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Calculating Risk Vs. Reward With The 76ers

More than 300 years ago, Sir Isaac Newton said, "For every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction," also known as his Third Law of Motion. But it's not exclusive to just physics -- it's easily applicable to the world of sports as well. In basketball, every roster move, every philosophy change, and every coaching decision is labeled the action while the results they manifest are labeled the reactions. This offseason the 76ers made several actions and more will be made prior to the start of the season. Here is a look at some of these and the risks/rewards that are associated with them.

Doug Collins named head coach

  • Risk: After going 27-55 last season, it appears that there isn't much risk in hiring a guy with 332 career wins. But as mentioned in this column, Collins has a distinct coaching style that seems to contradict the playing style of his best players. Collins prefers a slowly paced game in which his team can maximize each possession. But with the exception of Elton Brand, none of the other Sixers would benefit from a slow pace. Holiday, Turner, Iguodala, Young, and Williams are all open-court players who would excel in transition. Will Collins modify his offensive approach (possible) or will Brand get in shape and modify his playing style (doubtful)?
  • Reward: The GOAT, Michael Jordan, handpicked Collins to be his coach whenever he returned with Washington and that alone garners Collins respect with all of his players who grew up idolizing M.J. Collins also has a Jim Johnson-esque mind for defensive tactics and that will endear him to the city of Philadelphia. But Collins' biggest strength is his ability to teach and get through to young players. That will be much needed considering the team's average age is 25 and half of the roster was born after Collins first became a head coach in 1986.

Drafting Evan Turner over Derrick Favors

  • Risk: "He's a 6-foot-6 point-forward who can play multiple positions, gets his teammates involved, but struggles with his jump shot." Sound familiar? That scouting report can be applied to both Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala. Don't get me wrong, Turner has the potential to be a very good player; however, he doesn't complement the Sixers' best player, which could lead to poor results. This isn't like Allen and Pierce because neither Sixer can shoot as well as either of those Celtics. This combo is more like McGrady and Carter in Toronto. They were an exciting duo, but they underachieved and never even won a playoff game together. Favors could have been the replacement heir apparent to Elton Brand and provided the Sixers with an inside-outside duo it hadn't seen since the days of Toney and Malone.
  • Reward: That Jordan-Pippen combo worked pretty well didn't it? Although none of the Sixers is on either of the Bulls' level, Collins has experience meshing swingmen into a successful pairing. The matchup problems that these two create will be fun to watch (if you're from Philly). With the exception of Miami and the Lakers, no other team has two wings who can match up defensively with Turner and Iggy. Turner was also a more finished product than Favors was at the end of the college season. Drafting Favors would have been drafting on potential, but Ed Stefanski decided to go with the guy who was more of a finished product, and you can't really blame him for doing that.

Starting Elton Brand at center

  • Risk: Who was the last center under 6-foot-10 that made an impact offensively in the NBA? Dave Cowens? Dan Issel? And it's not exactly like Brand has the athleticism to compensate for his lack of height. If Brand starts at center then that all but ensures that Thaddeus Young starts of PF. Then we'll be looking at a lineup featuring four thoroughbreds (Holiday, Turner, Iguodala, Young) and one lumbering Clydesdale. Brand clearly doesn't fit with that group and I haven't even mentioned his deficiencies on defense yet. That part of his game has fallen off even more than his offense as he grabbed just 3.7 defensive rebounds per game last year which was good enough to tie him for 97thplace in the NBA. And now he gets to battle with players 3-4 inches taller than him? This makes you wonder if there are there any rewards to playing Brand at center.
  • Reward: The only logical explanation I can think of as to why Elton Brand would be the starting center is that Collins wants to motivate Brand. It's clear that Brand no longer has the mobility to be a power forward and bringing him off the bench could make the former All-Star a malcontent. Thus, the ability to start at a new position is Collins' way of telling Brand, "Prove to me that you've still got what it takes to be a viable starter in this league." There is another reward, but I'm sure the Sixers won't publicly admit it; that is to build up Brand's value in hopes that someone will come-a-calling right before the trade deadline. Good luck with that one.

Having no true point guards on the roster

  • Risk: The potential point guards consist of 1) A 20-year-old who had the second-worst assist-to-turnover ratio out of all point guards last season in Holiday; 2) A shoot-first combo guard who is El Matador on defense in Williams; and 3) A former shooting guard who has reached 10 assists in a game once in 422 career games played in Willie Green. What if there is an injury or foul trouble? I know both Turner and Iggy can handle the point for awhile, but with 15 roster spots, it's hard to believe that not one of them can go to a true point guard.
  • Reward: You got me. I can't think of any rewards of constructing the roster this way. If anyone can think of any, then I'd love to hear them.