Where Would the Sixers Be Had They Not Traded for Andrew Bynum?
Hindsight is a very beneficial thing sometimes. Maybe you could've gotten an "A" in that public speaking class if you hadn't corrected the teacher. Perhaps you didn't have to eat an entire pizza that time you threw up.
Lately, hindsight has weighed heavily on the minds of Philadelphia 76ers fans and, very likely, at least a few within the organization as well.
Although the news is getting better with Andrew Bynum's long-awaited debut in town slated for around the All-Star break, could it be too late to repair the sinking ship that is the current reality of the team? In the midst of an astonishing free fall, from 12-9 to 16-23, it has some wondering, "Maybe if they hadn't traded for Bynum..." and "Perhaps with another year of Andre Iguodala..."
So, with the assistance of Jack "Captain Hindsight" Brolin, we take a look at what could have been for the team that isn't so far removed from a Game 7 appearance in the conference semifinals. Hope you don't throw up again...
Statistics are accurate as of Jan. 16.
Who's Back In? Andre Iguodala
Of course, if Andrew Bynum doesn't get traded, that directly affects others in the deal as well. One of whom is Andre Iguodala.
Iguodala's career regression has essentially continued this season in Denver. Although he's averaging close to a point-and-a-half more per game than last year, his field-goal and —if this was even possible— free-throw percentages are at an all-time low. His rebounds and assists per game are the lowest in years and his turnovers are the highest since back when he was knocking down more than 18 a night, hitting foul shots at an 82 percent clip and, thus, could justify turning the ball over so much.
If he were instead still in Philly, it's hard to believe Iguodala's numbers would be much worse than what they are, but it could be argued that they would be better. Without the move to another organization for the first time after eight years in one city, without new teammates, a new role and new expectations, Iggy—who is known to get in his own head at times (again, refer to his declining free-throw percentage)—may have been looser and ultimately more productive on the offensive end of the court.
More important, though, would be his defensive presence.
Lately, it's tough to know whether the Sixers are playing basketball or playing matador on the floor. To say their defense has been porous is to insult pores. But when you allow 109 points to a New Orleans Hornets team that averages 91, you bring it upon yourself. One mainstay in Iguodala's game, even as other aspects decline, is his outstanding ability to stifle his opposing player.
Right now, it's an ability Doug Collins would like more of on his current roster.
Who's Back In? Nikola Vucevic
The key incoming player in the Sixers' summer megadeal was, of course, Bynum. The key outgoing one was Iguodala.
So far in Orlando, Nik Vucevic has been everything the Sixers hoped he would be when they drafted him and everything they figured he couldn't be when they let him go.
As presently composed, Philly is desperately lacking a rebounding force and a low-post presence on their active roster. Meanwhile, it really is a small world after all out there, because guess who's serving those roles for the Magic? Yes, Vucevic is having his coming-out party in Disney World, putting up a double-double and over a block a game.
To put it into perspective, his 11.1 rebounds are nearly four more per game than the Sixers' leader. And looking back, giving Vuc, who fell out of favor with Collins during the postseason, another year to grow could have negated the need to trade for...well, a rebounding force and low-post presence.
Who Else Is In? Moe Harkless
When the Sixers drafted Moe Harkless, there were many who found it curious they would select yet another long, stat-stuffing "tweener" in the mold of an Iguodala or Evan Turner. It led to speculation that Iggy would finally be dealt. They were right. But most didn't anticipate that Harkless would be as well.
Although his stats are nothing to write back to the Delaware Valley about, there is still a big upside that exists in the teenager, as opined about earlier in the season.
Who's Out? Jason Richardson, Kwame Brown, Damian Wilkens
Another moving piece in the Bynum deal was Jason Richardson, the only tangible piece the Sixers have to show for the trade thus far. Unfortunately, the 11-year veteran is continuing to show signs of aging, and his numbers reflect as much, putting up statistics well below his career averages nearly across the board.
Kwame Brown has long passed his prime, which occurred sometime in high school, shortly before he was a first overall draft pick. Damien Wilkins never had a prime, although one hell of a pedigree, including an uncle in the Hall of Fame.
Both have essentially been roster fillers for Philly. With the return of Iguodala, Vucevic and Harkless, there would be no spaces for them to fill.
Currently, Lavoy Allen, the same Lavoy Allen who supplanted Nik Vucevic in the playoff rotation last season, is starting at center for the Sixers. On Tuesday, he and I had the same amount of rebounds against the Hornets.
Meanwhile, Vucevic had 16 on Wednesday against the Pacers, who are actually a good basketball team!
So, the center is the easy part—as is the point guard, because there is no hindsight when it comes to Jrue Holiday's continued rise to stardom.
Iguodala, if he was not traded elsewhere returns as the shooting guard. Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young keep their roles in respective forward spots.
However, if Vucevic were to put up the same numbers in Philly as he is right now in Orlando, Collins might decide to try Spencer Hawes in the 4 and Thad back on the bench —where he's done quite well—as he's considered doing upon Bynum's return to utilize a "twin towers" dynamic.
Who's on the Bench?
In its current makeup, the Sixers returned just five players from the 2011-12 campaign. Two of those were Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen. Both of them have taken a step backward.
For Allen, he is simply not a starting center. Hell, he really isn't a center. And yet that's what he's been in his sophomore season.
One trade Philly still pulls the trigger on would be to acquire Dorell Wright. In theory, it still looks like a good addition. In reality, the jury is out on the shooter who has yet to consistently locate his shot.
One signing Philly still makes is for Nick Young. Reason being, he most closely resembles the player they let go via free agency and weren't planning to re-sign anyway: Lou Williams. So far, a poor-man's Lou is a fair assessment of Swaggy's performance.
With a more stable starting five, the aforementioned four would most likely see less minutes on the floor and thus be more effective and less exposed.
Harkless, fellow rookie Arnett Moultrie and a Royal Ivey-type (like Royal Ivey) would round out the roster.
And just like that, the Sixers are again a playoff team capable of winning a round or two, as opposed to a disjointed team plummeting toward the lottery.
Of course, perhaps Bynum returns and everything falls back into place. In that case, all bets are off. But I don't have the benefit of foresight...