Friday, August 06, 2010

What Style Fits The Sixers?

The Sixers have made some welcome moves this off-season. Drafting Evan Turner with the second pick, bringing in Doug Collins as coach and acquiring scrappy guys like Andres Nocioni puts them back on track for making the playoffs.

But, how will the Sixers define themselves? Doug Collins has built a reputation as a defensive coach. He wants the Sixers attack to start on the defensive end, "This has to be a team that wins with their defense and when they played and were the 41-win team they got in the open court and got easy scores so their shooting wasn’t so much a liability," he said in a May press conference.

Alvin Gentry's version of the Suns then, Doug? I just don't see this team making outstanding defensive progress. They are better equipped to do so--not to mention the mindset instilled by the new coach--but they are mostly built around strong offensive prowess. Iguodala is a great athlete and could translate that into better D, but that's largely unseen. "Andre Iguodala should be an all-league defensive player at the small forward position," Collins said. It will take a lot of effort to take Iguodala there, but first the Sixers' team defense must improve. Iguodala has an impressive basketball IQ and his defense ought to be better than most, but still, having that defensive wall as a team will make Iguodala look a lot better.

Two young guns on their team, Jrue Holiday and Marreese Speights, are similar. Holiday has shown that he can make smart gambles to steal the ball and cause deflections, but defending one-on-one in the halfcourt against elite PGs is something he'll have to prove he's great at. Speights doesn't seem to really care about defense at times, but I'll withhold judgment--at least somewhat--because he hasn't played enough to be given a proper evaluation. What Speights has shown to this point, however, has not been enough.

Collins' vision for the offense is tremendous. This Sixers' team is built to be an up and down team, with the offense hitting quick and early. Improved defense will be what can help get them closer to a playoff run; Iguodala and crew filling it up will truly be the power of this team.

How far can they go? Right now, a seventh or eighth spot in the East would be ideal.

Quick thanks to @Mike__SB who got me thinking about writing this due to a Twitter conversation we had (follow me also).