on the same team. The only reason I would prefer George over Turner is that he is already a proven scorer, versus Turner who is just now finding his scoring ability. Turner is thought to be the better defender, but in my opinion, it's a lot closer than people think (despite Dwayne Wade sinking a game winning shot over him last night). If the Sixers truly are all-in on Turner as they have suggested all week, than this deal cannot happen.

As for a bigman, the Sixers need a defensive minded one. Yes, Spencer Hawes improves the front court defense --though much less than his effect on the front court offense -- if he can get healthy, but that's completely based on his size -- not skill -- and he's shown over his young career that injuries will follow him regardless of the type of output he's producing. For me, watching Eddie Tim Duncan and Dirk go untouched by the Sixers defense in the 4th quarter after doing virtually nothing in the first 3 quarters was enough evidence that they needed an upgrade, but for those that live and die by the numbers, the Sixers have allowed a big man to surpass 20 points in 17 of their 41 total games, and allowed David Lee, Roy Hibbert, and Luis Scola to go for 19. Including those 3 and the 17 other instances, David Lee and Greg Monroe were the only two repeat offenders: which means the Sixers have allowed 18 different big men to score 19 or more points, when they've only faced off against 58 different starting big men: a ratio of nearly a third.

Chris Kaman may not be right for the Sixers,
but he still looks like the killer from a terrible
90's horror movie.
Again, the Sixers could take I95 or Route 1 (different roads...get it?) to get a big man. Big men such as Zach Randolph (he must first pass a physical before being officially traded), Chris Kaman, and  Josh Smith have all been documented as being shopped around, but the Sixers might not risk shaking up this team chemistry for respective reasoning: Randolph has been known to be a selfish player --which coach Collins would have absolutely nothing to do with --, Chris Kaman has a huge, expiring contract (he could very well wish to sign back, but if they really want him, they should seek him out in the off season), and Josh Smith isn't the inside presence on offense they need at the power forward role.

Obviously, Dwight Howard would fit nearly any team he signs with, but -- sorry, Philly -- he's not signing here. This city has great marketing potential, but he hasn't really seen it a midst the half full Wells Fargo center crowds he has played in front of. Trading for him would also require dealing away large pieces of the team that plays as a collective, which would completely rattle the chemistry.

A center I could see the Sixers dealing for is JaVale McGee (averaging over 2.5 blocks per game) of the Wizards. There hasn't been much said about he or the Wizards desiring a trade, but it just makes sense: He hates playing there, which has been made very clear by his comments all season (which have been downright hilarious). A player of his caliber -- and make no mistake, the dude's elite -- that wears his emotions on his sleeves can easily suffer statistically when he's not getting the play he deserves. That could be the reason his play has been a slight let down this season, or most likely, his multiple benchings for "show boating." I know what you're thinking, "Collins would never deal with a player that's so unprofessional! You're a buffoon (yeah, people still use that word...)!"

Yeah, JaVale. I'd complain too.
Has he really done anything that bad though? Oh, no! He complains about a bad team that has only gotten worse in every season of his career! He feuds with team killers like Andray Blatche! Even so, under a coach like Doug Collins, who loves flashy dunks (see Iguodala, Andre), he wouldn't need --nor have reason-- to "act out."

The Wizards are a rebuilding team, and McGee, though young, will ask for a deal close to the maximum level, and he may even get it. And who knows, maybe playing for a contending team that fits his fast paced style of play will motivate the young giant, who already puts up double figure points and rebounds on a near nightly basis, so long as he get's the playing time. But hey, I might just be wishing here.

Regardless of what goes down for the Sixers in the next few days, they need to remember the recent moves  they've made when trying to make "the next step." As I don't need to remind you, they traded for and took on the horrendous contract of Chris Webber, and signed Elton Brand to a contract that became one of the worst value deals in the league. This team already has most of the pieces required to compete for years to come, but they can be a top rated contender as long as management can complete the team (and I put more emphasis on this word than any in statement in this article) correctly...As if it were that easy.

So, in a challenge to Sixers president Rod Thorn I say, surprise everyone who doesn't think the Sixers are front runners for the top players mentioned in trade talks, and get a deal done.

-With love,
                      every eager Sixer die-hard.


  1. While he does fit the Sixers style of play, I don't think he and Iguodala can coexist.

  2. I didn't thin ET and Dre could co-exist.... dangle EB's expiring contract and True Holiday for J Smooth, then trade a bag of chips for O.J. Mayo(Memphis owes us one for the starting power forward we sent him).......

    PG- ET
    SG - Mayo
    SF - Iggy
    PF - J Smooth
    C - Hawes

    going small...

    PG- ET
    SG - Mayo
    SF - Iggy
    PF - Thad
    C - J Smooth


    See if Hawks will bite on Louis Williams and EB's expiring for J Smooth... Lou is going to opt out at the end of the season anyway.... Then we can keep True at the 2 (great set shooter) and bring O.J. Mayo off the bench...

    going small....

    1. Elton Brand has an option after this season that he's surely going to pick up...And Josh Smith could never play center, he's actually a natural SF that was forced into the PF role. Likewise for Horford, who is a natural PF but plays center. As for the Grizzlies "owing" us anything, well it's a business, and what's done is done. They'll never give out a discount, even if they did get the better of the Sixers in the trade. If things like that existed, than Sacramento would be giving us favors left and right because of Webber's contract that we took off their hands.