The moves made on Draft Day in June make tonight’s Sixers/Pelicans matchup especially intriguing.
Jrue Holiday makes his revered return to the Wells Fargo Center and he gets to face off against his replacement, Michael Carter-Williams, who has been making me Sixers fans forget about Jrue’s departure.
Here is a quick comparison of the guard’s stats this season:
Holiday: 14.0 ppg, 7.3 apg, 3.9 rpg, & 1.6 spg
Carter-Williams: 17.8 ppg, 7.0 apg, 5.6 rpg, & 3.1 spg
This is not the time to compare and contrast the two, although I will say that I never fully believed that Holiday was the right player to build a team around from the point guard spot; I don’t harbor those same feelings toward the fresh-faced Carter-Williams. I am smitten with his versatility, and what the duo of him and Brett Brown can develop into down the road.
Regardless, it’s safe to say that Holiday won’t hear the same boo birds that blessed Bynum upon his return to the WFC.
Aside from Holiday’s return, Sixers fans invested in the tank* also have to decide which team would better benefit from a late November loss**.
It seems that, although the Pelicans are the more talented team, they will have a more difficult time making the playoffs in the West than the Sixers will in the anemic East. It is entirely possible that the Sixers could get playoff positioning in the East with a losing record, while the Pelicans will certainly need a record above .500 to do the same out West. Thus, it seems that a late November loss would better benefit the Sixers, as far as pick positioning is concerned.
* I wanted to briefly address the issue of the Sixers tanking, as it is a hot topic that seems to split the fan base. The Sixers players are not purposely trying to lose games as they are out on the court. Each player on the team is invested in winning night-in and night-out, and plays to that end. The team as a whole however, is too under-talented to truly contend. The team, as currently constructed, just doesn’t have enough depth and raw basketball ability to compete with the league’s top teams. Thus, rather than adding extraneous parts and trying to push into the low-end playoff picture, the organization is using the season as an opportunity to test young talent and develop players who may benefit the future of the franchise. The fact that there are talented lottery picks looming, and that the team will likely be in position to land one or two of them, makes the Sixers’ struggles this season much more tolerable.
** The Sixers received a (top 5 protected) pick from the Pelicans along with Nerlens Noel in the Holiday deal. So in short, the Sixers want the Pelicans to miss out on the playoffs (in order to insure a lottery pick), but not be too bad (so that the pick falls out of the top 5. The logic here is that the Sixers will have their own lottery pick (hopefully somewhere between 1-5), and a pick from the Pelicans (hopefully between 6-14).