The first half of the Sixers season is in the rear view mirror and it was mostly one to forget. Philadelphia is 22-29 and 4 games out of a playoff spot. Clearly the improvement of Jrue Holiday to an All Star level was the best story of the first half. Holiday is averaging 19 points, 9 assists and 4 rebounds a game and has became the leader of this team. Even though he missed the last week, Thaddeus Young was the other bright spot in the first half. Young averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds and was the hardest working Sixer on a nightly basis. When inserted into the starting lineup, Swaggy P Nick Young became a new player. He began to play defense, pass the ball and have better shot selection. The only positive to come on Thad’s injury is the fact that the Sixers got to see what they had in their first round pick Arnett Moultrie and in my opinion he hasn’t disappointed. The 6’10 power forward goes to the basket, which is a foreign concept for big men on this team and seems like he could be a potential starter in the future.
Now to the many disappointing issues of the first half. Obviously the Andrew Bynum fiasco was the biggest negative of the first part of the season. When the Sixers acquired Bynum, there was excitement that they had the big man in the middle that they had been missing. But then it turned out that his knee was not healed and the only time you would see him would be in a suit. Over the past month, he has begun on court activity and what was thought to be an end of February return is looking more like mid March. The Sixers desperately want to make him a part of their future, but with the injury concern it is not a good investment at the moment. Hopefully when this season is over we can look back and say that Bynum’s appearance changed the play of the team and led them on a playoff run. While that would an awesome turn in this disappointing storyline, I have trouble seeing it. The other smaller disappointments have been the lack of growth by Lavoy Allen after a great playoffs and Jason Richardson not improving the shooting guard position. First lets start with Allen, who is talented, but seems like ability wise it is just not there on most nights. As he proved in a 22 rebound effort earlier this season, he is capable of crashing the boards but just doesn’t do it consistently. I know one thing, if Arnett Moultrie continues to impress and go strong to the basket, we may have a change in the starting lineup. I know it was probably dumb to expect a significant impact from Jason Richardson this late in his career, but I thought he could have a been a solid starter. Injuries aside, Richardson just did not provide the scoring and leadership ability I thought he would. He showed flashes early in the season, but just couldn’t find his shot and then went down with an injury. The one positive was that his injury led to Nick Young being put in the starting lineup and and the Sixers signing Jeremy Pargo, who has impressed so far. All in all the Sixers first half was very disappointing, but hopefully good things are on the horizon for this team. There are a lot of if’s, but if things can fall into place in the second half, I think the Sixers could find themselves in the playoff picture.