Phladelphia 76ers' Doug Collins Takes First Steps in Defining Players' Roles

Haran KnightCorrespondent IJune 28, 2010

NEW YORK - MARCH 19:  Louis Williams #23 of the Philadelphia 76ers   against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 19, 2010 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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Although NBA teams don’t start their preseason until October, the 76ers' newly appointed head coach Doug Collins has done an excellent job so far. 

The first thing any leader in any environment must do upon his/her arrival is sell his system.  If nobody buys into your system, you find new people who will buy into it—or else you’ll be changing jobs quickly. 

NBA coaches Phil Jackson, Larry Brown, Greg Popovich, and Jerry Sloan are masters at getting players to accept their philosophies. 

The Sixers 2009-2010 season was doomed the moment Eddie Jordan said he was implementing his Princeton offense during the press conference of his hiring.  Jordan quickly lost the respect of his players, and it was known before the All Star break that he would only be in Philly for one season. 

The first thing Collins did as head coach was starting reaching out to his players, starting with Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand.  While many hope at least one of these overpaid disappointments is traded this summer, Collins has to approach them as if they’ll both be in Philly in October. 

While I disagree with him possibly starting Brand at center and Thaddeus Young at power forward, I do respect the fact that Collins has a plan. 

During his conversation with guard Louis Williams, coach Collins asked him if in the case he lost the starting point guard spot, would Williams be okay with coming off the bench.  I loved that question. 

With Jrue Holliday and rookie Evan Turner very likely becoming the starting backcourt, Williams will be the first guy off the bench.  Williams shouldn’t be a starting.  He has the potential to be an offensive spark the way Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson did during the Detroit Pistons' Bad Boys era.   

Reading between the lines, Collins question really was “Are you going to be a sixth man or trade bait?” 

Over the summer and definitely during the preseason, the Sixers will find more out about who’s willing to accept a lesser role if it means a more competitive team.  This is how championship teams are assembled. 

We’ll see if Williams can back up two players with less experience combined than he has.  If Iguodala remains a Sixer, will he defer to Turner if he’s indeed the better scoring option?  One of the reasons Samuel Dalembert was traded is because he didn’t like how he was used on the offensive end.  It was very likely he wasn’t going to be too fond of how Collins utilized him either. 

Lamar Odom understands the Lakers are a better team when he’s coming off the bench.  The Celtics' Big Three learned to cater to each other’s strengths in order to become champions in 2008. 

The sooner everyone’s roles are determined in Philly, the sooner the Sixers will be taken more seriously.  Seeing Doug Collins seeking to find out in May and June is definitely a good thing.