What is the problem with Philadelphia’s basketball team?

The Sixers have played .500 Ball for the past few weeks, most of their wins coming against sub­par teams. We have seen this year that the team is not exactly contending like many were expecting after the Bynum trade.

Lets examine the players and coaches for positives, negatives, and ways to improve the team. The focus will be on building a future contender, not as much on this year’s post ­All­Star campaign.

Point Guard

Positive: The Ascent of Jrue Holiday to Stardom Negative: Lack of an efficient backup

The Sixers have an All­Star point guard starter in Jrue Holiday, who has started emerging into a star. He is the face of the franchise in the absence of Andrew Bynum, and definitely the biggest positive of the year. But what about his back­up? Jrue can only do so much. The team has mostly used veteran Royal Ivey who is a decent veteran, but is not the first PG off the bench on a championship squad. The answer to the back up PG problem may be Jeremy Pargo. He has played pretty well in his first few games as a sixer. Doug Collins said of Pargo, “He gave us good defense and he allowed me to get Jrue off the ball, which, I thought, made Jrue fresh to finish the game.” (http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20130210/SPORTS03/302100022/Pargo­helps­Sixers­cage­Kidd­Gilchrist­Bobcats )

So, Doug is thinking about letting Pargo be the ball handler at times to keep Jrue in the game for longer and conserve his energy. Albeit a small sample size, Pargo has averaged over 23 minutes per game. Focusing on the Charlotte game, Pargo scored 12 points on 9 shots with 3 free throws. He shot around 44% from the field, dished 6 assists and grabbed 4 rebounds with only one turnover. If he can do any semblance of this, along with letting Jrue rest without the game going down the drain, he can be a good backup PG for this team for years to come. Yes, it is a small sample size against a struggling team on a 10­day contract, but the Sixers brass has described him as a smart player who can manage a game. Now the team has signed him to stick around at least through this year and hopefully longer. For him to be effective, he needs to average around 8 points, and 3 to 4 assists along with playing the “good defense” that Doug has seen him play, similar to the role Norris Cole played on last years NBA Champion Miami Heat.

Royal Ivey is a good defending veteran, but his minutes can be sporadic. It seems like he plays 25 minutes one night and may not see the floor for 2 games. He gives it his all, however, and is a good influence in the locker room.

Shooting Guard

Positive: Nick Young’s Swaggy Nights

Negatives: Jason Richardson out for up to 12 months, and Nick Young’s questionable shot selections. Dorell Wright not getting Minutes

Even when healthy, Jason Richardson never was completely there this year. He found his shooting stroke for a few games back in November, but he basically just averaged 10 points per game, and low assist numbers with some easy floorboards. When he went down, Nick “Swaggy P” Young was given the starting job. He has been very good for the most part, and the longer leash has really seemed to relax him . Before he got regular minutes, “Swaggy” as coach calls him, was taking bad shots and not producing, His defense has improved, and he is creeping towards being a little smarter of a player. On January 30th, Coach Collins said: “I think he has really listened as we’ve tried to teach him. He’s focused, I told him when we got him, ‘My last goal as a coach is to make you a polished player and not “Swaggy P”, just the act – a player.’ (http://sixersdish.blogspot.com/2013/01/nick­young­opportunity­is­here.html)

It is hard to tell if Dorell Wright plays SG or SF, but it seems like all he does is take threes and they do not fall as much as they bounce off the rim. Maybe what he needs is more minutes­similar to what the coaches did for Nick Young, although there are only so many backcourt minutes to go around. He may be uncomfortable because he worries if he makes one mistake, he will be pulled off the court.

Small Forward

Positives: Evan Turner’s dominant games, Thad Young working hard, Damien Wilkins’ veteran leadership

Negatives: Evan Turner’s struggle nights, Thad Young’s Injury, Dorell Wright’s low minutes

Evan Turner started the year well, and has struggled for a while with the exception of a few games. Turner’s struggles have prompted trade rumors. One rumor was him and Spencer Hawes to the Hawks for Josh Smith. Rumors are all speculation, but it is getting to the point in Evan’s career when he is what he is­an inconsistent player. He may be a player to move, but I think you let him finish out the year and hopefully get a sense of how he plays alongside Andrew Bynum (this goes for most of the team).

Similar to Royal Ivey, Wilkins is a veteran who plays his heart out, but he is likely not in the long term plans.

Thaddeus Young consistently is doing all the little things for a team to win, like diving for balls and taking care of the ball. However, he plays more power forward.

Dorell is a SG­/SF tweener. His minutes have been low this year, as well as his stats and his confidence. Maybe he’s just not a fit here. This is a contract year for him, and he is owed $4,106,000 this season. He could be valuable in a trade to a team looking to free up salary cap at the upcoming trade deadline .

Power Forward

Positives: Thad Young’s consistency, Spencer Hawes occasional good game, Moultrie’s past few games

Negatives: Thad Young’s Injury, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen being soft

Thaddeus Young was arguably the best player on the team, that is, until he got injured. The team has lost 3 of 4 in his absence, two of which by a large margin. Bottom line is­this team was mediocre with him and is below­average without him. He grabs boards, scores efficiently in the paint, and does all the little things to win

Remember back on Opening night against Denver, a “MVP” Chant broke out at the Wells Fargo Center (as a joke) for Spencer Hawes? Well that game, along with the Memphis road game, and the Orlando home game stick out as the majority of Hawes’ good games. Hawes’ shot selection has long been scrutinized, and rightfully so. Many who favor the team cringe when he takes a three. The funny thing is, they go in around 30% of the time. Spencer is a curious case, and always will be regardless of his team. As Clark Kellogg says in NBA 2K13, Spencer has gotten away from his good post game as a pro. He is 7ft tall, and should be in the paint more, especially with Bynum out.

Lavoy Allen is known league­wide is the guy who handled Kevin Garnett in last year’s NBA Playoffs. He was given a raise for his efforts. He had a few nice nights, but arguably is in a “sophomore slump”. Lavoy might be the kind of player who steps up in the playoffs, like a defensive, big­man version of J.J. Barea.

Center

Positive: Spencer Hawes playing well every once in awhile

Negatives: Andrew Bynum’s right Knee, Andrew Bynum’s left knee, Kwame Brown, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen being soft

The Center position was supposed to be what propelled this years’ Sixers to the upper­echelon of the NBA. This year, it has failed in spectacular fashion and has been the team’s achilles heel rather than it’s iron fist. Philadelphia’s prized accusation, Andrew Bynum was the focus in an exciting open press conference at the Constitution Center a few days after being acquired from Los Angeles. Now that day lives in infamy, as he has yet to actually play in the red, white, and blue of sixers uniforms. The Internet has unquestionably taken note of his odd hairstyle choices, but sixers fans are growing more and more impatient. The injury has arguably put the team in a hole that is too deep to climb out of. Sometimes, his arrival seems to be a few days away. Other times, it seems to be so far in the distance. In a contract year, Bynum has only hurt his wallet, as it will be difficult to coax large paydays from any team with the injury risk that comes with him. Bynum is the Sixers future right now. If they want to compete with this core, he needs to play­and soon so the team can assess his play to decide if they want to continue the risk. Bynum is high­risk, high reward. Right now, he is certainly proving to be a risk.

Kwame Brown has continued his reputation as a bust. Many fans were questioning his signing, and right now they look right. He is a benchwarmer. Yes, his defense is fair but he is not the kind of player you keep if you are trying to build a champion

Hawes and Allen both straddle the line between PF and Center. They also need to step up and grab more rebounds and score in.

THE ROSTER’S FUTURE

**Note: preference comes first in the event of two options

Jrue Holiday-­KEEP (UNTOUCHABLE)

Jeremy Pargo-­LET SEASON PLAY OUT BEFORE DECISION

Royal Ivey­-OUT

Nick Young­-KEEP (on right deal, don’t overpay)

Jason Richardson-OUT (Amnesty or Trade) or KEEP

Evan Turner-­TRADE FOR RIGHT DEAL or KEEP

Thad Young-­KEEP or TRADE IF BLOWN AWAY

Damien Wilkins­-OUT

Dorell Wright­-TRY TO TRADE or OUT

Lavoy Allen­-KEEP or TRADE

Spencer Hawes­-TRY TO TRADE or KEEP

Kwame Brown-OUT (Amnesty or Trade)

Andrew Bynum-­LET REST OF SEASON PLAY OUT BEFORE DECISION

**note: statistics are from http://www.basketball­reference.com/teams/PHI/2013.html

Ricky Wegryn

I am the Owner and Founder of Philadelphia Sports Nation

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