Prior to the start of the 2007-2008 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers were expected to make a run at the top overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft. The reality is quite the contrary to this. The 76ers will not only not get the #1 overall pick, but will not even be in the lottery. The Philadelphia 76ers will make the playoffs for the first time since 2002-’03. This Sixers team is making history with every game that they play. There are many reasons as to why this is happening, but the top 5 are as follows:
5. Trading of Kyle Korver
When Kyle Korver was traded, two things happened. The team’s three-point percentage plummeted but their defense improved. New General Manager, Ed Stefanski looked to dump salary. In actuality, he dumped a liability—A Defensive Liability. Kyle was lucky if he even knew how to spell defense. Hey Kyle, D-E-F-E-N-S-E!!! It’s not all about the three-point shot. You may be a big white boy, but learn to do some other things. Having that shot got you drafted and it will keep you in the league but it may not give you playing time. Hey Kyle, It’s time to hit the gym to work on your game. Take the trade as a rude awakening. If you do that then not only will you be helping yourself but also the Philadelphia 76ers and the Utah Jazz! After all, Ed Stefanski helped the 76ers by shipping your tail out of here and dumping your salary to make room for a big name free agent this summer.
4. Billy King Being Fired & Ed Stefanski Being Hired
When Billy King was fired, it gave the 76ers the chance to bring in a new face to the front office. Billy was the President and General Manager of the team since 1998. In that time, he had made many good decisions but even more bad decisions. He cannot draft to save his life. He would also give players on his own team contracts that they were not worthy of. Samuel Dalembert was given a 6 year $10 million contract. At the same time, King gave Willie Green and Kyle Korver similar deals. If given the chance, King would probably have re-signed Derrick Coleman, Tyrone Hill, and George Lynch again. Ed Stefanski is a brilliant mind when it comes to basketball decisions. He was the man in New Jersey behind the drafting of Richard Jefferson, Nenad Krstic and Marcus Williams. He was also the backbone behind the trades that brought Vince Carter and Jason Kidd to New Jersey. Imagine what he can do in Philly with that resume.
3. Maurice Cheeks Receiving a Contract Extension
Around February 20, 2008, Head Coach Maurice Cheeks was given a one-year contract extension despite not making the playoffs in his two years as head coach of the 76ers. You are probably thinking, how a one-year extension makes such a difference. This extension gave Mo the confidence to coach how he coaches. He became more relaxed and let his players play. This one-year extension told Mo that the front office felt that he would be their guy at the coaching helm for the future and they would work out the details for longer terms later-on.
2. It’s Miller Time!!!
After the departure of Eric Snow, the Philadelphia 76ers did not have a “True Point Guard”. They had Allen Iverson. He’s still not sure whether he’s a point guard or a shooting guard. When Allen Iverson was traded at the mid-way point of the 2006-’07 season, their “True Point Guard” was acquired in Andre Miller. He is able to groom Lou Williams to be the next point guard of this team. He also makes everyone around him better. He is that point guard who can be compared to some of the greats of today: Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, etc. Miller has one more season left on his contract in Philly after this year, and then we will see what happens with him. They would be foolish not to re-sign this “True Point Guard”.
All I have to say is Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, Jason Smith, Andre Iguodala, Rodney Carney, and Willie Green. The afore mentioned players all have four years of experience or less. They are all playing like players who are just being given a chance. When Ed Stefanski came in as General Manager, there were rumors that he told Mo Cheeks to play the youngsters or Cheeks would be looking for a new job. Cheeks much obliged and it’s paying great dividends for the team. Thaddeus Young is playing like a potential Rookie of the Year candidate. Many doubted this draft choice, but that was because they did not know much about this freshman early entrant. Now they regret that doubt.
Of all of the teams in this year’s NBA playoffs, one of the most dangerous will be this young Philadelphia 76ers team. They have the ability to and have already beaten every team in the Eastern Conference playoffs at least once during the regular season. Plus, don’t forget, IT’S A WHOLE NEW SEASON COME PLAYOFFS!!!!