Entering the New Year means making New Year's resolutions, so why not make some for the 76ers" target="_blank">Philadelphia 76ers?
In order to make New Year's resolutions in general, you need to identify areas that can be improved upon and establish attainable goals. This concept can easily be applied to the Sixers this season as they have gone through their own ups and downs.
We all know the Sixers' main goal is to be an elite team contending for the championship. And honestly, they are getting to close to that stage. However, there are definitely areas of the game where they can improve upon this season in order to get even closer.
The Sixers' offensive production has not been as productive as it should be, and shot selection is part of the problem that they can shoot to fix (you see what I did there?).
In fact, they rank just 23rd in the league in field goal percentage, shooting a mediocre 43.8 percent from the field. Perhaps this is because they are too accustomed to the transition game and they do not flourish so well in the half-court offense.
But they need to grow accustomed to playing small-ball.
For example, Nick Young takes unnecessary shots from the outside, Spencer Hawes gets carried away sometimes with long shots, and Evan Turner can even improve on his shot selection at times. Unnecessary shots are virtually a waste of a possession and they pile up fast.
Fixing this leads to a more efficient and productive offense and it is just one of the little the things the Sixers can improve upon to maximize their talent.
Whether or not you think this is a top priority for the Sixers, it was on their to-do list.In fact, Ric Bucher reported they wanted to sign veteran point guard Shaun Livingston.
While Maalik Wayns is still learning to transition into the league, it seems as though the Sixers want a veteran backup, which means they probably do not think so highly of Royal Ivey (which isn't hard to believe due to his lack of production).
When Jrue Holiday is healthy, the Sixers have nothing to worry about here because he has proven that he can take on a large workload. However, when Holiday was hurt, Wayns and Ivey did not perform as well as the Sixers would have liked.
One would think they should explore the field for a big man, but Bucher also stated in his report that the Sixers do not want to add a big man if he will find his way on the bench.
Perhaps this is not a huge problem to fix, but nevertheless a problem the Sixers seem eager to address.
Compared to the entire league, the Sixers rank 25th in free throw percentage (72.5). Excluding Wayns, only three Sixers shoot better than 80 percent. This all needs to change.
One way of improving free throw shooting: getting to the line more often. This is clearly a huge part of the problem considering they only get to the line 18 times on average per game, ranking second worst in the league.
If the Sixers give themselves more opportunities, they are bound for more production here and overall easy points. This means guys like Turner and Holiday need to penetrate more in order to draw fouls.
Because the Sixers are not the most talented team out there, this is a simple area of the game where they should be thriving in order to gain some leverage over elite teams.
I guess I could dedicate an entire slide to wishing Andrew Bynum returns. However, If Bynum wants another max contract, he needs to play in the regular season. Assuming he comes back for that reason, the Sixers should immediately make it a top priority to fully utilize and maximize his abilities.
This means running a lot of plays through him, implementing a lot of pick-and-rolls, etc.
Right now, Holiday is doing a solid job in coming up clutch and being the primary guy. But Bynum would easily address the Sixers' rebounding woes and need for a big-man presence overall.
Also, keep in mind that he could easily help out Holiday and other players who can shoot from the outside. By forcing the double-team in the paint, he instantly creates an open spot on the perimeter. Having Bynum also no longer makes Thaddeus Young's size a problem.
In a way, he complements everyone just from his presence and the Sixers need to get as much as they can out of him.
The Sixers started off the season 10-6. Since then, they have lost 11 of their last 15 games.
The inconsistency does not get them anywhere. Instead, it just keeps them in the stage of mediocrity we all thought they had managed to escape.
In order for the Sixers to be a contender, they need to find a rhythm. While they have shown they are capable of defeating premier teams, they have also laid a few eggs against teams like the Detroit Pistons and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
They need to stride for consistency, and they certainly have the work ethic, coach and talent to do so. It's just a matter of putting it all together.
And more importantly, they need to do so before entering the playoffs.
After witnessing many teams overcome the odds in various sports, we know that the best team on paper does not always win. It's often the team with the hot-hand that shows up to win.
When the Sixers find their spark, they are a dangerous team. However, it is too often that that they find themselves off-beat and lose games that they should be winning if they want to consider themselves a contender.