This week I took the time to answer some questions fielded at me by some very passionate Philadelphia 76ers fans.
Tough times have fallen on Philadelphia sports lately. There is not much to be happy about. The Phillies are coming off an underachieving season with a crew whose age and brittleness are starting to show. The Eagles failed to make the playoffs after a spending spree last off-season. $51 million goalkeeper Ilya Bryzgalov has lost his job and possibly his mind. Crime and random beatings are up in the city, and in a week and a half I have to watch New York and Boston again compete for sports dominance.
When was the last time anyone uttered the phrase, "Thank God for the 76ers"?
As 76er fever has grown, so have questions directed to me via email, Facebook, Twitter, and one evening when a bevy of intoxicated friends bombarded me with every Sixer concern they could muster. I answered them all in the same way...Please refer all these questions to my former freshman basketball coach, and Daily News columnist Bob Cooney, (firstname.lastname@example.org).
However since I am a respected (not really) writer, I've taken the time this week to answer some of these questions by folks who, for some reason, look to me for the answers.
Can the Philadelphia 76ers win without a superstar?
This didn't take long...The debate which has heated up the Delaware Valley now lands on my plate. I had to change this answer after last night's loss to the New Jersey Nets.
Yes, but not a championship. In fact, unless we get a high seed, probably not a playoff series. It is as simple as this. The Sixers are now 0-4 in close games this year, including two overtime losses, and the playoffs are a different monster. Unless the Wizards somehow manage to slip into a first round matchup, the 76ers are not winning four games by over 10 points.
This means the Sixers will need to establish a different strategy come crunch time. Although Louis Williams is a talented shooter and has hit several clutch shots for this team, he is not nearly as effective while driving to the basket. This limits his ability during late game situations. By putting a defender who can take away his shot, while allowing themselves susceptible to the drive, teams may be able to take Lou's dramatic jump shot away.
Andre Iguodala, while hitting several big shots for this team, isn't consistent enough to put into this situation at the end of the game.
Holiday and Turner I think could be the superstar we need, however Holiday still may not have the confidence at the end of the game, and Turner, while his jump shot has improved, still does not have that killer instinct to hit when the game is on the line.
Watching Deron Williams consistently hit big shots, I am reminded of how valuable a superstar really is.
Currently Lou Williams is the closer for this team until another player proves capable of handling this situation, or we land a superstar. To steal a quote from The Dark Knight, "A hero. Not the hero we deserved but the hero we needed." Lou Williams is our hero right now. He is not the superstar we deserve, but he is the clutch player we need right now.
The 76ers seem to have embraced the "team concept" this year. How much has to do with that fact these players seem to genuinely like each other?
Short answer, lots. Long answer, a whole lot. It's simple...If you like your coworkers; chances are you will enjoy going to work everyday. If you enjoy going to work everyday, your productivity will increase. If your productivity increases, your company will perform better as a whole. If your company is an NBA team, you will win more games. If your coworkers care little about the team, and more about cashing checks they will perform poorly and get their coach fired seventeen games into the season. (See Wizards, Washington.)
Follow up- How important has Doug Collins been to the Sixers?
I will also add the reason for the unity has been Doug Collins. He has become the glue holding this team together.
This morning I was approached by someone claiming their poor showing during close games falls squarely on Doug. I vehemently disagreed. Collins is putting his players in positions to succeed when the game is on the line.
While I do appreciate what Collins has done for this team, I do think some players play too many minutes, while some play too few. Although I like Jodie Meeks shooting touch, his ability to defend quicker guards leaves him vulnerable. I think Evan Turner needs to be given free reign to be the playmaker we saw in spurts thus far during his short professional career.
However, look how far this team has come in the past year and change. Iguodala takes horrid shots far less frequently...I think it may be down to one out of every two. That's an improvement if ever I saw one. He is doing exceptionally well with what he has. This is predominantly the same team Eddie Jordan nearly drove into the ground, looking like a contender.
Doug Collins is the solution to our problems, not the reason.
Can the Sixers get Dwight Howard?
Can this team win a championship with Spencer Hawes as our center?
Do we need a legitimate big guy?
We have Spencer Hawes.
More injury prone...Spencer Hawes or Michael Vick?
How can you possibly think the 76ers can win with Spencer Hawes?
Dallas won with Tyson Chandler. Big man is unfortunately being fazed out of the game.
What was Spencer Hawes wearing last night?
A three piece suit and an Abe Lincoln beard. Maybe he is Amish.