With opening night just a few hours away, I decided to make a wish list of sorts. I'm sure coaches in every level of basketball tell their players what they would like to see them do more or less; thus I decided to make my own little list of what I'd like to see from the individual Sixer players:
Lou Williams - Continue the good play from preseason.
Despite not starting a game, Williams led the team with 13.4 points per game in seven preseason games. He also shot 50% from the field and 50% on 3-point attempts. He definitely looks comfortable playing the super-sub role so hopefully his preseason performance is a sign of things to come.
Jodie Meeks - Be ready when called upon.
Meeks' two best traits are his outside shot and his knack for scoring lots of points in a short amount of time. The problem for him is that Jason Kapono and Lou Williams are ahead of him on the depth chart and each of those players possesses one of Meeks' traits. But if one of them gets hurt or falters, then Meeks needs to be prepared to contribute or otherwise, he'll be spending lots of time in the D-league.
Jrue Holiday - Don't put too much pressure on yourself.
Because your coach already did. Holiday just needs to play within himself and serve as a facilitator in this offense. But on the defensive end I'd like him to be more aggressive and try to shut down the opposing point guard. Playing great defense may not always be evident in stats, but just like a defensive tackle in football, a player's mere presence and disruptiveness can provide a big impact for his team.
Andre Iguodala - Attack the rim.
For some reason unbeknownst to me, over the past three years Iguodala has gone from being one of the most aggressive players at attacking the basket to someone who mindlessly jacks up shots from the perimeter. Iggy doesn't need to be copying Vince Carter's game by doing that. He's not a great shooter but still launched nearly four 3-pointers per game while his shot attempts at the rim and from the free-throw line decreased. Every single other part of his game is solid and attacking the rim more often will improve his efficiency. While shooting less 3-pointers may make fantasy players mad, it will make Sixer fans much happier.
Evan Turner - Crack the starting lineup.
Seriously, that's all I'm asking for from the #2 overall pick. If he does manage to become a starter at some point this season, then that would be viewed as a major accomplishment whenever you look at the history of rookies playing under Doug Collins. The last 11 rookies, who were drafted in the first round, to play under Collins combined to start a grand total of 17 games in their rookie seasons. In other words, that's about 1.5 games started per player. It's not just 11 Kwame Browns in that list either, it also includes Scottie Pippen (0 starts), Horace Grant (6 starts), Theo Ratliff (2 starts), and Brendan Haywood (2 starts). So if Turner can become a starter, even for just 20 games, then I would deem that a success.
Andres Nocioni - Improve shot selection.
Perhaps it was just being in Sacramento that made Nocioni a gunner but he looked nothing like the player he was in Chicago. He took some terrible shots and just seemed to be going through the motions. Now in Philly, and with more talent around him, if he doesn't improve his shot selection then Doug Collins won't hesitate to bench him.
Thaddeus Young - Become comfortable playing power forward.
With Holiday, Turner, and Iguodala entrenched as this team's future 1, 2, and 3, respectively, Young will have to carve a niche at power forward. He's just 22 so he's still growing and he's already up to 230 lbs. after being at 215 when he entered the league. I see a lot of Shawn Marion in him in that they're both natural small forwards but they're length and athletic ability allow them to play power forward effectively.
Jason Kapono - Regain your shooting stroke.
Because if you don't, you'll be out the league soon since you have no other skills. No one expects him to shoot 51% from 3-point range like he did in '07, but he should definitely shoot better than the 37% he put up last year. If he doesn't, then his 3-point percentage would have dropped in four straight seasons and he would likely have to find his shooting stroke in a European league next year.
Darius Songaila - Get to the line more often.
How's this for a stat: Songalia has the 7th highest free throw percentage in NBA history among all players 6'9" or taller (minimum 600 attempts). But he doesn't draw fouls often enough as he gets to the line just 1.2 times per time. Hopefully Collins can put Songalia in situations where he can draw fouls and use that underrated part of his game to his advantage.
Elton Brand - Show that you still care.
Seriously. I thought about putting "live up to your contract" as to what I'd like to see from Brand but then I remembered that I should only list realistic goals. Thus, Mr. Brand, I'd like to see you actually give a ____ and find a way to be productive. He's sort of become the power forward version of Tracy McGrady in that he's either always hurt or using his injuries as an excuse for his poor play. Twenty and 10 isn't happening again and neither is 18 and 8; but is 15 and 7 and some effort on defense too much to ask for?
Marreese Speights - Baby steps on defense.
We know what he can do on the offensive end but let's see if he can carry that same mindset to the defensive end. His technique is what needs improved and there may be no better coach than Collins to teach him the proper technique. He won't be getting Defensive Player of the Year votes anytime soon but a gradual improvement should be expected.
Craig Brackins - Dominate the D-League.
With Hawes, Brand, Speights, Songalia, and Battie ahead of him on the depth chart, Brackins will best be served getting meaningful minutes for the Springfield Armor.
Tony Battie - Provide veteran leadership.
No one expects Battie to be much of a factor on the floor but he will be needed in the locker room as the elder statesman of the team.
Spencer Hawes - Remember you're 7'1".
There are literally only a handful of players in the league taller than Hawes who may still be growing at the age of 22. But he plays like a guard and last season he had as many shots 16+ feet from the basket as he had at the rim. While the ability to have a big who can shoot is an advantage, it shouldn't come at the expense of dominating centers in the post who are three to four inches shorter than you. Collins has really only coached one big man who preferred an outside game and that was Terry Mills with Detroit. But Mills was an undersized center at 6'10" so had to rely on long-range shooting. It will be interesting to see how Collins uses Hawes and it will be imperative for Hawes to "play his size" if he wants to stay in the starting lineup.