5 Reasons Why the Sixers' Roster Isn't Meshing
On Friday night, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Sacramento Kings to win their second game in a row. This was news in Philly, even though most teams beat the Kings and most teams win two in a row—both with regularity.
It was news, however, because it was the first winning “streak” of its kind since Nov. 30.
Not only is that an eye-opening bulletin for a team thought to contend, but it is indicative of a much bigger, underlying issue: This roster is not coming together the way many thought it would.
Yes, there could be a $17 million solution who’s been wearing street clothes and funny-looking hairstyles on the bench all season who may return soon, but one man will not mask the issues that 13 or so others have helped to create.
With just five returnees from a team that came within a game of the conference finals last year, hindsight tells us that, with or without Bynum, expectations may have been unrealistically high with so much offseason transition.
Regardless, it’s where we find ourselves in present day, with a bunch of pieces not making a whole, who make news when they beat a perennial lottery team for a second consecutive win.
The following are the biggest reasons why this version of the Sixers hasn't jelled to date.
Reason No. 1: No Emphasis on Defense
The last time the Sixers toiled with greatness, in 2001, it was predicated upon an emphasis on stifling, suffocating defense. Down low, you had the likes of Theo Ratliff, then Dikembe Mutombo, having a block party and Tyrone Hill helping to clean up the glass.
Meanwhile, George Lynch, Aaron McKie and Eric Snow were three of the better on-man defenders in the league. All of whom allowed Allen Iverson to take his chances and ultimately lead the league in steals.
That said, is there anyone currently on the roster who scares the offensive opponent? At all? Even a little?
Not really. And the scary part for Philly is that the damage can be done to them in a variety of different ways on any given night: Down low, beyond the arc and even at the foul line.
And this unfortunate fact, more than perhaps any other, is what will prevent them from being great again.
Reason No. 2: Lacking Toughness
Doug Collins calls them the “50/50” plays: The loose balls that both teams have an equal chance of grabbing. Yet this season, it’s been more like “20/80.”
One way players can compensate for their lack of size is to take charges. But have we really seen that happen often enough?
And it’s never a good thing when the free-throw line and no man’s land can be synonymous locations.
In a city where Rocky still reigns supreme, the intangibles and the dirty work matter. Far too often this season, they haven’t seemed to matter enough.
Overall, the Sixers seem like a bunch of nice guys. But you know what they say about nice guys: They don’t make the playoffs.
Reason No. 3: Lacking Depth
Question: What do Royal Ivey and Shelvin Mack have in common? How about Kwame Brown and Arnett Moultrie? Or Damien Wilkins and the ball boy?
Answer: Too much.
Whether it’s a backup to the backup point guard, a big body and nothing else or purely filler for the roster, there are too many redundancies on the team and not enough playmakers.
The “Night Shift” days of the Sixers’ bench being a strength were sadly short lived, which has put additional pressure on the starters to make more of an impact every night than should be expected.
Reason No. 4: Too Small
There are currently two active players on the Sixers who stand over seven-feet tall: One (Spencer Hawes) is convinced that he’s actually a foot shorter than that, and the other is Kwame Brown.
Their leading rebounder (Thaddeus Young) routinely guards opponents several inches taller and dozens of pounds heavier. Oh, and he leads the team with just 7.3 per game.
Their starting center for most of the season (Lavoy Allen) is listed at 6’9’’. Which means that 60 percent of the lineup at tipoff (Allen, Young and Evan Turner) have been playing out of position.
All of this adds up to one thing: Being small is a big problem.
Reason No. 5: No Clear On-Court Leadership
Coach Doug Collins can be extremely passionate and motivating. He often talks about “teachable moments” and has been known to light his share of fires under the feet of his disciples.
The problem is that, in the past, those fires would eventually burn his players out.
The solution is to find an equally passionate and motivating mentor on the court.
The additional problem is that said mentor is hard to identify.
Players like Jason Richardson and Royal Ivey have had reputations on past squads of being solid “locker-room” guys. But it can be quite difficult to be an effective leader if he can’t practice what he preaches. J-Rich has battled injuries all season, and Ivey has limited abilities.
Jrue Holiday has certainly led by example with his play on the court but can come off somewhat reserved and doesn’t seem like the type of person to get in a teammate’s face when needed. Meanwhile, Evan Turner lets his emotions get the best of him at times.
Every great time has at least one vocal leader who can both show and tell. In Philly, it’s time for him to either step up and speak out, or simply exist.
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