With the Sixers bringing back former franchise icon Allen Iverson, the team is finally relevant again in the NBA.
However in the midst of all this attention people forget that the Sixers are struggling. The Sixers are on a current 8-game losing streak and while there is still much basketball to be played, the team is 5-14. Only the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets trail the Sixers in the eastern conference standings.
However as I stated earlier there is still much basketball to be played and the recent addition of Iverson could make a nice impact on the 76ers.
First of all let’s state that this team with its current roster is nowhere near as good as the East’s top three of Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, and Cleveland Cavs and probably not as good as the Atlanta Hawks. However I do think that with a late surge the Sixers could elevate themselves into a possible playoff appearance.
Iverson is not the same player he was six years ago. He can still score consistently on any given night, but Iverson’s play is not the same as it used to be although he can still score at a high level.
However his defense has fallen off greatly as he now plays the steal or nothing type of defense which doesn’t work. He isn’t as quick as he used to be and his crossover isn’t as dominant.
Basically at 34 the players Iverson used to dominate, he can only play well against now; while the players Iverson used to play well against, he may struggle a little bit. At 34 Iverson is not a top 10 player in this league so we can’t expect the Sixers to jump into the Eastern Conference’s upper echelon.
Now that we have that cleared up let’s look at what the Sixers have.
Elton Brand is not the player he once was. Brand used to be an extremely consistent 20-10 player, now Brand is only averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds. Samuel Dalembert is a nice shot blocker and a decent rebounder; however Dalembert is an offensively challenged center.
The bright spots for the Sixers would be Andre Iguadala, who is the team’s best player and main offensive threat; Thaddeus Young is a rising player who has started to get it going after struggling earlier in the season, and Lou Williams who is currently out for possibly another 40 games. The Sixers also have the young point guard Jrue Holiday.
Holiday would’ve been the starting point guard had Iverson never signed. I love Holiday’s upside and I do believe he has a nice future in this league but as of now he is still a project and watching him on the court he looks very raw.
The Sixers currently stand at 5-14, however many of the games the Sixers have lost they have played the teams close and lost when it came to crunch time. What the Sixers lack is a one-on-one scorer who can take you off the dribble.
Putting Iguadala in that situation exposes him; Iguadala is a tremendous athlete who takes advantages of inferior athletes. He is not a catch-and-shoot player and he is not a true shooter nor does he rely on handling the ball and dribble penetration.
Iguadala is the franchise player which is the problem; he has an $80 million contract and is probably a second- or third-option on a really good team.
What Iverson would bring is a player who can score consistently. Iverson can still get to the rim, and has established a decent outside jump shot. Iverson would be a player you have to guard late in the game and when it comes to the closing seconds, Iverson would get a lot of attention which would free up someone for an open shot like Jason Kapono for a three pointer. Iverson is still a player you have to guard late in the game.
Assuming the roster stays intact, the Sixers could make a late surge in to the playoffs. Aside from the East’s top four, the Sixers could jump any of the other teams.
The 5th-seeded Miami Heat with Dwayne Wade are probably better than the Sixers due to the solid play of Jermaine O’Neal and Michael Beasley, but the Sixers don’t trail the Heat by that much, at least not as much as the standings show.
Brandon Jennings and the 6th-seeded Milwaukee Bucks are a nice team but Andrew Bogut or Michael Redd, if not both, are usually injured. Plus the Sixers beat the Milwaukee Bucks when Brandon Jennings had a near triple double in his pro debut.
The Chicago Bulls are the 7th seed and I do think the Bulls will eventually rise above the 6th seed and they did beat the 76ers, but they are a young team on the rise and have struggled to find someone to fill Ben Gordon’s shoes.
The 8th-seeded Charlotte Bobcats lost to the 76ers with Stephen Jackson, in Jackson’s first game in which he scored 26 points. The Bobcats, like the Bulls, struggle to score at times and are more of a defensive team.
Eventually, I think the Sixers will miss the playoffs due to the fact that they are in a huge hole and mainly getting used to this Princeton offense will take a long period of adjustment as the Sixers have struggled to run the Princeton and seem to ignore the principles of the Princeton such as backdoor cuts, passes, and screens. They seem to lack the personnel to run the Princeton, and Iverson is not a traditional fit in the Princeton as the Princeton doesn’t have isolation sets for one particular player although I believe Coach Eddie Jordan will try to get Iverson involved in some isolation.
The Sixers are an awful team when it comes to perimeter defense as teams constantly get continuous open looks from three.
The Oklahoma City Thunder who normally struggle from behind the arc, went 12-for-24 against the Sixers and most of them were open looks. The Atlanta Hawks, who also aren’t a great three point shooting team, went 9-for-18 from three point land. Defensively the Sixers have not gotten better; you may be giving up something defensively when Iverson is on the floor due to his steal or else defense.
In the end it’s a good move that is also convenient as the Sixers got Iverson for practically nothing. Iverson will sell some tickets as the arena is dead last in attendance as they don’t even fill 60 percent of the arena. The move may not make the Sixers that much better, however it will make them much more relevant and interesting. However it’s good to have a Sixer legend back in Philadelphia.