When you're a Philadelphia fan, you can't help but dream about what could be.
With four major teams all picked to contend before their respective seasons began, things looked promising. But how quickly dreams can become nightmares: The Phillies scrapped and clawed and limped to a .500 record. The Eagles laid a giant 4-12 egg. The Flyers have not been informed that the lockout has ended yet.
And then there are the Sixers.
We already know what we know at this point: They lack defense. They lack toughness. They lack a legitimate post presence. They lack depth.
And when one thing goes awry in basketball, it typically sets off a chain of events. In this case, a team full of shooters feels the pressure to rely on the jump shot, and so far that has panned out poorly. Nearly 63 percent of Philly's shot attempts have come from outside the paint, and the 76ers have been hitting those shots at a paltry 38 percent clip.
At this point, to dream that any of it can change this season may be one of the "pipe" variety. The light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is the anticipated return/debut of Andrew Bynum, but that light has been been shining for close to a year and may flicker for a while upon its return (how's that for an extended metaphor?).
The Plan B would be to fill the voids that currently exist. To find "types" of players who can serve that role, if not the player himself.
One of those "types" would be that classic, back-to-the basket, big body, high-percentage shooter who can demand the double team on offense and make players think twice about going to the rim on defense. Someone like...Pau Gasol!
Okay, sure, maybe not the Pau we've seen so far this season, but the 2001-12 version? The one who averages over 18 points, nine rebounds and close to two blocks a game for his career while shooting almost 52 percent from the field? Yes, all of those numbers have declined, and declined dramatically this year, but could it be that the reason for that resides more from chemistry issues than aging faster than an Hollywood actress once she turns 40?
And, if not, at least we know that's the mold of the player that the Sixers could benefit from. Plus, we already know how effective he and another certain seven footer can be when on the court together:
Something else this team needs is a veteran "glue guy," a vocal leader who can rally the troops, both on and off the court. Tony Battie essentially fit that role last season. Royal Ivey is the closest resemblance to that player this time around. But, both players were often the 13th man, and it can be hard to lead by example in that role. Yet that's the type of quality needed for winning teams, though it so often gets overlooked.
What are the Sixers lacking most?
Some energy and hustle would be nice, too. Thaddeus Young does his share, but one man can't go it alone. Evan Turner has his moments, but too often, his play is misguided and his emotions serve to his and the team's detriment.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Reggie Evans could be one of the most underrated role players in the league. He is among the likes of Bruce Bowen, Raja Bell and Matt Barnes in recent years as unsung complementary pieces the Sixers once had in their grasp but let go of only to later rue the decision.
Wouldn't it be nice to see something like this coming off the bench again?
But alas, we find ourselves back in reality. Back to a team that fades like the memory of its last championship 30 years ago. Back to a city with just one of them in that time span, which finds itself sitting in the nightmare of underachieving mediocrity, which is the present day.
Statistics are accurate as of Jan. 23, 2013.