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Philadelphia 76ers' Most and Least Improved Players of the Season

Jay SchaefferContributor IIIDecember 20, 2012

Philadelphia 76ers' Most and Least Improved Players of the Season

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    The Philadelphia 76ers have struggled out of the gates this season, but there have been several positives to take away from the first two and a half months of the 2012-2013 NBA season. Several players have greatly improved from last season, which gives Sixers' fans hope for the future. However, some players have regressed from previous seasons, which is a cause of concern going forward.

    Luckily for Sixers' fans, the players who improved the most are the team's best players, while the players who regressed the most are role players. The development of the most improved players on the Sixers should make the Sixers a legitimately good team if Andrew Bynum is able to play this season.

    However, if Bynum is unable to play at all this season, the regression of the role players could cost the Sixers a playoff spot. When a star like Bynum goes down, role players must step up and contribute in the star's absence. This has not been the case for the 76ers, as the big-men role players have proved to be incapable of stepping in for Bynum.

    Here are the Sixers' three most improved players and three least improved players so far this season:

Most: Jrue Holiday

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    Jrue Holiday has emerged as a force for the Philadelphia 76ers this season. Holiday has a shot to be an All-Star and take home the Most Improved Player award for the entire NBA.

    Jrue's scoring has gone from 13.5 to 18.4 points per game, while also increasing his assists per game from 4.5 to 8.9. In fact, Holiday is third in the NBA in assists so far this season. His improved shooting and passing numbers have lead to an increase of four points in his player efficiency rating. 

    Holiday can still improve in several aspects of the game. For instance, Holiday needs to cut down on his long two-point shots, as these shots are the worst shots in basketball. Also, Holiday needs to get to the free-throw line more often. His current free-throw rate is .22, which is below average for a point guard.

Most: Thaddeus Young

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    Thaddeus Young has been the Sixers' most important player if on-court impact is considered. When Young is on the court, the Sixers are 18.6 points better per 48 minutes than when he is off the court so far this season.

    The bottom line is that the Sixers need to give this guy the ball more often. He is shooting the ball about two more times per game than last season, while shooting over 20 percent better from the field.

    Another impressive feat that Young has accomplished over the past few seasons is cutting back his three-point attempts. Early in Young's career, he shot a lot of threes and shot a respectable 34 percent on those attempts.

    However, Doug Collins has taught Thaddeus that he is more effective when he takes more shots closer to the basket. Since Collins has taken over, Young has shot only 26 three-point attempts over the last three seasons including zero this season. Comparatively, Young shot 321 three-point attempts in his first three years in the league.

    Young has been fantastic this season, and he looks like he is only getting better at 24 years of age.

Most: Evan Turner

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    Evan Turner has been the Sixers' most ridiculed player since being drafted second overall in the 2010 NBA draft. However, Turner has not let the criticism get to him, as he has improved in every year since being drafted.

    Turner has improved in every area of his game from last season, as he is averaging career-highs in points, rebounds and assists. Turner has also improved his much-maligned jump shot, as he is shooting a career high 46.8 percent from the three. 

    Although some people may criticize Turner for his increase in turnovers from last season, his turnovers per minute are actually about the same as last season.

    However, one area where Turner is regressing in is his defense. Turner was great last year on defense, as the 76ers allowed just 94 points per 100 possessions while he was on the floor.

    This season, the Sixers are allowing 106 points per 100 possessions when Turner is on the court. In addition, Turner allowed his man to accumulate just a 14.5 player efficiency rating last season, while this season he is allowing his man to average a 16.1 player efficiency rating.

    In spite of his regressing defense, Turner is having a career year for the 76ers.

Least: Lavoy Allen

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    Lavoy Allen had a very promising rookie year after being selected in the second round of the 2011 NBA draft. However, unfortunately this season has not been as promising for the young man out of Temple.

    The aspect of Allen's game this season which is most concerning has been his defense. Last season, Allen showed his potential to be a defensive stopper. However, this season he has struggled mightily. The Sixers allowed 98 points per 100 possessions last season with Allen on the floor, but they are letting up 106 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor this season. 

    Allens' defense hasn't been his only problem, as he is struggling on the offensive end of the floor as well. Although Allen is averaging about one more point per game this season, he is shooting almost 30 percent worse from the field than what he shot last season. Allen's rebounding has also regressed from last season, as he is grabbing about three less rebounds per 48 minutes this season.

    Lavoy Allen has struggled mightily this season, which is not a good sign for the Sixers, as he is in the first year of a two-year, $6 million contract.

Least: Spencer Hawes

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    Spencer Hawes has been very disappointing thus far this season. Hawes played very well at times last season, and he was expected to be the starting center during Andrew Bynum's absence. 

    However, Hawes has lost his starting spot to a combination of Kwame Brown and Lavoy Allen. The fact that Hawes lost his spot to Kwame Brown is all anyone needs to know about his season.

    The Sixers are actually about eight-points better per 48 minutes with Hawes on the bench than on the floor. Last season coach Doug Collins looked past Hawes' terrible defense because he was producing on offense. However, Hawes has been bad on offense this season too, as his player efficiency rating has dropped from 18.1 last year to 15.3 this season.

    Hawes received a two-year, $13 million extension with the Sixers this past offseason, and that extension is looking more and more like a mistake. 

Least: Nick Young

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    The Philadelphia 76ers brought Nick Young in to replace Lou Williams as a potent scorer off the bench. However, Young has been atrocious for the Sixers so far this season.

    Young is scoring a respectable 10.1 points per game, but it is the way he is scoring that is the reason he has been so bad. Young is shooting just 39.7 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from the three. In addition, Young's PER is just 11.7, well below the league average. 

    Nick Young's defense has been just as bad, if not worse, than his offense. The Sixers are allowing 110 points per 100 possessions with Young on the floor this season. In addition, the Sixers are 1.2 points worse with Young on the floor per 48 minutes.

    The Sixers cannot afford to have such a selfish basketball player on their team if he is not going to produce. Luckily for the Sixers, they only signed Young to a one-year deal.

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