What We've Learned About the Philadelphia 76ers After the First Month
The Philadelphia 76ers' first month is out of the way, and we've certainly learned a lot about this year's team.
They have had their ups and downs, but are currently sitting at 9-6, which has to be looked at as a positive.
Although they've been successful, one player has been noticeably absent from the team. His presence has been missed, and it's easy to wonder where the Sixers would be at if they had him right now.
That player is of course Andrew Bynum.
Bynum averages more stories per day than minutes per game and that's certainly not what Philadelphia envisioned after trading for him this summer. It feels like something always goes wrong or another round of bowling takes place whenever he nears return.
Still though, Philly has played through his absence and found themselves with a solid winning record through month one.
Here's a look at what we've learned about the Sixers through the first month. And please, leave a comment about anything that you've learned.
All statistics in this article are accurate as of games played through Nov. 29.
Jrue Holiday Is the Real Deal
If anybody was concerned about whether or not Jrue Holiday was going to be a leader for the Sixers, then the first month has proven that he can be that and more.
Night in and night out, Holiday has consistently been the best player on the floor in almost every game he's played in.
Yes, sometimes even the best player for both teams.
Passing the ball has become a bit of a lost art in the NBA as not many people tend to flirt with 10 assists every game. The majority of those that do are players who have been in the league for multiple years and aren't in their early 20's.
That's part of what makes Holiday so great.
At 22 years old, his 9.1 assists per game are 4.6 more than he averaged last year. Getting an assist isn't about passing more, it's about finding the right man.
Some people seem like they're born with that natural instinct to find the open guy, but very few seem like they're able to learn that skill.
Holiday has clearly worked at his craft, because he's dishing out assist after assist right now.
Distributing the ball is only one of the many skills that he's put on display this year, but one thing is for certain: He's ready to lead the Sixers.
Philly Needs to Find an Answer for Their Rebounding Struggles
The Sixers are giving up 44.4 rebounds per game to the opposition.
That's the fourth-worst total in the league.
Sure, some of it can be credited to the absence of Andrew Bynum, but he's not here and Philadelphia needs to come up with an answer for it.
There's a distinct lack of size among Philly's players. Kwame Brown has now cracked the starting lineup.
Yes, Kwame Brown.
That's really not supposed to be a shot to him. It's just clear that if Brown is your starting center, then it's going to take a team effort to rebound the basketball.
Rebounding comes down to determination and fight.
Right now, there's not enough of that going around for the Sixers.
Nick Young Is a Good Replacement for Lou Williams
Lou Williams was one Philly's best players when he was with the team. In fact, he was one of my personal favorites and I was sad to see him go.
As sad as it was, there just might be a light at the end of the tunnel.
That light comes by the name of Nick Young.
Now, before you cringe and say that he's nothing close to Williams, take a look at the Sixers' success when he shoots well.
Michael Fogliano, featured columnist for Bleacher Report, wrote an article about Philadelphia's most startling stats. One of the stats he brought up was how the Sixers are 5-2 when Young scores double-digit points:
However frustrating you find Young's shooting habits, it is apparent that when he is in his groove, the Sixers are usually successful.
Like a lot of volume shooters, Young can be streaky, but when he is on he cannot be stopped. We saw this shooter's phenomenon take place twice against the Toronto Raptors this year and once against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In each of those games he shot over 50 percent from the field, and in the second matchup against Toronto, he recorded 23 points.
Young won't have to worry about getting his shots.
Those will come.
But he will have to worry about making them with consistency. If he can do that, then Philly is in a good position as the season moves forward.
The Sixers Still Have an Elite Defense
Coming out of the gate strong is always important, and that's exactly what the Sixers did with their first game against the Denver Nuggets.
Philadelphia held the 2011-2012 leading scorers to 75 points in a convincing victory.
That was the beginning of their 93.7 points allowed per game, good enough for seventh in the league.
Now, that's not on pace with the ridiculous 89.4 points that they gave up last season, but it's still impressive.
Having a strong defense will be crucial toward prolonged success.
The second their defense falls will be the second the losses start to rack up.
Coach Collins Has the New Players Playing Well
Philadelphia's fourth, fifth and sixth leading scorers are all new players.
Those players, Jason Richardson, Nick Young and Dorell Wright, were acquired over the offseason.
Getting three new wings had the potential to be disastrous.
Bringing in new players comes with multiple dangers. Players can struggle with learning a new system. There are also occasionally chemistry problems that tend to develop.
And the worst of all of them, the players sometime don't like the city that they go to.
It looks as though none of the previously mentioned problems have reared their heads.
This can primarily be attributed to head coach, Doug Collins.
Collins has found a way to integrate the new players into his system in a way that's not overwhelming. It allows those players to do what they do best, as well as learning Philadelphia's style of basketball.
The first month is always the hardest, and it feels like the new additions have been here for awhile.
It'll be exciting to see how the new players grow with the former Sixers as the season continues.
A Healthy Andrew Bynum Could Turn Philly into an Eastern Conference Contender
Nobody is saying that having a healthy Andrew Bynum means that the Sixers are automatically an NBA championship contender.
It does mean that they have a pretty good shot at at competing in the East, though.
Maybe even a shot at getting to the Eastern Conference finals.
Call it bad knees or call it bad luck, but however you look at it, Bynum just isn't coming back for a while.
Ideally, getting him back around the All-Star break would allow him to get into a rhythm, and hopefully ready for the playoffs.
He would clearly help with Philadelphia's rebounding problems, his interior presence would add a new aspect to the defense and having some kind of offensive post game would be a new weapon.
This first month has proven that the team was built for him to be a part of it, not for him to watch from the bench.
Bynum has been the storyline for much of the season, but it's only because of how important he could be.
He has the potential to turn this team into something special.
Unfortunately, he's having some trouble in getting a chance to prove that.