You had the feeling this was coming, right? I did for sure.
Several of the reports on Doug Collins and Rod Thorn’s press conference mentioned the coach’s remarks on Evan Turner’s confidence. Without digging too deep on the question at hand (and how Doug knew of Evan’s confidence), he mentioned that one of the keys to getting the team together will be working with a new starting threesome on the perimeter – one that failed to materialize as promised last season. Here’s Dei Lynam’s story on CSN Philly’s website (and you can get the same word from several of these stories, this is the one that happened to inspire this post):
Collins is laying the groundwork for a lineup change that will have Turner join Iguodala and Holiday as starters on the perimeter. Of course, the coach will hammer home that guys will compete in camp for playing time but this is one area of internal growth that has to be seen.
Whether it would work is a good question. Why they are changing a good thing (their current starting 1-3) is probably a better question.
The turning point of last year was the insertion of Jodie Meeks into the starting lineup – the team went 36-28 with him in the lineup, mainly because he provided something Holiday, Turner, Iguodala, Kapono, and Nocioni provided – a shooting threat who could also fill a role. Certainly there are better players than Jodie Meeks, but he just fits better than anyone we have on the roster with our other players. Basketball lineups are like Match Game, without the sexual undertones and cigars.
So why are we going back? With a condensed season, depth, I feel, will be more important than ever – cutting minutes for the top guys to keep them fresher and healthier will be important, especially with at least one back-to-back-to-back and tens of back-to-backs. Turner needs to take command of the basketball to succeed. Ditto for Turner and Iguodala. Why not bring Turner off the bench? He can play behind the top two, 24-28 minutes a night, until he proves he’s made the necessary improvements to play with the other two. I still see Meeks as the guy for the job as of now.
As of now, I can see only one way this works: if Jrue Holiday improves defensively, then maybe they can prevent enough scoring to offset the offensive offense. Iguodala is an all-NBA defender – we know this. Turner defended surprisingly well at both wing positions last year, keeping opponents to a sub-12 PER at both positions and a 46% opponent’s eFG% (effective field goal percentage: threes count as 1.5 FG). Holiday, meanwhile, has a stellar defensive reputation but little to back it up – allowing opponents to gain an 18.6 PER and 51% eFG%. While Turner and Iguodala excelled defensively, Holiday needs to put his potential to more work – Turner and Iguodala are not nearly as well-versed defensively against smaller guards. And since our backup is Lou Williams (or maybe not), who couldn’t care less about defense, Holiday will need to shoulder the load.
If we have three defensive standouts on the perimeter, the game could feature such low scoring that it won’t hurt us at all. Of course, rarely do teams have three big-time threats on the perimeter at one time – most feature one or two, with shooters or other specialists alongside. You know, kind of like our lineup from before, which worked better than this one has before or seems to have to potential for.
So why are we having this debate again?