HEAD COACH: DOUG COLLINS
This is a tough one.
I mean, this roster intrigues me, especially the athletic potential (well, not Brand) and youth, not to mention the team hired local hero Doug Collins, who specializes in shaping up rag-tag groups like this one.
Still, I get a bad feeling here.
Thing is, nothing kills an NBA team dead like a shitty contract, and there is none shittier in the league today than Brand’s. We’re talking 51 million soul crushing dollars (over 3 excrutiating years) left on that bitch. Even better (worse?), Brand’s deliberate post-up game couldn’t be more ill-suited for what the rest of this roster offers. It’s hard to imagine this collection of players being better off playing any other way than pedal to the metal, with open-court dynamos like Holiday, Young, Turner and Williams.
Basically, this team is screwed.
Their options are:
A) bench your highest paid player, reminding your fan base (this is PHILLY, by the way) on the daily bthat you fucked up, badly.
B) start the guy to justify his salary, and basically tie a sack full of bricks to the other four guys on the court who wanna run, run, run.
Oh, and for anyone thinking (hoping?) “why not just trade Brand?”.
Well, Isiah Thomas has been gone for two years now, that’s why.
In other words, nobody is touching that contract. Not even Mark Cuban wants to win that bad.
Nope, basically they are stuck with him, and to his credit, Brand showed up to camp about 20 pounds lighter, determined to make a go of it. Yay for him.
Honestly, and I hate to say this, but the best thing that can happen to this team is Brand getting hurt.
Seriously, they have enough big man depth to be just fine, especially since Marresse Speights is one of the most statistically productive players per minute in the NBA, and Young should be on the court as much as possible at this point.
It’s not hard to envision this team playing with a tight rotation of Holiday-Iguodala-Young-Speights-Hawes-Williams-Kapono-Turner and just running teams ’til they drop. Sure, that’s not an imposing defensive unit by any means, but a few of those guys have the ability to be lockdown defenders, and caring about stuff like that is a process with a roster this young. And isn’t that why you hired a guy like Collins?
Of course, there is also some concern about Turner, the Sixers’ choice with the number 2 overall pick in this years’ draft. To put it bluntly, Turner stunk in the NBA Summer League, never a good sign for a highly touted player. The thing about the Summer Leagues are, it’s like going to a huge used car lot and seeing a bunch of generic cars that look the same. In this case, a bunch of 6 foot tall, quick Point Guards that lack great instincts, 6’4 athletic shooting guards who can’t shoot from deep, and 6’10 centers who set nice picks but not much else. In this environment, your high draft choice should look like a Lamborghini.
Turner looked like a Civic.
Steady and reliable, sure, but hardly flashy. Wasn’t making his shots, couldn’t get around anybody. Looked indecisive. Of course, I watched Tyreke Evans get schooled by the D-LEAGUE SELECT TEAM at last years’ Summer League and things worked out OK for him, so this could just turn out to be an aberration for Turner. Still, I’d be a bit worried.
Otherwise, this could be a make-or-break year. Is this team stumbles, it’s not hard to fathom them unloading Iguodala on a contender and starting from scratch. Of course, I could also see them being a surprise team if they are able to let the young guys do their thing. Problem is, that’s not exactly Collins’ specialty.
Bottom line is, I WANT to like this team, but I know better.
IF THEY GET LUCKY: Elton Brand trips on Carlos Boozers’ suitcase or whatever, and Collins can field a line-up that actually has a shot of winning some games. Speights gets the opportunity to play more and responds in beastly fashion. Young, Turner and Williams all provide scoring an athleticism to give this team a scary fastbreaking presence. Collins remembers to stop yelling and breathe from time to time.
IF THEY DONT: Brand sucks the fun out of the team by playing too much (and too slowly), the young guys get frustrated, and the team responds to a slow start by unloading Iguodala’s contract and starting from scratch.
REALITY: Probably not good. Chances are they’ll win more than last year, but not much. Honestly, this is one GM job I wouldn’t want. Unfortunately, they have politics and protocol standing in the way of what could (and still might) be a bright future.
(SIXER BONUS) YES, THERE REALLY WAS A PLAYER WHO CALLED HIMSELF CHOCOLATE THUNDER
And yes, he was a bad, bad man. True, Darryl Dawkins goes down in history as a player who was considered to have had a disappointing career, but really, how can you call a man who hailed himself as being from the Planet Lovetron and NAMED ALL OF HIS DUNKS (my favorite was always the “chocolate-thunder-flyin-robinizine-crying, teeth-shaking, glass-breaking, rump-roasting, bun-toasting, wham-bam, blass-breaker-I-Am-Jam”) a disappointment at anything?