Thursday, July 30, 2015

State of the Sixers

We're 10 games into the season. And two days from the next game. Now is as good a time as any to evaluate the good and the bad, which we'll do at length this afternoon at 3 with a Live Chat. If you have time on this Monday afternoon, click here: Sixers Chat.

State of the Sixers

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We're 10 games into the season. And two days from the next game. Now is as good a time as any to evaluate the good and the bad, which we'll do at length this afternoon at 3 with a Live Chat. If you have time on this Monday afternoon, click here: Sixers Chat.

The next week could, and should, be a good week for the 76ers. Here's the next three games: @ Minnesota (1-8, including a loss to the otherwise winless Oklahoma City Thunder), vs. Los Angeles Clippers (1-8, with the emotional bonus of being Elton Brand's previous team, which he spurned for the City of Brotherly Love), vs. Golden State (4-6).

Right now the Sixers are on a three-game winning streak, which has boosted their record from an uh-oh 2-5 to a down-from-the-ledge 5-5. At the end of the week, will this team be 8-5? I do believe so.

But let's take a minute to look at the questions/comments still lingering after 10 games.

No. 1) Thank Goodness For Thaddeus. After his end-of-season surge last year, I think most Sixers fans knew he was a special player, but through 10 games he has been (I believe) much better than even hoped. Considering points 2 through 4, it's very good for the Sixers that he has played so well.

No. 2) Can Andre Iguodala be an effective outside shooter? Let me start by saying I'm an Iguodala believer. I believe his play, more than any other on the team, dictates how well the team performs. He has played well during this three-game win streak. And I don't think it's a coincidence that the Sixers have also played better. But, I just don't see much improvement on his outside shot from last season to this. Watch Iguodala's footwork and his form: Both are inconsistent. Sometimes he uses a two-foot jumpstop, sometimes a one-two step in, sometimes he holds both hands high on the release, sometimes he just lets his shooting hand linger. All of this adds to inconsistency. You can even notice subtle differences in his foul shot; his release, whether he falls back from the line or falls forward toward the rim. I don't think this is a make-or-break for the team, though. Because this isn't how Iguodala has to play. He has to slash, run, rebound, pass, and defend. If he makes one outside shot a game (and only takes, maybe, two), then all is good.

No. 3) Has Elton Brand lived up to the hype? So far ... My answer? Maybe? It's too soon to say? Possibly? Um ... No? Let's look at his numbers: 15.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, 44.0 percent shooting, 3.0 turnovers. I wouldn't say those are the numbers of the No. 1 blockbuster free agent addition of the summer. But the thing about Brand is that he pours in all the effort. You know you won't be shortchanged in the work-ethic department. So I'm willing to say that, considering he missed all of last season with that Achilles injury, this is an acceptable start for a guy working his way back into the rhythm of the game.

No. 4) Samuel Dalembert: What's his role? Samuel is averaging 7.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. On the road swing from Toronto through Indianapolis, Dalembert watched from the bench as Speights (at Toronto) and Brand (in Indy) played the bulk of the five-spot minutes. Throughout, Cheeks said that the decreasing minutes were a result of opponents going smaller against the 76ers. And Cheeks, in turn, adjusting the Sixers lineup. One can't dismiss, though, the simple fact that when the game was on the line -- in those fourth quarters -- Dalembert was not in the game. Now, against the Thunder, he played well (13 points, 16 rebounds). But how excited should we get about a strong performance against the Thunder? The Samuel Dalembert question, in my mind, still lingers ...

No. 5) The Point Guards. Andre Miller is Andre Miller. I trust he plays each game the exact way he believes is best for the team. Later in this post I will specifically explain why. If Miller is given shots he thinks are best, he takes them, because that's what is best for the team. So that's my Andre Miller summary. I don't worry about his game. Now, onto Lou Williams. The vibe I've gotten from Lou through 10 games is that he is out there to score points. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, except when it appears his only concern is scoring points. Through 10 games he has 17 assists and 20 turnovers. (By comparison, Miller has 56 assists and 14 turnovers.) Here is the play that makes me an Andre Miller believer: In the third quarter of the Oklahoma City game, Miller caught the ball in a 2 on 0 break. He could have easily taken one dribble and scored himself. But he didn't. He slowed down, waited for Thaddeus Young, tossed him a soft little pass, and let Young dunk the heck out of the ball. Why does that matter? Because Miller didn't care that at the time he only had six points. He knew the better play (for Young and for the fans) was a dunk by Young. He knew that was the right play. And he made it. The question: Would Lou Williams have done that?

Okay. We'll be back at 3 p.m. to chat more about all things Sixers.

Until then ...

--Kate

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About this blog

Keith Pompey has been an Inquirer reporter since September 2004 and took over the Sixers beat in the summer of 2013 after covering Temple basketball and football for the previous three years.

Marc Narducci has served in a variety of roles with the Inquirer since beginning in 1983. He has covered the 76ers as a backup and a beat writer. In addition, Narducci has covered everything from the Super Bowl to the World Series and a lot in between.

Keith Pompey Inquirer Staff Writer
Marc Narducci Inquirer Staff Writer
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