In the preseason, the Philadelphia 76ers were believed to be serious contenders after they signed superstar free agent Elton Brand. Expectations were high after finally adding a reliable post scorer, thinking was that the Sixers could fast break whenever they needed to, but could always throw the ball into Brand if nothing was going for them. Eagerly, the rest of the world awaited their debut.
So far, however, things have been mediocre at best. Philadelphia has a miserable record, several games under .500. Head coach Maurice Cheeks has been fired by the front office, and Brand has not fit in like he was supposed to. Worse, Brand recently dislocated his right shoulder and will now sit out for about a month, at a time when his team is struggling.
Many things have gone wrong for Philly so far. When Brand was still playing, he was not properly incorporated into the offense. The 76ers force fed Brand way too often and other guys did not get nearly enough touches to be successful. Brand himself was forced to run the court every possession and then do something with the ball after vigorously playing defense just before. Brand has worn out and things just aren't how they should be.
What Philadelphia needed to do was run the court every time they were able to. Then, if nothing was available, Brand could go to work down low. By making Brand post every trip down, guys like Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala just aren't allowed to score and play offense like they are used to. It's a lot like the Phoenix Suns and Shaq: Feed your big only if you have to. Phoenix is beginning to realize that, hopefully the 76ers will too.
Now that Brand is out with an injury, it is likely that Philly is going to start fast breaking again, just like they did last year. I actually feel that Brand going down may have been a good thing, as it forces everyone to regroup, start running and gunning, and continue their style once Brand returns.
Miller and Iguodala will get their confidence back and will play better, Thaddeus Young will continue to grow, and Maresse Speights will get valuable playing time. Once Brand comes back, look out.
The Sixers still do need a new coach, however. The two that immediately come to mind are Avery Johnson and Eddie Jordan.
Personally, I'd perfer Jordan because I think he has learned how to coach an uptempo team in Washington, something Avery Johnson refuses to do. Jordan would be perfect in getting this team back on track by making them run and then reincorporating Elton Brand into the mix. Though Jordan has never really coached a good big man before, I'm sure he could figure out exactly what he needs to do.
The Philadelphia 76ers clearly have a lot of potential and a lot of problems. We all saw what they could do in last year's playoffs, so we know that Philly is much better than this. Once Philly takes a moment to regroup, re-strategize and retool their coaching vacancies, I'd look for this team to start competing once again.
I'd love to hear what you guys think about this, give me any thoughts.