If you have followed the Sixers so far this preseason, you know that we blew a 7 point lead with 14 seconds left against the Nets and narrowly beat the Celtics, who were without their entire starting 5. I guess not too many people would know about the Celtics win considering the stadium was practically empty (I was one of about 2,000 people in the building). But thats besides the point. I guess its asking too much of fans to support a below average team in the preseason, especially while the rest of the Philly sports teams are actually relevant. Oh well. I still care. In fact, I care so much that I decided to share with the world what we need to take away from this preseason. Enjoy…
1. Jrue Holiday is really, really good
– I’m going to try and not exaggerate at all during this piece. But watching him these past few games has made it pretty hard not to. Jrue has struggled shooting the ball at times, but every other aspect of his game is on point. Jrue runs the pick and role as well as anyone in basketball who isn’t named Steve Nash, his defense is reminds me of a young Gary Payton, and he is proving himself to be an excellent leader (Okay, so I exaggerated a little). But the sky is the limit for our young point guard, and I think this is the guy we need to be building our future around.
2. Evan Turner isn’t a bust… Yet
– I was as high on Turner as anyone when we drafted him #2 overall in the draft, but things haven’t exactly gone smoothly. Turner struggled through the summer league, and hasn’t looked much better in the preseason. As my father put it last night, “Even his pump fakes are wimpy.” Turner looks nervous, almost as if hes playing not to make a mistake. And in doing so, he’s making plenty of them. Not only is he turning the ball over, but he’s making mental mistakes as well. Turner wants to be a star, and he will work as hard as anyone to get there, but it will be a process, and fans have to stay patient with him.
3. Thaddeus Young has no place on this team
– This one pains me a little. I like Thaddeus and I like his game, but without a true position, he often looks lost within our offense. Our roster is full of tweeners and big guys who play on the perimeter, and Young has trade value. I say we cut ties and add either a draft pick, or a player with some toughness. Try telling me Toronto wouldn’t give us back Reggie Evans and a second round pick for him.
4. A “Slimmer” Elton Brand doesn’t necessarily mean “Clippers” Elton Brand
– I’m not going to lie, he looks good. Brand is back in basketball shape for the first time since arriving in Philly. He looks a little quicker and more athletic than he’s been the past two years. But he isn’t the same player that he was, and he’s certainly not the player we paid for. I’m not hating on Elton, because that wouldn’t be fair. Hes been through a lot and he’s a hard worker. He’s just not that good anymore.
5. Somehow, someway, Doug Collins needs to find minutes for Jason Kapono
– I could list any number of reasons why Eddie Jordan is a bad basketball coach, but no argument I could make is as strong as this one. Kapono is one of the best pure shooters of all time, and Eddie Jordan let him rot on the bench. Last night against Boston, and again tonight against Toronto, Kapono’s shooting changed the momentum of the game. Sure, he is a liability on defense, but so is every other player not named Jrue or Andre on the Sixers. Kapono needs to be a bigger part of this team if they are going to have success. (Another reason why trading Thaddeus makes sense)
6. Our bench is better than our starting lineup
– I don’t mean that if the two units play 5 on 5 that the bench will win. What I’m saying is this… Compared to the other 29 teams in the league, we have one of the worst starting lineups, and one of the best benches. That means that in order to win games, Lou Williams and the rest of the bench crew needs to step it up, night in and night out.
7. The Sixers will be better than last year, but not by much
– For those of you who know me, I like to form an opinion, stand by it, and defend it as well as I can. But there’s an exception to every rule. All summer, and into the preseason, I’ve been saying that the Sixers are a playoff team, and that last season was the result of poor coaching. It’s too early to completely go back on that, but its looking like we’re in for another rough season. Doug Collins inherited a group with average talent, low basketball IQ’s, and lack of toughness. Stefanski didn’t do enough this offseason to change the culture here in Philadelphia, and it will unfortunately show in the standings. Lottery, we’ll be seeing you soon.