NBA Philadelphia 76ers: An Ideal Starting Lineup in 2012-2013
With just five games remaining on the Sixers' 2011-2012 slate it's becoming increasingly evident that the Philadelphia 76ers are stuck in neutral. After starting the season 20-9, the Sixers have struggled to win games on a consistent basis, losing to teams like the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets, who they feasted on early.
With no go-to scorer and no post presence the Sixers possess an array of role players who exchange primary scoring duties night in and night out.
The end of this bipolar season says just one thing about the 76ers: They are a team in serious need of a makeover. To be successful in today's NBA you need elite scoring and elite defense. The Sixers currently have the league's second-rated defense (they allow just 89.0 points per game), but they rank 24th in the league offensively in points per game at 93.2.
Given the Sixers' extreme need for change, here's what an ideal starting five would look like in 2012-2013.
Point Guard: Jrue Holiday
While point guard has been a position of debate lately, there's no question that Holiday should remain the starter next season. Although Evan Turner has at times staked his claim as the team's most dynamic floor general, Holiday is far too valuable to move. Holiday has a better feel for the game at the professional level, and Turner still hasn't figured out how to crack the most stifling defenses. Holiday is still just 21 years old and projects as one of the league's most promising point guards moving forward.
Shooting Guard: O.J. Mayo
Although he's a restricted free agent next season, the Memphis Grizzlies may not feel the need to match offers for Mayo. In fact, a recent report suggests that the Boston Celtics and Grizzlies actually had a deal in place for Mayo at the deadline, but it fell through at the last minute. With Mayo in the fold, the Sixers would possess the go-to scorer that they have lacked since the departure of Allen Iverson.
What's the Sixers' greatest need heading into next season?
Mayo and the Sixers would be a perfect match, because Mayo is a fearless shooter. As far as gunners go, Mayo is up there; but the Sixers are in need of players who can create their own shot off of the dribble, and Mayo can certainly do so.
Small Forward: Andre Iguodala
The Sixers' lone All-Star in 2012, there's a very small chance that Iguodala is moved this offseason. Although rumors circulated last summer about a potential Iguodala-Monta Ellis swap, the deal never came to fruition. While fans are constantly bothered by Iguodala's inconsistent play on the offensive end, his defense is far too valuable to let go. Iguodala has established himself as the league's premier wing defender and he should be looking at first or second all league defensive honors for a second consecutive season.
Power Forward: Kris Humphries
Although Humphries has been the punch line of jokes surrounding Kim Kardashian, he's the kind of post presence that the Sixers are missing. While Elton Brand is no sure thing to be gone next season he does have an early termination option that he can exercise if he decides that he wants to play for a contender as his career winds down. Exercising this option would free up $18 million in cap space next season for the Sixers. Humphries is currently averaging over 13 points and 11 rebounds per game, numbers that would make the Sixers' front court much more fearsome.
Center: Meyers Leonard
As I wrote yesterday, the Sixers would be wise to add to their frontcourt depth in the first round of June's draft. Meyers Leonard is a proven seven-footer out of Illinois who would be an improved version of current center, Spencer Hawes. Leonard has a similar mid-range game to Hawes, but he boasts much more defensive prowess than Hawes, especially as a shot blocker. Other intriguing prospects at this position include Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Fab Melo.
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