76ers: Great Athletes, but are They Great Shooters?

Michael DembyCorrespondent IJuly 8, 2008

The 76ers, fresh off a season in which they surprisingly made the playoffs, are major players in this summer’s free agent market.  They are wheeling and dealing, trying to clear up enough cash to bring in an All-Star player. 

Rumors have it that they are aggressively pursuing power forwards Elton Brand and Josh Smith.  The Sixers already have a talented young nucleus in Andre Iguodala, Samuel Dalembert, and Thaddeus Young.  Also, they have an underrated veteran point guard in Andre Miller to run the show.  

Elton Brand would provide the post scoring that they are lacking, plus another veteran presence.  But, would he be able to keep up with a high-octane style with his history of injuries?

Josh Smith is a young and super talented player who can run the floor, finish on the break, and is a beast of a shot blocker.  He has barely scratched the surface of his potential and would fit the Sixers’ style of play. 

However, their current roster is missing something that even the addition of either one of these highly coveted free agents could not provide: a legitimate outside shooter.  Guards such as Willie Green and Louis Williams, and even A.I., are only average shooters.

Now, I’m not saying they should not go after Smith or Brand, as either one of them would be a significant upgrade over Reggie Evans or oft-injured Shavlik Randolph. 

Recent history has shown that championship teams have had perimeter threats that stretched defenses and allowed open lanes for penetration.  Last year, the Celtics had Eddie House, Ray Allen, and James Posey. 

The year before that, Tony Parker destroyed the Cavaliers with his penetration through the help of Brent Barry, Michael Finley, and Robert Horry there to space the floor.  In the early 2000s, the three peat Lakers had Horry (again) and Derek Fisher.  I could go on and on. 

And, for a team that loves to get out in transition as much as the Sixers do, a three-point specialist adds a new headache for defenses.  The D'Antoni-coached, Steve Nash-led Suns were a perfect example of this, having their perimeter shooters float behind the arc in fast break situations.

There are a number of free agents out there that could fill this need, including Ben Gordon, J.R. Smith, and Sasha Vujacic.  If the 76ers can snag either Brand or J. Smith, along with a perimeter scorer, they could start to really make moves in the Eastern Conference.