March 2, 2015

2009-10 NBA Preview: Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers

2008-09 Record: 41-41

Anticipated Starting Five

PG- Lou Williams
SG- Andre Iguodala
SF- Thaddeus Young
PF- Elton Brand
C- Samuel Dalembert

Key Reserves: Marreese Speights, Jason Kapono, Willie Green, Jason Smith, Jrue Holiday

Preseason Wrap-Up

Below are two tables.  The first is the Sixers’ preseason player totals.  The second has the players’ preseason averages on a per-36-minute basis so there is a degree of extrapolation.  (click the image to enlarge)

Sixers 2010 Preseason Stats

A few thoughts on the team as a whole

  • 36.5% on 104 attempts from three is very promising.  It’s very clear Kapono will make threes.  We just need him to focus on shooting threes and not trying to do to much (i.e. pump-fake step-in jumpers).
  • Rebounding will continue to be a strength for us.
  • There is also some potential for us to improve from the line as a team as well.  Last season we were 25th in the league at 74.5%.  I’d love to see that number at 78% minimum.  The two guys that can get us there are Thad and Brand.

Individual player thoughts

  • Speights was a straight beast statistically.  He scored and rebounded extremely well and was our best volume free throw shooter.  If he plays that way and is just average on defense we will be calling for him to get Elton Brand’s minutes asap.
  • Kapono is the best shooter both in terms of making shots but also just the way he looks when he attempts a shot that I’ve seen in a Sixers uniform in recent memory.  Every time he catches and shots it looks like it’s going in.  It will be enjoyable to finally watch a guy with that kind of skill to shoot the ball.
  • Lou Williams is still Lou Williams.  A volume shooter whose main focus is to score and get to the line.  I was hoping to at least see his assist numbers up a bit – nope.  Right now we have two 100% jackers on the squad who play very little defense (Lou and Marreese).
  • Andre Iguodala‘s turnover numbers are very disturbing.
  • Jason Smith is a spot-up shooter only now offensively.  He made his threes at a decent clip, but his 2pt field goal percentage was only 41.9%.  And he only attempted 4 free throws on 43 total shot attempts.  That’s not acceptable.
  • Jrue Holiday‘s per-36 numbers show some promise – IF he can control his turnovers.  He needs to adjust to the pace of the game and speed and athleticism of NBA players.  He made weak passes often which led to many of his turnovers.  Eddie Jordan visibly got on him for that throughout the preseason.  More on this in a future post.
  • Three things on Thad.  He still is a weak play-maker.  He still needs to get to the line more.  He MUST keep his rebound rate at the level he did during the preseason at a minimum.
  • Elton Brand was pretty damn bad.  Horrible FG% and too many turnovers.  Dude needs to get his shit together ASAP.  I am praying his field goal % is more about adjusting and finding his shots in the offense than his inability to really finish at the basket while guarded.  More on Brand below.
  • Sammy was okay.  He is shooting more mid-range jumpers, which I think contributed to his lower field goal %.  I actually think that number will rise closer to 50% by the end of the season.  But his rebounding is exactly where we want it.  Was a little concerned about his blocks rate.

Sixers started hot and floundered late in the preseason. And that’s playing no elite teams during the preseason.

Biggest Strengths: Line-up versatility / transition offense / rebounding

Has this team’s strengths really changed much?

I still believe the strength in this team lies in their versatility.  Lou can man the point and score on the wing.  Iguodala is one of the better all-around players in the NBA.  Thad can play the 3 or 4.  Brand, Speights and Jason Smith can face up on the perimeter and bang in the post.  Jrue can defend both guard positions, as can Willie Green.

But with that we also don’t have a great player (aside from Kapono’s shooting ability) in anything either.  It’s a net positive no doubt and hopefully Eddie Jordan can maximize this to the fullest.

Offensively this team is still going to run, and they will have to if they want to win games early in the season.  The half-court offense is going to start slowly; I have no doubt about that.  So pressuring opponents and flying up and down the court must remain a calling card of this team.  We need those easy transition baskets when the offense eventually sputters.

Thank god Elton Brand can still rebound well when he sucks offensively.  He along with Sam, Speights and Jason Smith in the front court and Thad, Iguodala and Jrue on the wings will do at least a top 10 job rebounding the ball, especially on the offensive end.

What could make them a top 5 or better rebounding club is consistently finishing off possessions on the defensive end.  Last season we ranked an unacceptable and kind of inexplicable 26th in defensive rebounding rate.  There is no personnel or physical reason why they were that bad on the defensive boards.  That needs to be a focus for Randy Ayers this season.

Biggest Weaknesss: New coach, new offense, new personnel to incorporate / No flexibility if things don’t work

Look, forget the fact that we don’t have a uber elite player.  I’ve harped on that enough.  We are a playoff team at best – that’s it.  BUT we are only a playoff team if these weaknesses don’t hinder us more than we maximize our strengths.

New coach, new offense and new personnel thrown in the mix.  Our half-court offense sucked last season.  Two big reasons for that.

  1. We weren’t running anything but isos, pin-downs for one of the most unproductive guards in recent NBA history and post-ups for our point guard.
  2. We couldn’t shoot.

This season we have a coach with a system that has and can work.  BUT right now that system isn’t entirely put in, and for our players it’s like learning a new language.  On top of that Brand needs to find his niche, Kapono needs to find his shooter areas and what is Jason Smith’s role? We have a hell of a lot of stuff to work out, and the season starts tomorrow night against one of the 5 best teams in the NBA – ugh.  Because of the ongoing learning process, I think we will struggle early.  It’s not that I don’t think they will start clicking, but I think it’s pretty unreasonable to believe they will start the season that way.

Ok so let’s say we are approaching the trade deadline and sitting 10th in the East, a few games out of the playoffs.  What do you do?  Is there anything?  Just suck it up and hope they can turn it around with the current roster?  Unless Stefanski wanted to blow it up, the only guys we would want to trade are Brand, Kapono, Green, Brezec, Sam, Ivey, Carney and maybe Jason Smith.  The problem: who the hell wants any of those dudes?  Kapono has some value, maybe Jason Smith.  Even if Brand was playing half decent his contract would scare everyone away. Worst yet, what could we get back of any value?  We are stuck for a bit with this roster.  Let’s hope it pans out.

Let me quickly address one of the big weaknesses from last season – perimeter shooting.  While I am taking a wait-and-see approach, I think this won’t be as big a deal as last year for a few reasons.

  • Kapono can shoot and shouldn’t have trouble getting open looks with Lou and Iguodala’s penetration ability and hopefully Brand’s resurgence.
  • Lou is an upgrade over Andre Miller from the perimeter.  Lou over his career shoots 10% points higher from three and Lou’s TS% and eFG% isn’t that far off.  We just need to hope he doesn’t have another career low year shooting the ball.  Can someone say shot selection!?
  • Carney should help, and if Jrue’s small sample of preseason games are any indication, he at the very least won’t hurt us and could potentially help.
  • Speights is probably the second best perimeter shooter on the roster.  He will be taking more shots this season no doubt about it (he’s publicly said so).

So while there is still some uncertainty, I am more optimistic this won’t kill us this season.

Key Player: Elton Brand

If Elton Brand stinks, the Sixers aren’t going to be very good – period. There are two reasons why though.

  1. We have to make up for the wins Andre Miller contributed to last season (8.8 to 11.1 depending which metric you use).  That is significant, and I think people are severely overlooking and discrediting that challenge for this team.  The thought is you replace Miller’s production with Brand and we at least don’t get considerably worse than our 41 wins last season.
  2. If Brand is unproductive does anyone think he gets benched for Speights?  I don’t even a little bit.  That means his lack of production and efficiency would hamper the team all season – and beyond if we can’t move him.

If Brand returns to form we can expect somewhere around 1014 wins produced out of him.  Replace Miller’s numbers for Brand’s career averages would put us slightly better than where we were last year, making any additional improvement in the win column coming from the development of our young players and the added contributions of Carney, Kapono, Jason Smith and Jrue. This is where we want to be and have to pray for as a Sixers fan.  Anything less will likely result in a dreadful season.

Biggest Question: Can they get the city’s attention?

I think it’s very possible that this is the least-publicized season in Sixers’ history. The Phillies’ popularity is at an all-time high, and the Sixers’ opener happens to be on the same day as Game 1 of the World Series. The Eagles, pushed slightly aside by the Phils still have, and will always have, the same rabid fan base. And the Flyers are off to decent start after adding two premier talents in Chris Pronger and Ray Emery. That leaves the Sixers, who were relatively boring last year, didn’t add anyone big in the off-season, play in a conference with 3 dominant teams, and have their money locked up for the next couple years. We all know how great this city can be when it gets behind a team, but this team would have to really be good to get their attention right now. We have a bunch of exciting players, and they would all have to gel quickly and get us up in the Top-4 of the East for the Sixers to get back on the city map.

The Big Unknown: Defense

We hired a offensive-minded coach.  Randy Ayers is back coaching our defense.  Lou is the starting point. Are we better defensively?  Can we be?  Will we be?  Will Eddie Jordan emphasize and enforce that side of the ball from the head coaching position?

I actually know how they can get better I just don’t know if they will.  Defensive rebounding!  We were 14th in defensive rating. We were 12th in opponents FG%.  We were 14th in opponent’s 3pt% and 19th in opponent’s eFG%.  But the biggest detracting factor was their 26th ranked defensive rebounding rate.  Second shots tend to be easier – stop giving them up!

Best Individual Season of All-Time: Wilt Chamberlain, 1966-67

24.1 ppg, 24.2 rpg, 7.8 apg, 68.3 FG%

Like the Celtics and Lakers, the Sixers are real tough to pick one season for. You have Wilt, Moses, Barkley, Iverson and Dr. J to choose from. I choose this season for 3 reasons. First, that 68.3 FG% is absolutely insane. It is the highest FG% by a 20 ppg scorer in NBA history, and no one else is even remotely close. The difference between Wilt and 2nd place (Jabbar, 60.4%) is the same as the difference between Jabbar and 156th place. Secondly, this was the season the Sixers won a club record 68 games and their 2nd NBA title. Finally, just for good measure, Wilt was 3rd in the NBA in assists per game.

Pete’s 2010 Outlook: 2th place, Atlantic division / 7th place, Eastern conference / 16th place, NBA

My personal opinion with this team is that we need to look at it as though Elton Brand will have little to no impact this year. I just don’t think he looks physically explosive, and he lacks whatever strength or aggressiveness that made him a force inside in his previous life. That being said, the success of the team this year will depend on the development of the young players (Young, Williams, Speights) and how the players react to the new coach and offensive system. I think that all 3 of those young guys will show flashes, but none will make the leap to all-star that we need them to to be a contender. I also think that the team will struggle with offense, and some of the players will get frustrated with it, hopefully they react by working harder at it and not quitting on the coach. All in all, this is pretty much the same team as last year, though slightly improved with the youth development and addition of Kapono. Good enough to make the playoffs but not to do much else.

Dannie’s 2010 Outlook: 2nd place, Atlantic division / 7th place, Eastern conference / 14th place, NBA

The outlook is pretty simple for me.

  • Most likely scenario: Playoff team.
  • Absolute ceiling: 2nd round playoff loss.
  • Worst case scenario:  9th or 10th seed who just misses the playoffs but isn’t quite bad enough to get substantial lottery balls in the draft.

What I am hoping for.

  • Excitement.  I just want this team to play hard every second of every game.  I can live with the results if they give me that.
  • Signs that we have some real keepers on this roster.  We aren’t competing for a ring now or anytime in the next couple years.  But we do have some promising young players, and I really want to see them start to shine.
  • Good coaching.  I am tired of the coaching carousel with this team.  I want Jordan to maximize what he has; that is all you can ask for from a coach.  Then in time provide him with a championship-caliber roster.

We don’t have to wait much longer, and I can’t wait to start watching some Sixers basketball again.

Check out the Sixers 2010 forecasting with predictions from bloggers and major media alike.

See all 2010 NBA team previews

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  1. deepsixersuede says:

    I thought Marreese, other than defensive positioning at times, was head and shoulders better than Elton in every aspect of the game this preseason.He improved his defensive rebounding also so if Elton doesn!t come out and get consistant double/doubles early I think a 24 min. apiece situation could start occuring quickly. I really like our 2nd unit if Holliday can run the point after 20 games or so. Jason should be shaking off the rust by than and Carney I believe will get plenty of looks in the opposit corner with Kapono out there. My biggest prediction ? Iggy gets 8 ass. per this year.Danny, his last 3 games his turnovers dropped bigtime. A 2nd round exit is the LEAST I want to see this year. Can we have a defensive identity with Jordan as our coach, I don!t know but when Holliday eventually takes over the starting p.g. position we could be scary good if Elton and Sam click.

  2. Sean says:

    I think this is the year Iguodala steps it up to superstar level.  Thad might start slow, but I expect him to quickly get it back to his March performance.  Brand will be the 3rd option, vying with Lou on some nights, especially if Lou has it going.  Speights will replace Lou’s bench offense, complemented by the shooting of Kapono, Smith(& Hopefully Carney).  By the 2nd half, I expect Jrue to make a push for more minutes at the same time the team begins to really gel for their annual stretch push.
    My big key is the Big 3(potentially 4).  If Dre, Thad, EB and Lou can combine for 70+, they will be fine, especially with what I think the others, especially Speights & Kapono(with Sam as a darkhorse), can contribute.  I believe they will make that target.
    IMO, I think they have a shot at 4th/5th with 45-50 wins.

  3. jkay says:

    Iguodala’ s turnovers are probably a direct result of more point responsibility given that the steady Miller is gone.
    Watching the BOS-CLE game now, Celts are steady and tough, Cleveland is more explosive with the addition of Parker and Shaq. Orlando is improved or at least changed at the very worst. I doubt that the whole East is much improved but one thing’s clear; the top tier teams are widening the gap.

  4. jkay says:

    I think I am finally coming off the Thad Young bandwagon. fine player sure but he is without, so far.  his holes are beginning to show now. hope he continues to work on his game. he is useful as is now anyways. Iguodala can worry about the assists and defending the star player but meen he needs to keep rebounding on defense, not just offense.

  5. Dannie says:

    Jkay – I don’t care what his turnovers are a result of.  I care whether or not he continues to do so at a high rate regardless of his responsibilities offensively.  Unacceptable.

    How is the East not better?  Washington will be tougher and will absolutely win more than 19 games (they are beating Dallas by 8 right now).  Toronto is better even if just a little.  Chicago like us is a year older with a really tough playoff round under their belt and Deng is back.  The Bucks could be better if Redd is healthy and Jennings is the real deal.  They added Kurt Thomas and Warrick in the front court, Delfino and I think Jodie Meeks will end up being pretty good shooting the ball. And that’s in addition to the top three teams all getting better.

    The East is better there is no doubt at all in my mind.

  6. Zack says:

    Jumping off of Wayne Winston’s ideas – there’s this recent TrueHoop piece about what Henry Abbott calls his “Wayne Winston” theory: “…a consistent theme of many bad NBA lineups is that they include two or more players who can’t shoot.”
    Sixer players who aren’t better-than-average shooters or better: Sam, Iguodala, Lou, Ivey, Holiday, Willie Green, Thaddeus, Rodney Carney.  Notice what they have in common, except for Sam?  They’re our guards/swingmen!  So, according to that theory, and assuming most lineups we play have 3~4 of those guys, we’re not going to win many games, and our best +/- lineups will have a lot of Kapono, Brand, Speights and Smith.

  7. Dannie says:

    Zack – Numbers?  What constitutes an average shooter?  FG%, eFG%, TS% what?  What is the average level?

    Last season average team FG% was 45.9%.  Players average or above last year:

    1. Speights
    2. Iguodala
    3. Thad
    4. Dalembert
    5. Carney
    6. Brand (career)

    Average eFG% last season: 50%.  Sixers players average or above last season:

    1. Thad
    2. Iguodala
    3. Speights
    4. Kapono
    5. Brand (career)

    Average FT% last season: 77.1% Sixers average or above:

    1. Lou
    2. Speights
    3. Kapono

    As a team:

    • Sixers were exactly average in FG%
    • 1.5% below average in eFG% and
    • 2.6% below average from the line

    The “Wayne Winston theory” is nothing more than common sense.  Shooting is the most important basketball skill.  Having a line-up full of guys that are good at it is, well, common sense.

    Second most line-ups we play will have 3-4 of those guys?  really?  Data to support this claim?  I don’t buy that even a little bit.  There were 20 teams with a lower FG% than the Sixers last season.  It’s 100% about 3pt shooting specifically for the Sixers.  If they become just average they will jump dramatically in eFG% shooting as a team.

    Also to say “we’re not going to win many games” simply because of shooting completely ignores defense OR to put it in shooting terms, lowering your opponents’ shooting efficiency.  Maybe we don’t shoot as well as the best teams BUT if we can defend well enough we bring them down to our level.


  8. The Real Rob says:

    Greatest strength(s):
    -Strong work ethic (team practiced over the summer) 
    -Eddie Jordan will perhaps find his niche here.
    -Fastbreak scoring
    -Highly  Young & Athletic
    -Versatile Roster 
    -Wachovia Center(best fans, best stadium-and we need more fans!!)
    -Second half success
    Greatest weakness(es) (or should I say question marks?):
    -Need a quality veteran PG, whether it be a starter or a backup
    -Perimeter shooting (especially the Starting Lineup)
    -Perimeter defense, still in question regular season wise
    -Do we have bug spray to repel the team from the injury bug? 
    -First halves of the season(including the dreaded West Coast Trip)
    -Free Throw inconsistency
    -Turnovers (especially Iguodala)
    -Lack of killer instinct or urgency (esp. when facing short-handed teams)
    -Raising their goals and going beyond just a playoff berth.
    -Eddie Jordan’s demons from Washington-such as defensive woes

    With that said, the Sixers will be 2nd in the Atlantic, 6th in the East. 

    (On a side note, the Sixers must keep themselves in check and maintain their composure.  But this team should be fun, as well as under the radar!  However, this team needs a quality PG in the roster, whether it be Rafer Alston, Juan Dixon, or even a Kevin Ollie type of guy.)


  9. tk76 says:

    Since we have now read all of the previews, thought I’d post the over/under win totals set at the Vegas Hilton a few wks back:

    Atlanta Hawks – 44.5
    Boston Celtics – 56.5
    Charlotte Bobcats – 37.5
    Chicago Bulls – 40.5
    Cleveland Cavaliers – 61.5
    Dallas Mavericks – 48.5
    Denver Nuggets – 52.5
    Detroit Pistons – 41.5
    Golden State Warriors – 35.5
    Houston Rockets – 35.5
    Indiana Pacers – 34.5
    L.A. Clippers – 34.5
    L.A. Lakers – 62
    Memphis Grizzlies – 27.5
    Miami Heat – 40
    Milwaukee Bucks – 25.5
    Minnesota Timberwolves – 25.5
    New Jersey Nets – 28.5
    New Orleans Hornets -46.5
    New York Knicks – 31.5
    Oklahoma City Thunder – 35.5
    Orlando Magic – 57.5
    Philadelphia 76ers – 40.5
    Phoenix Suns – 41.5
    Portland Trail Blazers – 52.5
    Sacramento Kings – 24.5
    San Antonio Spurs – 54.5
    Toronto Raptors – 41.5
    Utah Jazz – 49.5
    Washington Wizards – 41.5

  10. tk76 says:

    So Sixers set at 40.5, with 5 other teams within 1 win of that total.  Should make for an interesting season albeit a non-contending one.  They could easily end up anywhere from 4th to 11th in the East.
    I think the key is how many they can win by talent alone (win ugly) until the offense starts to click.  Like the last 3 years, I expect a slow start and a strong finish.  If they can keep their head above water the first few months they should have a good shot at getting past the first round.  But on the other hand these 1st few moths could be ugly.

  11. Johnnylaptop says:

           Dannie, you hit the nail right on the head, nice right up.  Sixers at Orlando is going to test us. It should show us how far along we really are. 

  12. gemma barnes says:

    Kapono can shoot and shouldn’t have trouble getting open looks with Lou and Iguodala’s penetration ability and hopefully Brand’s resurgence….agreed!

  13. Derek Bodner says:

    Thad’s STILL only 21.  I don’t understand the logic in jumping off the bandwagon of a guy who was 20 years old averaging 18.6 ppg after the all-star break last year.

  14. Dannie says:

    Derek – I think it’s less about jumping off the bandwagon and more about jumping on too hard, too fast.  No one disputes that Thad has don’t a good job scoring the ball.

    But the reason I have never jump on him is because that’s about all he does well at this point.  He is a marginal rebounder for his size, athletic ability and position.  He is a non-passer/play maker for teammates.  He doesn’t draw fouls well at all.  And he has been known to have defensive lapses for time to time.

    A lot of that IS because he was only 20 years old.  And he has tons of time to improve his all around game.  But the way people are anointing him the next greatest is just a bit too much for me personally.

    And not to speak for directly for Jkay but, jumping off the bandwagon doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t like Thad as a player either.

  15. great preview guys

    I share your same fears about how the fact that few fans care about the Sixers, let’s hope the team will carry them with a nice pile of Ws, especially in the first 2 months because otherwise it’s going to be a  long season

    I am not particularly excited but curious to see how this season will end, probably low expectations could help us (and the team)

  16. tk76 says:

    Dannie, isn’t his rebounding rate lass an issue as the SF than when he played PF (with Iguodala likely a (+) rebounder at SG?)
    I’ve debated this with Brian a bit.  If they can rebound well as a team, I’d rather send Iguodala to the glass at Sg and let Thad leak out.  Thad has a better chance of beating his man down the floor (than Iguodala does at SG), while Iguodala is a threat to take the ball coast to coast when he grabs the board.
    That’s not giving Thad a free pass, just thing if someone is going to leak out some it should be Thad.

  17. jkay says:

    Derek: I was one of those guys who was ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhs’ about Young’s ability, thinking guaranteed All-Star. but to me now, he is not as well rounded a player as I hoped. He’s still young so we’ll see, but I am not putting all my future Sixers team hopes on his progression. And I’m certainly not knocking him.

  18. jkay says:

    I know its premature and unwarranted but if Brand’s ability is as mediocre as the preseason suggested, then this may be the 2nd coming of C-Webb, only we’re stuck with him for much longer and much more. Can the Sixers franchise really survive that? after the whole post Iverson-rebuilding era of quasi-suckiness.

  19. Dannie says:

    TK76 – I have a few counterpoints.

    A really big part of the reason we were really bad on the defensive boards is because of that habitual “leaking out.”  I have a big problem with that strategy.  Why is anyone leaking out anyway.  Secure the ball then run.  Don’t leave just your bigs to rebound, having Andre Miller waiting on the perimeter for an outlet pass and everyone else cherry picking.  Secure the ball and finish off defensive possessions.

    Running opportunities should come from pressure defense, forcing turnovers, long rebounds, a dynamic player who can really push it (think Ty Lawson at UNC or Nash in the NBA) and having a good secondary break in place.

    If Thad rebounded better we would be a dominant all around rebounding team with Iguodala’s + board work at SG.  Considering we aren’t the best shooting team and are weak in the  half court rebounding while already one of the four factors becomes even more important.  More second chances offensively and less for your opponent goes a long way in making up for poor team shooting.

    Regarding Thad specifically…

    Those first two points were team oriented. Regarding the evaluation of Thad as an individual becoming a better rebounder has nothing to do with the team per say.  It’s just about him improving a weaker aspect of his game in general, something all players should be striving to do.

    Saying he doesn’t really have to rebound well because someone else will do it would only be stunting his progression as a player.

    My major issue with all the Thad love is just that,  it’s 100% love and never any criticism or conversation about his weaknesses.  When did he become a perfect player?

    I like him.  I think he is a keeper for this team long-term.  But he isn’t leading us to any championships. He is just a piece not the piece.  Still searching for that guy.


  20. Zack says:

    Dannie, I was sort of just playing around with his ideas, and you make great points on them.  Can’t argue with the numbers, the guys I put down are guys that I think will hurt you the most with outside shooting, based on having watched those guys on a regular basis (w/Kapono I’m going with his reputation as a marksman alone).  Without looking at the numbers, and based on your just watching a lot of our swingmen/guards, do you agree with my list there?

    I agree that Winston’s theory is ignoring defense, for now - he’s trying to find reasons why certain lineups are good and bad, and one thing that usually separates the two is the number of good shooters in the lineup.  I think the Sixers of the past two years have done a great job of making up for their lack of shooting with their running game and turnover-causing defense.

  21. tk76 says:

    Dannie, my disagreement is over strategy and not based on me giving Thad a pass.  We differ in how we would use Thad in a way to maximize what he can bring to the floor.
    As a PF you should never leak out.  But if you have a SG who can rebound well (and is a coast to coast threat when he does) then you can choose to try and leak out your SF.  I can see your view about sending 5 players to teh D-Boards, I just disagree.
    If Thad is deep in the lane fighting for a board he is unlikely to be in position to run.  If 2-3 defenders are back before Thad gets out then the running games is mostly nixed.   On a 94 foot court it is extremely hard to run off of defensive boards without having 2 players at least out of the lane.
    If you only want to run off of blocks and steals then that is fine.  But I don’t think your approach maximizes the talent on this team.  And I feel Brand, Sam and Iguodala should be able to control the defensive boards (75% reb rate) without Thad crashing every time.

  22. Dannie says:

    TK76 – I hate to always come back with numbers but in this case there is no choice.

    With regard to strategy I honestly have no preference other than which one works.

    Are you telling me the way the Sixers have approached this has worked or been successful?

    Here are some numbers:

    Last season their defensive rebounding rate was only 71.4% good for 26th in the NBA.  75% would make them a top 5 defensive rebounding team.  You think accomplishing that without improved contributions from Thad is not just possible but likely?  Maybe IF Sam and Elton improve and Iguodala at least maintains where he is.  Maybe.

    Pace factor (an estimate of team possessions per 48 minutes).  The Sixers ranked 21st last season.  That suggests two things to me.

    1. The Sixers don’t play as fast as people think
    2. We don’t defensive rebound well which would decrease our possession per 48 minutes, or better stated gives us less opportunities to score

    Wins – 40 and 41 respectively

    End Results – 1st round playoff exit(s)

    Keep doing the same thing expecting different results as it goes.

    A different strategy and theory – Wouldn’t we be maximizing our talent by focusing more on crashing the defensive boards because:

    • We are only slightly below average in terms of turnover rate.  If we were much worse I would be more inclined to take your approach as the risk of leaking out might outweigh reward securing more defensive boards and having to score in the half court.  But since we aren’t too horrible turning the ball over comparatively that isn’t the case
    • A second point on turnovers – I’d be curious to see a breakdown of where our turnovers come half court vs. transition situations.  That type of data would play a big role in strategy as well.
    • We were the 2nd best offensive rebounding team in the league.  That is a very very big reason to take the safer play of crashing the boards and playing in the half court as it gives us both more first time shot opportunities but plays to our strength by giving us more chance on the offensive boards (where Thad (and Speights) is better actually).
    • 19th in eFG%.  Not horrible but certainly not good.  Again I’d love to know the breakdown of opponents eFG% on first shots vs. second shots.  Either way their overall number isn’t good.  For me it stands to reason second chance shots tend to be easier/higher percentage shots since the defense is caught scrambling often.  It’s makes sense to cut down on those.

    Again all my points above focus on maximizing the team as whole rather than specific individual talents.  I get where you are coming from but the results haven’t exactly supported the strategy either.


  23. tk76 says:

    Appreciate the numbers, and several are relevant- but mostly to last years team, where Thad was playing PF much of the time.  The rebounding % was starting Thad at PF, which IMO was just a poor decision on many levels.  Sam and Brand should be a huge upgrade.  Also Iguodala is a better rebounder than Green.
    As far as pace, that is more of a reflection of them not scoring with early offense.  When they could not run they struggled to get a good scoring chance.  Maybe the P.O. will ultimately be an answer, but not yet.
    I’ll counter the pace stat with fast break points, where the Sixers were right about best in the NBA.  Take away those easy point and the team would have been much worse than .500.  Last year the had the worst post bigs and worst jump shooters in the NBA.  So .500 was pretty miraculous unless you credit all those fast break points (and second chance points- as you mentioned.)
    I agree with your thoughts about the offense, just feel the risk/reward favors trying to trigger the break by leaking out Thad.  maybe not all the time, but at least enough to kick start the break and put pressure on the opponents.
    Your fundamental approach has its benefits, but I just don’t see this team winning much with that straight up type of approach- at least not until they show themselves as an elite defensive team, a competent offensive team or both.  So if the D is improved and the P.O. is effective then I’ll conceded that trying to force a running game by risk taking is not worth it.

  24. The Greek says:

    Does Iggy have to suck for the first month of every season?
    I loved seeing Speights get in Howards face, our other goofball center would have went in for a kiss there.
    Lou can’t guard pee wee players.
    I’m hoping for a better 2nd half


  1. [...] know about you all but those two things worry me.  And in keeping with my thoughts on the Sixers 2010 preview those two points focus on the defensive [...]