How Should Philadelphia 76ers Manage Minutes in Season's Final Weeks?
Nearly half a century ago, the Rolling Stones had their official coming out party in the United States with their hit "Time Is On My Side." And, considering that the ageless wonders just put out yet another album and are about to embark upon yet another tour, I guess they were right.
Time, however, is not on the Philadelphia 76ers' side. With only a handful of games remaining in a forgettable season and their fate all but sealed, it's simply playing time that needs to be determined. The potential blessing in disguise of it all—and yes, perhaps I'm grasping at straws to find a positive here—is that, with nothing to play for but pride, it's an ideal time for coach Doug Collins to see what he has beyond the regular rotation.
Whether it's allowing the youngsters to spread their wings, giving the vets on a final year the opportunity to earn themselves an extension or testing the mainstays in other roles, this final stretch will be the perfect chance to plan ahead.
There are 240 total minutes to go around in any given game. In honor of the quintessential timeless rock band, the following is the suggested distribution for each man on the active roster for the remaining eight...
"Can't Get No Satisfaction": Kwame Brown, Royal Ivey, Nick Young
One of the biggest draft busts in recent memory, Kwame Brown did nothing to overcome that stigma in his first season in Philly. Fans are hoping there won't be a second, but with a player option and a generous salary forthcoming for an end-of-the-bench player, get ready for another year of, well, not much.
A consummate professional, Royal Ivey is still simply a dime-a-dozen player who has lately found himself as the fourth option at point guard when it's really not necessary to have more than three on the roster.
Meanwhile, Nick Young is the biggest enigma of them all. In and out of both the trainer's room and Collins' doghouse all season, he seems to have permanently remained in the latter since returning from his latest injury. Hard to conceive how one goes from a key reserve to a starter to completely forgotten all in a matter of months, but it's safe to say that the free-agent-to-be will be one and done as a Sixer.
Suggested Minutes: 0
"Start Me Up": Justin Holiday, Charles Jenkins, Dorell Wright
Sure, the newest 76er, Justin Holiday, may have been picked up to placate his brother, Jrue, but the numbers he put up this year in the Developmental League, where he was the leader in steals with 2.43 per game, certainly warrant some sort of extended look.
Charles Jenkins was another midseason acquisition, whom the Sixers actually traded a future second-round pick for. Since then, he's barely sniffed the court. Although the sacrifice wasn't great, one would assume management saw something in him to bring him to town. Might as well see if he's worth holding on to.
As for Dorell Wright, he's apparently taken the opposite path of teammate Nick Young. Deep in Collins' doghouse for most of the year, he's finally found his stroke as of late. His skill set may be intriguing enough to consider re-signing him, though extended minutes have seemed to expose him.
Suggested Minutes: 15
"Gimme Shelter": Lavoy Allen and Arnett Moultrie
Whether it was due to a bust of a trade (Andrew Bynum) or a bust of a signing (Brown), the Sixers were sorely lacking when it came to big men. However, it may also be due to their coach coddling two of the younger ones on the roster.
Now in his second year, it still remains difficult to get a read on Lavoy Allen. Primarily forgotten about by Collins last season until he leapfrogged Nik Vucevic in the rotation during the playoffs, he showed quite a bit of moxie during the Celtics series, but the momentum didn't really carry over to this year. Part of it could be due to being played out of position at center and part could be his inconsistent minutes. Regardless, there's no time like the present to figure out if he fits into the team's future plans.
Meanwhile, the rookie Arnett Moultrie must be wondering what he has to do to get an extended blow on the court. All he does is make baskets when he does. It's looking like the organization made a colossal mistake in giving up on Vucevic too soon; it would behoove them not to make that same mistake twice.
Suggested Minutes: 20
"Mixed Emotions": Spencer Hawes, Damien Wilkins, Thaddeus Young
One player whom Collins can't be blamed for his inconsistent play is Spencer Hawes, who has been given ample opportunity to prove his worth during his tenure in town. However, since March 3, he has averaged over 15 points and nearly 10 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. Furthermore, he's still only 24 years old with room for growth. Might as well ride the hot hand and see if the momentum—and subsequent confidence boost—carries over into next season.
Speaking of hot hands, career journeyman Damien Wilkins was a forgotten man for most of this season. On March 2, he was a DNP—Coach's Decision for the 23rd time this year. Since then, he has averaged 12.3 ppg, scoring in double figures in 11 of 16 games—most of those as a starter—including two for over 20. As a result, he may have played himself into a new contract. Like Hawes, it can't hurt to ride the wave out and see where it takes them.
In a season full of inconsistent play from inconsistent players, Thaddeus Young has remained a rock. The heart and soul of the team, you know what to expect from him on a nightly basis. No need to toy with a working formula.
Suggested Minutes: 30
"Get off of My Cloud": Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner
They are the two centerpieces of the team. Ideally, the sky's the limit. However, one has a clear future in Philly while the other's future remains unclear.
This season, Jrue Holiday transformed himself from respectable to near-elite. Lately, the production has been slipping, though it could be attributed to the heavy burden of trying to carry an underachieving squad on his shoulders for most of the year. Some time off the ball could help lighten the load, as well as determine if his scoring prowess could further improve as a primary "2."
And then there's Evan Turner. Oh, Evan, what do we do with you?
A stat stuffer one night, and the invisible man the next. Will the Sixers keep and extend him, will they trade him this offseason or will they simply let him go? One thing ET has shown is that he is more engaged—and thus more productive—when the ball is in his hands. Therefore, these last couple of weeks, they should at least try to give him extended minutes at the point, while keeping Jrue on the court as shooting guard.
What Collins and others may realize is that a simple switcharoo between the two could be the answer they've been looking for since...well, they had The Answer.
Suggested Minutes: 35
No, "Suggested Units" is not a Rolling Stones song (although, it does have a nice "suggestive" tone to it). Instead, just as it indicates, it's the two suggested units the Sixers can play with these remaining games.
Evan Turner: PG
Jrue Holiday: SG
Damien Wilkins: SF
Thad Young: PF
Spencer Hawes: C
Charles Jenkins: PG
Justin Holiday: SG
Dorell Wright: SF
Lavoy Allen: PF
Arnett Moultrie: C