In what may be a series, I’ll be looking at past rosters and asking this simple question: If all the players on that team were in their prime at the same time, would the Sixers be contenders? It’s an interesting question.
The season we’re looking at is the 2005-06 season. The top players are Allen Iverson, Chris Webber, and Andre Iguodala.
When the Sixers initially got Webber in a trade during the 04-05 season, Webber was pretty much coming off a terrible knee injury. Before then, he made a name for himself as one of the best Power Forwards in the league. Perhaps only Tim Duncan was better. You had Kevin Garnett in there too. Anyway, Webber had nice range on his jump shot. He had explosiveness to get by any other big man and then power to finish at the rim. Also, he was a good passer.
During his best years with the Sacramento Kings, the Kings were always seen as a contender. They faced one problem: The Lakers. Whenever the Kings faced the Lakers in the playoffs, it came out as a Kings loss. Basically, the Lakers dominated to the point that Webber never saw the finals. Still, his Kings were in the elite of the NBA year after year.
After his injury, it was clear Webber lost a step, or two, or 6. In any event, the Kings felt that Webber was expendable. And the Sixers were there to take advantage. The trade went down as one of those just beat the trade deadline moves in February. The Sixers traded Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson, and Brian Skinner for Webber, Michael Bradley, and Matt Barnes.
We know about Allen Iverson. One of the best players in the NBA in his prime as well, Iverson could score. And…that was about it. He was also fast. I wish he was still in his prime as I would like to see him go one on one with Ty Lawson is a quick movement with the ball contest.
Andre Iguodala is a little more tough and is the reason why I haven’t posted this article yet (it’s been written in late August). The reason is that I had to come to grips with answering this question about him: Has Andre Iguodala hit his prime yet? In today’s NBA, the ages 27-32 are what people consider to be the best years for a player. Iguodala is 28 and so he’s technically in his prime. But, I have said in the past that I felt Iguodala’s game hit a ceiling. I honestly don’t see him getting much better than he is now. And that’s sort of the definition of being in your prime. So, even though Iguodala is really entering his prime these days, I’ll add him in anyway.
The Sixers went 38-44 in 05-06. They missed the playoffs. Iverson was in his prime but on the wrong side of 30, Webber was obviously on his way out, and Iguodala was only in his second year. Now, as I answer the big question, I also take the rest of the roster into account as well. Here’s the rest of the roster (all players who played that year will be listed):
Matt Barnes, Michael Bradley, Samuel Dalembert, Deng Gai (!?!?!?!?!?), Willie Green, Zendon Hamilton, Steven Hunter, Kyle “Instant” Korver, Lee “All nylon for Nailon” Nailon, Keven Ollie, Shavlik Randolph, John Salmons, James Thomas, and Lou Williams.
If you don’t know about that little nickname for Lee Nailon, you missed out. That’s big reason why I enjoyed that season, sadly. Anyway, here’s another stumbling block I had to deal with: Does the big question relate to the entire roster? And I decided, “yes”.
So, considering the roster, and keeping in mind that Iverson, Iguodala, and Webber are all in their prime, would that team be able to contend with today’s NBA?
Starting 5 (according to actual starters for that season):
Dalembert is a very good post defender. Sitting alongside Webber would’ve created a powerful scoring, rebounding, and defending duo. I think those two could contend with some of the best PF/C combos of today’s NBA. Korver is the shooter that can hit from anywhere. Iguodala is the do it all guy. He’s in his preferred role as the 3rd best guy on a team. You have the interior scoring and outside scoring. Perimeter defense will be shaky, even with Iguodala keeping the best wing player in check. But, overall, the defense should hold up and be at least above average.
So, in the end, I say yes. In our scenario, the Sixers could contend with the Thunder and Heat and Lakers for the championship. I honestly do. And even not, they are certainly in the top 8 in the league. 48-56 wins is a given. Hitting 60+ might be pushing it. Their bench would be led by Lou Williams and Matt Barnes but outside of that, the bench would probably be average. Oh and for your information the coach is the 05-06 coach, Maurice Cheeks. So take that into consideration as wll.
So what about you? You feel the 05-06 Sixers in their prime could be contenders?