Philadelphia 76ers' Lost and Not Found: Where Is Elton Brand?

Tyler Ward@twardyyyAnalyst IFebruary 15, 2011

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 27:  Elton Brand #42 of the Philadelphia 76ers in action during the game against the Miami Heat at the Wells Fargo Center on October 27, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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 Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Where is Elton Brand? Has anyone seen his face on any recent milk cartons? I'm wanting to know where he is right now. I know he's playing for the Philadelphia Sixers, but other than that, I have no idea.

In July 2008, the Sixers decided to make Brand one of the highest paid players in the NBA with an astounding five-year deal worth approximately $79.7 million. And the weird thing is, the Warriors offered more with a $90 million deal, but he decided to go to Philly and fall from grace.

Brand's sophomore season at Duke was bittersweet as the Blue Devils were upset by the Connecticut Huskies in the Final Four. However, Brand was named the consensus National Player of the Year.

Brand, along with William Avery and Corey Maggette, left Duke after the 1998-99 season and became the first Blue Devils to enter the NBA Draft early.

With the Chicago Bulls holding the first overall selection, they decided to tab Brand with the pick.

The Bulls, still recovering from the Michael Jordan era, thought Brand could lead them back to one of the strongest teams in the Eastern Conference.

At that time, the Bulls were one of the youngest teams in the league. With inexperience, the Bulls were bound to struggle.

In his rookie season, however, Brand played his part, as he led the Bulls with healthy averages of 20.1 points and 10 rebounds per game. But, the Bulls failed to live up to expectations, as they struggled to a losing record. Brand also shared the Rookie of the Year award with Houston Rockets guard Steve Francis.

Most players endure a "sophomore slump," but not in Brand's case. In fact, the power forward did even better, albeit not much.

He averaged 20.1 points per game again and narrowly increased his rebounding numbers to 10.1 per game. He placed second in the entire league in offensive rebounds per game, with 3.9.

After two great statistical seasons in Chicago, Brand was dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2001 for Brian Skinner and the draft rights to high school phenom Tyson Chandler.

As most people know, the Clippers have been a horrible team in the past and could be considered the laughingstock of the NBA. Brand was hoping to change that, but it didn't bode well for one of the best players in Duke history.

The Clippers finished the 2001-02 season with a 39-43 record, the most wins the team had recorded since the 1992-93 season (41-41). The team has a young core consisting of Brand, Maggette, Lamar Odom, and Darius Miles, but pieces just weren't in place for the team to become playoff bound.

Many could say that Brand was the best player on the Clippers—however, his scoring numbers slightly declined to 18.2, but his rebounding numbers increased to 11.6.

He also shot over 50 percent for the first time in his three-year career. Not only did he have a great statistical season, but Brand also became an NBA All-Star for the first time in his young career.

This was just the start of a nice run by Brand.

Over the next few seasons, Brand would become one of the most prominent power forwards in the NBA, but the Clippers seemed to never go anywhere.

Let's face it, there's always "that guy." That guy that is a great player, but is just stuck on a horrendous team. Brand was "that guy" for the Clippers. No matter how hard Brand tried, the Clippers would always end up with a losing record.

From 2002-07, Brand participated in 371 games and averaged 20.9 points and 10 rebounds in those contests. However, the Clippers managed to struggle to a 179-231 record.

There was one bright spot, though. In the 2005-06 season, the Clippers finished the year with a 47-35 record, along with clinching their first playoff berth since the 1996-97 season. The winning record was also their first since the 1991-92 season.

Brand was perhaps the main piece of their magical playoff-bound season, as he averaged a career-high 24.7 points per game, along with grabbing 10 rebounds per game. This was the sixth time he had averaged a double-double in his first seven seasons.

But, after the 2006-07 season, Brand's game managed to decline at a steady rate.

Prior to the 2007-08 season, Brand ruptured his left Achilles' tendon and was thought to miss the entire NBA season. He managed to return to the Clippers' lineup on April 2, 2008, and gave them 19 points in his season debut. He only played in eight games for the Clippers that year.

After the season, Brand opted out of the final year of his contract and became a free agent. Many thought it was confusing that he would give up $16.7 million to test free agent waters.

The Clippers signed point guard Baron Davis in the offseason and many thought that Brand would return to the team after his opt-out gave the Clippers monetary flexibility.

But, Brand would not return to the Clippers and instead, would sign a five-year, $79.7 million deal with the Sixers.

The power forward turned into a magician once he signed with Philly, as he would give a good disappearing act.

Since his arrival, Brand seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. Yes, he has participated in their games, but he has not put up the Brand-like numbers that we are all used to.

In his debut season with the Sixers, Brand sustained a shoulder injury, which would end his first year with the team. He only played in 29 games that season, averaging 13.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.

The next season would be even more disappointing. He would play in 76 games, but only starting 57 of those. Along the way, Brand averaged career-lows in points (13.1) and rebounds (6.1).

Yes, it may be because he is getting older. But there are quite a few players that are still playing great, despite their age (i.e. Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki).

Brand, however, has stepped it up just a tad this season, playing in 53 games and averaging 15.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

As of right now, the Sixers really don't need Brand to put up gaudy numbers, but to provide veteran leadership to a very young and talented team.

He is currently the second oldest player on the team, only behind Tony Battie. But, unlike Battie, Brand actually sees the floor for an extended amount of time, so his leadership can actually mean a great amount to Philly.

With a team that consists of Evan Turner, Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday, and Andre Iguodala, the Sixers could be a formidable team in a few seasons.

But for right now, if they want to be one of the middle-of-the-pack teams in the uprising Eastern Conference, they will need to rely on Brand's leadership and not playing abilities.

Although, it is still unfortunate to see an athletic Brand run around the court and averaging a double-double in the process. Those days seem to be gone, but if there's one thing the NBA has showed us, it's that anything can happen.

Maybe Brand can return to that form at some point. But for now, he hasn't and it may take some time to return to that level after two numerous injuries.

Yet, he is only 31 years-old. Yes, that may be old in NBA years, but overall, he's still got a lot left in the tank. He just has to show it and personally, I believe that is humanly possible.


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