The other night, I watched the 76ers dispose of the Milwaukee Bucks and actually noticed several positives. For the last couple of years, positive articles about the Sixers were few and far between. There was a little buzz during last year's Draft Lottery when they locked up the 2nd pick.
Unfortunately with a 3-10 start that excitement has understandably fizzled away, and the naysayers have been flooding the Internet and local papers with negative articles about what is wrong with this team. Anyone with a small knowledge of basketball and cable television can tell what the major issues are here. I am not going to waste everyone's time doing the same thing. Instead, I will focus on what is currently going right with the Philadelphia 76ers.
They Are Young
So far this season, inexperience has been a major factor in the Sixers' rough start. That is bound to happen when, besides Elton Brand, the core group has an average age of 23. It is inspiring to see that this team has not let age affect effort. They are young and they are scrappy. With such a low expectation coming into the season, being able to watch a young team compete every night is all I can ask for this year.
And people need to stop getting frustrated with Evan Turner because he's not putting up 20 points a game...these fans need to understand he is being gradually introduced into Collins' system. He has the talent and ability to take over games; he just hasn't been given the keys to the team yet. This is different from the Washington Wizards' John Wall, who has been given the keys, his driving permit and a car full of gas.
They Are Well-Coached
I think the Sixers may have finally fixed the coaching woes that plagued them since the departure of Larry Brown. They now have a coach with an impressive track record for developing young talent, as well as an incredible amount of patience. The most important thing needed for a young team like this is patience. He has made the point to his players that the old "organized chaos" style of play is no longer accepted.
Last year Eddie Jordan would allow a player like Marreese Speights to turn it on and off without any consequences. Now under the new regime he simply won't play. Fans can cry all they want about how the Sixers are wasting his talent, but Collins has taken charge, said this is what we are doing, this is how we are doing it, and if you are not interested, then you will sit.
Collins has also done a terrific job thus far managing the minutes throughout this team. This was not an easy task considering the cluster of young players at the guard and small forward positions. Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner are both receiving the minutes they need to develop, and Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young are benefiting from the Andre Iguodala hiatus. With the injuries and demands for playing time, the fact that Collins is still able to put a competitive team on the floor each night is impressive.
They Are Loaded With Trade Bait
Trade values are currently high. With the exception of Turner and maybe Holiday everyone is tradeable. Despite Iguodala's injury, he still is on the top of most GM's "Watch List". He would be a good Robin for a number of serious NBA title contenders. Brand is starting to look like the player everyone anticipated when he arrived several years ago. I would love to hold on to a player like Elton and see what he can do in Collins' system.
However, if the right trade comes around, he may need to be moved. Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams have also been productive enough this year to warrant some serious interest elsewhere. Those players can be used as trade bait to fill some of the gaping holes that remain with the 76ers' rebuilding plans.
I would love to see the Sixers acquire a player like Robin Lopez. Despite his slow start this year, he has proven the ability to be a lock down interior defender, energy guy during last year's playoffs. Look at the Bulls; they are building a team around an exciting young Derrick Rose, and a workaholic in Joakim Noah. Those are two major pieces of the puzzle. Every team needs a talented point guard, and a good interior defender to be successful. I never thought I'd see the day when I would think..."Man, we really could use Sammy D in the middle blocking shots."
Acquiring a young player in the Lopez, Noah mold would add the Sixers to potential Type A Free Agent's lists. Would anyone be opposed to giving up Thaddeus and Jrue for Melo? Especially with the possibility of snagging a player like Kyrie Irving in next year's draft? Wouldn't a starting five of Irving, Turner, Anthony, Brand and Lopez be downright frightening?
I think so.
Regrettably my experience as a GM is limited to NBA 2K9-11. We may not have the money or the man power to pull off a maneuver like that. Sure this trade could happen on my Playstation 3, but as my wife constantly tells me... "Video games are not reality."
On a side note, a friend of mine was going to a Halloween party with a group, in which each member would dress as a different holiday. My friend chose to go as "Doc Halladay" aka Roy Halladay. The costume consisted of a Halladay jersey, scrub pants, a stethoscope and a surgeon's mask.
Unfortunately the Phillies did not advance to the World Series thus ruining that idea. Now I am thinking what would have been worn if the costume was changed to Jrue Holiday...no idea. The only way to figure this out would be to come up with a nickname for Jrue that would allow for humorous signs and costumes...I am going with Jrue Holiday Inn Express. I'll get you started..."I am not a Sixers fan, but I did stay at a Jrue Holiday Inn Express last night."