Before I start, I’d like to take an opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Ian Stancato, I’m a huge basketball fan, and I owe a lot to these guys (the other Phour) for allowing me to jump on here. In this space, I’ll do my best to break down what I think the Sixers are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and how they can continue to improve week in and week out. I’ll discuss highlights, lowlights, and controversy. Being that Philly is an absolute dream for any fan of the sport, I will also touch on the local college scene from time to time and, when the next Tyreke Evans is growing up in town, I’ll touch on that, too. Let me know what you like, dislike, etc, I’m a huge fan of feedback, so get at me. On to some hoops…
While summer is usually anything but a hotbed of hoops discussion, most summers don’t boast the most intensely scrutinized free agent period of any sport, ever. Regardless of who your team is, it was impossible not to spend hours a day trying to sift through all the rumors surrounding D-Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron. Now that the dust has settled, we all know how the situation resolved itself and, as a result, we’ve all watched countless hours of pointless analysis of the “new” Heat. In that time, and largely ignored by the media even in Philadelphia, the Sixers were active in acquiring several new players as they continue to work towards building a perennial contender.
New to the team are Andres Nocioni, Spencer Hawes, and Tony Battie. Make no mistake about it, none of these guys are going to turn a 27-55 team into a contender, however their arrival does signal a larger sea change within the organization that should give die-hard fans at least a glimmer of hope. Gone is the Haitian Sensation, Samuel Dalembert, and with him goes one of the ugliest contracts in Sixers history. The organization has seemingly finally given up on trying to sell Sammy D to basketball-savvy Philadelphians as an elite big man. Granted, Sammy D put up some solid stats on paper, but those numbers never translated to wins for the Sixers with Sammy D in the middle.
The Sixers organization seems to finally have committed itself to rebuilding instead of spending another long year convincing itself that it had the pieces in place to simply “fill in the blanks” and contend. The team hired Doug Collins as coach, noted for having steered rebuilding jobs in the past. They went after the best available talent in this years’ draft (Evan Turner) as opposed to going after the player that would have been the best “band-aid” for their current roster (Favors or Cousins) and make another run at the 7 or 8 seed in the East.
The Sixers have one of the most solid young cores in the NBA today with Turner, Jrue Holliday, Thaddeous Young, and Marreese Speights. If the Sixers are committed to building a solid franchise with sustainable success, these four guys are their only “untouchables”. Everyone else should be available for trade and the Sixers shouldn’t be too picky about the right price, especially if a trade involves dumping Elton Brand and his ~$17 million a year deal, or Andre Igoudala and his ~$15 million deal. Igoudala is not simply not suited to being the #1 option on a good team and, unfortunately for the Sixers, they are paying him like he is. He is the epitome of the “upside potential” era, when players were drafted highly based on athleticism and not ability, an era when teams thought they could take tremendous athletes and turn them into even better basketball players, neglecting the fact that there is more to being a good basketball player than athleticism alone. Tayron Thomas is another good example of “upside potential” run rampant. The risk the team took in paying Brand so extravagantly has officially backfired. He is not likely to return to his pre-Achilles tear form.
Change is difficult to accept especially in sports but, generally, once it is fully embraced, success is not far around the corner. As the Sixers work to cut ties with past mistakes, future success gets closer, especially if they can continue to build on young talent with high basketball IQ, not simple athleticism.