Philadelphia 76ers: 6 Reasons Doug Collins Takes Sixers Deep into the Playoffs
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How does an even deeper playoff run sound?
Collins has never coached one team longer than three years, and he's not getting any younger. At 61 years old, it's safe to say that his coaching future is limited unless he wants to have a Larry Brown type of career.
Chances are, that's not the case.
If the Sixers want a legitimate shot at the NBA Finals within the next couple of years, then it has to start this season.
With that said, here are six reasons that Doug Collins will take Philadelphia deep into the playoffs this year.
Adding Andrew Bynum Gives the Team a Dominant Big
Andrew Bynum is the best center in the NBA. Yes, the best center in the NBA. (Philly Live)
Here's your history lesson for the day. Who was the last dominant big on the Philadelphia 76ers?
If you said Chris Webber during the 2005-06 season, then you could have a case. He averaged 20.2 points per game while taking in 9.9 rebounds per game.
Clearly, Webber had a great year, but calling him a dominant big is a stretch. His game was at its best from 12-17 feet from the basket, so calling him a big is hard. Playing deep in the post was never his specialty, so he didn't ever demand more than one man guarding him.
Another good guess would have been Derrick Coleman's 1996-97 season. Averaging 18.1 PPG and 10.1 RPG shows that he was a force when on the floor. The problem is that he wasn't on the floor too much. He missed 25 games that year, and his game is similar to Webber's in the sense that he was more of a perimeter player.
Charles Barkley was a 6'6", 252-lb. power forward that ran the floor like a gazelle and had a very versatile offensive game. However, his post game wasn't anything to write home about. It would be impossible to fault you for picking Barkley as a dominant big, but it still doesn't feel quite right.
The correct answer to the initial question is Moses Malone. His 1985-86 season was an incredibly productive one. He averaged 23.8 PPG and 11.8 RPG while shooting about 46 percent from the field.
Seeing those kind of numbers out of Andrew Bynum this season wouldn't be out of the question. Bynum will also be the most important player on the defensive end of the floor as he'll be asked to control the paint.
Coming off of his best season of his career, Bynum has the potential to put up his biggest numbers yet. The kind of numbers that help a team make a deep run into the playoffs.
Both Collins and the Sixers Have Proven That They've Done It Before
This photo is from his coaching days with the Chicago Bulls
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Nerves are almost always felt when a group of players compete in the playoffs for the first time. The pressure is ramped up and the environment is unlike any other game that they've played in.
This can no longer be an excuse for the Sixers.
Collins has a little experience of his own.
He coached the 1988-89 Bulls as they reached the Eastern Conference Finals. In total, his teams have made the playoffs seven times. He's only coached for 10 years.
Combining a team that knows what it's like to play well in the playoffs with a coach that has had playoff success over his career is definitely a step in the right direction.
The Atlantic Division Is Open for the Taking
Is Kevin Garnett reflecting on his career?
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To anyone that follows the NBA, the Atlantic Division has been one of the most under-the-radar divisions in all of basketball.
This just might be Philadelphia's year to take over the division.
The Celtics have been spending their offseason in an old folks home, and that certainly can't bode well for the team. Their (former) superstars are all considerably past their prime and are only looking slower and less explosive as time goes on.
The Brooklyn Nets had some major offseason acquisitions, but that only means that the team will take two to three years to develop the kind of chemistry that successful teams have. Their talent level isn't enough for them to win games on that alone.
New York always seems like it's going to be a favorite in the East—then the season starts. The Knicks are proof that having an incredible starting five with no bench will only lead to bad things happening.
The Sixers are guaranteed a top-3 seed in the playoffs by winning their division. That kind of a seed will lead to having a home-court advantage come playoff time. Not to mention, beating those four teams should give Philly some confidence in knowing that they can beat that squad again if they end up meeting one of them in the playoffs.
A more balanced Atlantic Division could give the Sixers a real shot at winning it.
Philadelphia Can Go to a Nine-Man Rotation and Not Lose a Step
Jason Richardson should provide some valuable experience off of the bench
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Here is my projected starting lineup for the Philadelphia 76ers this year. The depth chart also includes the first four players to get off the bench:
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Evan Turner
SF: Thaddeus Young
PF: Spencer Hawes
C: Andrew Bynum
6th: Nick Young
7th: Lavoy Allen
8th: Jason Richardson
9th: Dorell Right/Kwame Brown
Thaddeus could end up accepting a bench role which would shift Turner to small forward and put Richardson at the starting shooting guard spot.
Any way it's looked at, that nine-man rotation proves that the team has quite a lot of depth.
It's important to have this kind of depth come playoff time because the time between games begins to shrink. Look for Philly's rotation as a potential story-line heading into this year's playoffs.
Collins Will See Jrue Holiday Take a Step Toward Becoming a Top Point Guard
Jrue Holiday looks like he could be ready for stardom
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"For Holiday to be considered one of the league's top 10 point guards, he will need to mold himself into a more potent offensive weapon. In the past, Holiday has appeared complacent, settling for mid-range jumpers when he could have been attacking the basket. While his outside shot is actually quite solid, there needs to be a more pronounced inside-outside game in Holiday's repertoire."
With Iguodala leaving, all of a sudden, Holiday's role turns into one where he'll have to actively look to score. He has proven that he can score in stretches, so he'll have to transform that into a regularity instead of only when he feels like it.
If Collins is able to get the absolute best out of Holiday, then Philadelphia can book their hotel rooms for the second round of the playoffs.
The Sixers Should Boast a Top-3 Defense This Season
Philadelphia's new size should force teams to take more jump shots
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The 2011-12 Sixers allowed 89.4 points per game. That's an amazing statistic, and it was good enough to put Philly at No. 3 in the league for points allowed.
Losing Andre Iguodala is going to be incredibly difficult, but Bynum's addition should help to balance out the loss.
Iguodala is a lockdown defender that doesn't give his opposition much of a chance to get into a rhythm. He always stepped up and guarded the other teams best guard/forward—a quality that Philadelphia will surely miss.
The important part about trading Iguodala away is that the Sixers got back a fantastic interior defender in Andrew Bynum. Well, he's incredible when he tries, but we won't get into that.
Assuming the effort is there, Bynum could end up making the Philly defense even better than last year. One thing is for sure, there certainly won't be much of a drop off in overall defense. Collins' main focus is getting the team to play team defense and that's not going to change this season.
Expect another top-3 defense and one that will be feared come playoff time.