All in all, the Philadelphia 76ers had a remarkable season, rebounding from a 3-13 start to finish the season 41-41.
A lot of people will tell you that they did more harm than good in making the playoffs. Those people are dead wrong. The Sixers had a chance to win every game except the second in their series against the Miami Heat.
Our young guys gained great experience and never backed down against the team looking poised to win the championship this year. But most importantly, we learned that this team has lots of heart and promise, and that they are not as far from being contenders as most people will tell you.
Elton re-established himself as a Brand name, averaging 15 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.5 bpg during the regular season and elevating his play in the postseason as well.
Yeah, he's getting older, but this season gave me no reason to believe he is about to fall off. He has the fundamentals, basketball IQ and a mid-range jumper that won't abandon him as he gets older.
In fact, I expect to him to build on his first season with the Sixers that he wasn't either hurt or playing for Eddie Jordan. I expect him to be even better next year than he was this year.
Evan Turner was brilliant in the first round series on both ends. He was shooting the ball with confidence, taking the ball to rim, playing solid defense and pulling down rebounds.
I expect him to be in the gym a lot this summer and believe he is poised to have a breakout sophomore season, in which he will likely assume the starting shooting guard role, moving Jodie Meeks into a reserve role, though with his size, I could also see him developing into a starting small forward in the NBA.
The Sixers have picked up the $1 million option and will retain Jodie Meeks for next season. Meeks had a fine sophomore season and is line for a long NBA career as a sharpshooter. His emergence was one of the keys to the Sixers big turn-around this year. He will need to work to become a better defender, but overall this was quite a catch for Philly.
It's amazing that this guy dropped to 41st overall in the 2009 NBA draft and even more amazing that the Milwaukee Bucks gave him to us for Royal Ivey, Primoz Brezec and a second-round pick.
Louis Williams was one of the leading bench scorers in the NBA and along with Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner, turned the Sixers bench into one of the best in the league.
There's not a single point guard in the NBA that Jrue Holiday failed to outplay at least once this season. He is the future of the Sixers, and I expect one day he will be in the discussion for MVP.
Deron Williams- June 26, 1984 Drafted 2005 6'3", 209
Age 21, rookie season: 28.8 mpg, 10.8 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.4 reb, 0.8 stls, 42.1% F.G.'s, 41.6% 3pt.F.G,, 70.4% F.T.
Age 22, second season: 37 mpg, 16.2 ppg, 9.3 apg, 3.3 reb, 1 stls, 45.6% F.G.'s, 32.2% 3pt F.G., 76.7% F.T.
Age 23, third season: 37 mpg, 18.8 ppg, 10.5 apg, 3 reb, 1.1 stls, 50.7% F.G., 39.5% 3 pt F.G., 84.9% F.T.
Chris Paul- May 5, 1985 Drafted 2005 6'0", 175
Age 20, rookie season: 36 mpg, 16.1 ppg, 7.8 apg, 5.1 rpg, 2.2 stls, 43% F.G., 28.2% 3pt F.G., 84.7% F.T.
Age 21, second season: 37 mpg, 17.3 ppg, 8.9 apg, 4.4 rpg, 43.7% F.G., 35% 3 pt F.G., 81.8% F.T.
Age 22, third season: 38 mpg, 21.1 ppg, 11.6 apg, 4 rpg, 2.7 stls, 48.8% F.G., 36.9% 3 pt F.G.
Derrick Rose- October 4, 1988 Drafted 2008
Age 20, rookie season: 37 mpg, 16.8 ppg, 6.3 apg, 3.9 rpg, 0.8 stls, 47.5% F.G., 22.2% 3 pt F.G., 78.8% F.T.
Age 21, second season: 37 mpg, 20.8 ppg, 6 apg, 3.8 rpg, 0.7 stls, 48.9% F.G., 26.7% 3 pt F.G., 76.6% F.T.
Age 22, third season: 37.5 mpg, 25 ppg, 7.7 apg, 4.1 rpg, 1 stl, 44.5% F.G., 33.2% 3 pt F.G., 86% F.T.
Rajon Rondo- February 22, 1986 Drafted 2006 6'1", 171
Age 20, rookie season: 23.5 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 3.8 apg, 3.7 rpg, 1.6 stls, 41.8% F.G., 20.7% 3 pt F.G., 64.7% F.T.
Age 21, second season: 30 mpg, 10.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.2 rpg, 1.7 spg, 49% F.G., 26.3% 3 pt F.G., 61.1% F.T.
Age 22, third season: 33 mpg, 11.9 ppg, 8.2 apg, 5.2 rpg, 1.9 stls, 50% F.G., 31% 3 pt F.G. 64.2% F.T.
Jrue Holiday- aka The Jruth - aka Cali's Calm Cool Collect Killa - June 12, 1990 6'4", 180
Age 19, rookie season: 24 mpg, 8 ppg, 3.8 apg, 2.6 rpg, 1.1 stls, 44.2% F.G., 39% 3 pt F.G., 75.6% F.T.
Age 20, second season: 35 mpg, 14 ppg, 6.5 apg, 4 rpg, 1.5 stls, 44.6% F.G. 36.5% 3 pt F.G., 82.3% F.T.
Take into account that Holiday, unlike any of these other players, was forced to play out of position in college.
In his rookie season, he performed well in limited opportunities (in a lost season under Eddie Jordan). His second season, he got the chance to start at point guard, his natural position, and proved he will be a stellar player on both ends of the floor in this league for years.
He is an incredible defender and athlete that can cover both guard positions. He can shoot the three off the pick or spotting up, he has sick handle, great passing ability and the calm and in-control demeanor you see in guys like Chris Paul, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd.
He also has a beautiful left hand and is a great finisher around the rim. There is no doubt in my mind that he will continue to improve upon his already solid mid range shot and post game. He is a dedicated and humble guy who will also likely bulk up a bit this summer.
With his size and athleticism, he has the potential to torment smaller point guards, and at 6'4", that's pretty much everybody. It is truly going to a special thing watching Jrue Holiday over the course of the next decade. It's beyond amazing that he slipped to No. 17 in the 2009 NBA draft.
Looking to the offseason and the many looming questions that exist.
The series and the Sixers season ended against the Miami Heat in a way very similar to the majority of the Sixers' tragic losses this season (and anyone who watched every game this year knows there were plenty of those), with Doug Collins designating Andre Iguodala as the go-to-guy in crunch time.
Most of the questions about the offseason seem to have been moved to the back burner of late due to Iguodala's lack of ability to simply say he is looking forward to playing for the Sixers next year, the fact that he missed his exit meeting, and Kate Fagan is reporting that he has likely played his last game in a Sixers uniform.
On one hand, I'd like to defend Iguodala, simply because the average Philadelphia fan will bash him left and right for not being a premier scorer and doesn't appreciate all the other things that he brings to the team.
Also, despite the fact that I felt taking a 20-footer down by three with 10 seconds left was incredibly dumb, can we really blame him for Doug Collins' decision to give him the ball? It's not like Iguodala is in the huddle in crunch time demanding the ball.
I feel that Doug Collins knows deep down that eventually Jrue Holiday is going to be the guy with the ball in his hands with the game on the line, but perhaps he didn't want to put that kind of pressure on a 20-year-old kid.
On the other hand, the demeanor that Iguodala displays at times is enough to make me sick. I mean, seriously, the Sixers had a great season, exceeded expectations and the guy can't even say that he is looking forward to playing for this young and quickly improving Sixers team next year.
It's sad that he lets the criticism get to him instead of using it as fuel and working on his jumper. It's sad because of all the Sixers that were interviewed, he was the only one who didn't seem excited about next year.
For a guy who was showing the ability to be a leader for a group that was one of the better teams in the second half of the year, it really leaves me wondering what is going to happen. Something has to change going into next year, and at this point, it's very unclear whether it will be Iguodala's attitude or his home.
I have very little confidence that the Sixers will be able to bring back something of equal value if they do decide to trade Andre Iguodala.
I don't see Memphis giving up Rudy Gay. I don't see the Rockets giving up Kevin Martin. I don't see the Lakers giving up Andrew Bynum despite what a cheap-shot artist he is. I don't see the Warriors giving up Monta Ellis.
I don't see the Sixers putting a package together capable of bringing Dwight Howard to town without gutting the team of the players needed to convince him to remain here.
I don't see the Pacers giving up Danny Granger. I don't see the Jazz giving up Al Jefferson.
Would I do any of these trades if I'm the Sixers? Yes, I'd probably do them all. But the Sixers are more likely to either keep him or trade him for some combination of cap space, young talent and a draft pick.
Will a $4 million qualifying offer be enough to keep Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes in town? I have to assume that there will be plenty of suitors for the 22-year-old Young, who was one of the league's leaders in field goal percentage.
Will the Sixers be willing to shell out $6-7 million a year to keep him? Is Spencer Hawes going to be a starting center in the NBA? He is an exceptional passer, but will his jumper ever become so lethal that it doesn't matter that he's only an average defender? I don't know.
But anyways, if the Sixers can convince the two of them to take the qualifying offers, they will have $63 million owed next season and basically the same team as last year, plus whoever they take with the 16th pick.
The Sixers will also have the $6.6 million expiring contract of Andres Nocioni as a possible trade chip, but who knows what Rod Thorn, Ed Stefanski and Tony DiLeo have up their sleeves?
I believe that if the same team returns for next season that this Sixers squad has a chance to win 50 games and secure home-court advantage in the first round.