Now that Doug Collins’ first season as head coach is over, it is time to evaluate the season and look at what is needed to take the next step as a team. The Sixers finished 41-41 in the regular season and lost to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs this spring.
Collins brought the excitement back to the team and really developed the young talent the Sixers have; however, this is exactly where the team was two years ago. Two years ago, they finished 41-41 and lost to the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic in six games. So, now that they have recovered from the disaster that was Eddie Jordan, it is time to get a few necessary pieces to take this team from a .500 club to a 50 win team.
The two glaring needs for the Sixers are a big man that can play defense and a go-to scorer. To accomplish this, the Sixers should look to depart with Andre Iguodala, because after six seasons with the team we have gone as far as we can with him as the “star.” He is a very solid second or third player on the team, but as the number one option he is not a good investment.
Some of the trade options that have been brought up are Rudy Gay or Andrew Bynum.Gay may be available because of the success the Grizzlies had without him in the playoffs. This would be great for the team because he would be the guy we could pencil in for 18 to 20 points a night. This year Elton Brand led the team in scoring with around 15 a night, which is not what a team needs. We have a team that plays well together and would all complement a star of Gay’s quality on the team.
Gay would also fit in because he is less than 25 years old, like most of this Sixers team. The salaries are comparable so it would be a straight trade, giving the Grizzlies the veteran defensive presence that could take a team that was on the brink of the Western Conference Finals to that next level. This trade would also keep Thad Young as the spark coming off the bench instead of starting, which is where he flourished this year, finishing in the top five in the voting of the sixth man of the year award.
Down low, I like what Brand can give you with 15 points and eight rebounds a night at the four or five position when they go small on the floor. Spencer Hawes on the other hand is not the answer at center; he is very offensive-minded and doesn’t intimidate anyone driving the lane.
The Bynum trade is more complicated and probably less likely. The deal would have the Magic send Dwight Howard to the Lakers, and they would get back Pau Gasol and either Ron Artest or Lamar Odom. We would then send Andre Iguodala to the Lakers to replace Artest as the defensive wingman and we would get Bynum in return. We may also have to give up a second-round pick to the Magic as compensation.
This would give us a big man to block shots and rebounds, something we have not had in a long time, and since Bynum is so young Collins will have a chance to develop into a threat on the offensive end as well. The Magic may look to trade Howard because he is a free agent after next season and they want to avoid the situation the Nuggets were in this past year with Carmelo Anthony. The Lakers are looking to break up the team and infuse the Kobe Bryant-led team with some very strong, younger players. Bryant can no longer win by himself, so strong defensive players in Howard and Iguodala along with the point production each will provide could be very enticing for the Lakers.
Getting Bynum will leave the small forward position open on the Sixers — so it would probably be between Evan Turner, who showed a lot of promise in the postseason and Young. I think they may want to move Turner to shooting guard and start Young.
Last offseason, Young was told to work on his driving to the hole and he did that, becoming one of the toughest matchups in the league. This offseason he has been told to work on the jump shot, so if he does he could be a very good starting small forward. aside from his shooting, he will not be the long term starting shooting guard — but I like him as a player.
Finally, Evan Turner will be working with the Shot Doctor, Herb McGee, to put more arc in his jump shot and improve his outside shooting.
If the team grows together and we make a move to get the scorer and/or big man, this team will make the jump to a 50-win team. The team cannot keep fans on pure excitement; they need to win and make it out of the first round of the playoffs — something that hasn’t been done since Allen Iverson left the team.