Thus far, the Philadelphia 76ers are a team with plenty of questions, issues, and needs. With a record of 20-21 at the season's halfway point, the Sixers can take a lot of positives from an up-and-down first half.
Here are five items the team must address to threaten the premier squads in the East:
5. Outside Shooting Defense
The squad allows too many easy looks from three-land. To stop teams from coming back from large deficits, you must quickly shut down the opposition from beyond the arc, and the Sixers are inconsistent at best.
The team allowed 35.7 percent from beyond the arc to opposing teams. That percentage has to decrease if the Sixers are going anywhere in the postseason.
4. Elton Brand's Offensive Output
When the Sixers signed the power forward away from the Clippers for $82 million, management thought they were getting a legitimate scoring threat that would give the team a balance of scoring. So far, Brand hasn't delivered consistency on the scoreboard.
While this might save the team some money in their electric bill, it has hurt the team on the court. He has yet to play a game, however, for the squad's new coach, Tony DiLeo.
The team will have to work through the power forward on plays that have not produced easy transition dunks that the team has lived off of recently.
3. Inside Scoring
With Brand injured, the Sixers' new coach worked in rookie Marreese Speights to contribute down low. Playing the rookie has shown to be effective, especially in relation to their offensively aloof starting center, Samuel Dalembert.
Dalembert, although a premier shot blocker, might as well sit down and rest while the team is on offense. Speights, although averaging only about 16 minutes a game, has averaged three more points per game than Dalembert.
With Brand back in the lineup, look for the team to get the rookie involved even more.
2. Fewer Wasted Shots
Since acquiring Brand, the team has looked lost on offense. That may have been due to their players' lack of experience with a low scoring threat. While Brand is a prolific scorer, it takes more time to develop plays from a big man.
That means less time for play-makers like Iguodala and shooting guard Willie Green to set up and score points. Before, the offense would tick down the clock and kick it out to their scorers, who would then hurl up a low-percentage shot.
The team has to get back to drawing in defenders to Brand and then kicking it out to players that can knock down an easy shot.
1. Outside Shooters
With no outside shooters, opposing defenses can double Brand and make it very difficult to score. With no outside shooting to spread out defenses, Brand will have a tough time getting any man-to-man coverages.
Although not considered a shooter, Thaddeus Young has been one of the Sixers' best. They'll have to look for other players that can score from beyond to really make the team's offense a force to be reckoned with.
One thing that becomes apparent when you watch the Sixers is that the team has no real outside scoring threat. Through a trade acquisition, the team will have to get an accomplished shooter who can drain trey bomb after trey bomb to give Elton Brand enough room to maneuver.
It's a desperate need and one that could determine if the team will be a contender or a pretender come playoff time.