What The 76ers Can Learn From The Eagles

One team in Philly gets it....why can't another?

As a sports fan, one of the hardest things to do is to compare athletes from different sports, much less different positions within the same sport. Who was a better football player: Jim Brown or Jerry Rice? Was (pre-roid) Barry Bonds better than (pre-roid) Roger Clemens? The same thing could be said for teams from different sports. Are the Yankees or the Lakers a better organization? What about the Phillies vs. the Celtics? That's tough to answer because we're so used to measuring the greatness of a player or a team within the context of their position or their league, respectively. But that doesn't mean teams in one sport can't learn something from teams in another sport. The values in sports (teamwork, integrity, perseverance, etc.) are not exclusive to just one sport nor are organizational policies and practices. Thus, I will look at how the Eagles do certain things and compare that to how the Sixers handle the same situations.

Say what you want about Andy Reid, but there is one undeniable fact about him: he gives the young guys a chance to prove themselves. Whereas the Eagles gave guys like Brent Celek and Trent Cole an opportunity to prove themselves as legitimate contributors, the 76ers continue to give playing time to the likes of Willie Green, Jason Kapono, and Jason Smith. You know what you're going to get from those players, and it's not much.

For all of his defensive shortcomings, Marreese Speights is a proven scorer who on a 40 minute/game average puts up 20 and 10. But for some reason Smith played over 600 minutes last season while Speights played 25+ minutes in a game only a handful of times. According to the win share formula at basketball-reference.com, Smith contributed 0.7 wins last season whereas Speights contributed 2.1 wins which is just as much as Thaddeus Young contributed.

Jason Kapono is arguably the most one-dimensional player in the league, and that one dimension isn't even that great anymore. His main asset, the 3 point shot, has decreased in percentages in three consecutive years. Those years of just spotting up and waiting for Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh to kick it out from a double team are long gone. Kapono led the league in 3P% in the '06-'07 and '07-'08 seasons and finished in the top 12 in ‘08-09. But then he gets traded to Philly and drops all the way to 70th! We could have kept Donyell Marshall's carcass on the bench with that minimal production; at least he could have grabbed a rebound or blocked a shot once in a while.

Somehow, someway Willie Green has managed to last 8 seasons with the Sixers or as many years as Charles Barkley and Doug Collins did. Maybe even more amazingly, Green played over 1500 minutes last season including extended stretches of playing time after the acquiring of Jodie Meeks. It wasn't until the last 10 days of the season when the team decided to give Meeks ample playing time and he responded by averaging 13.5 ppg on 57% shooting in April. Green's career average is 9.4 ppg and at the age of 29, it's not like that number has much potential to increase.

You obviously traded for Meeks for a reason, so why did it take so long to use him? This may seem more like a coaching decision rather than an organizational decision but if Ed Stefanski told Eddie Jordan, "Hey, we need to play this Meeks kid more" then what do you think Jordan would have done? If he said no then he would have been fired a lot earlier than April. With the exception of coaches like Sloan, Popovich, and Phil Jackson; coaches are merely an extension of the front office. Thus, what a coach says or does is usually backed by the front office so in Meek's case, Eddie Jordan isn't the only one to blame.

Now let's look at what the Eagles did in a similar situation. They saw what they had in L.J. Smith and N.D. Kalu and saw that it wasn't good enough due to age, injury, or general ineffectiveness. Thus, they were cast aside and in their place, two unheralded 5th round draft picks were given a chance to shine. I'm not saying that Marreese Speights and/or Jodie Meeks will ever reach the status of Cole or Celek; but it would be nice if they simply got the opportunity to show just how good they can be.

Another thing that the 76ers can learn from the Eagles is the art of managing a salary cap. You can take a chance on a quarterback who hasn't played in two years due to imprisonment when his total salary is just under $7 million. But you can't take a chance on an aging power forward who's coming off of major surgery and pay him $80 million. I know athletes are grossly overpaid but $80 million for a guy with a sketchy medical history? Not even the Raiders would do that (Javon Walker cost them "just" $55 million).

For all the talk of the Eagles being unable to get over the hump; they still have been pretty successful over the past decade. Eagles' fans wonder if their team will be able to win in the NFC Championship Game while Sixers' fans wonder if their team will finish .500. So Philly fans, you should be appreciative of your football team because as you see with the hoops team; things could be much, much worse.

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