Like we are currently seeing in the NFL, the 2011 NBA off-season is up in the air with a lockout looming. Free agency could be delayed and completely restructured depending on the new agreement reached by the owners and players. Still, The Sports Bank continues to break down all thirty NBA teams to see what areas they need to address in the off-season. Expect to see a ton of trade rumors surrounding Andre Iguodala this off-season and the Philadelphia 76ers might be better off dealing him in hopes of adding a center or perimeter scorer.
By: David Kay
Philadelphia 76ers (41-41 last season)
’10-’11 Season in Review:
A year after finishing with their worst record in more than a decade, the Philadelphia 76ers returned to respectability behind first year head coach Doug Collins, only to bow out to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Balance was both a strength and weakness for the Sixers this past season. No player averaged more than 15 points per game but eight players scored at least seven per contest. It is nice to have that shared output on the offensive end but also left the team without a true go-to player when they needed a basket.
Elton Brand remained healthy for a second straight season but is still a shell of the player he was pre-injury with the Clippers and one of the most overpaid players in the league with more than $35 million owed his way for the next two seasons. Andre Iguodala saw his scoring numbers dip but still contributed in all areas of the game finishing second on the team in points, rebounds, and assists, and leading the team in steals.
The drafting of Evan Turner with the second overall pick was questioned by some since it was uncertain as to how he would compliment Iggy on the wing. Those worries came to light in Turner’s rookie year as his offensive production was incredibly sporadic due to struggles shooting the rock. Philly still faces the issue of figuring out how to best use Iguodala and Turner since they both are not threats from beyond the arc.
The two biggest positives of the season came from second year players Jrue Holiday and Jodie Meeks. Holiday solidified his status as the point guard of the future which is especially encouraging since he is only 21 years old. Meeks ended up starting 64 games and ended up being Philly’s three-point threat. Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams were also bright spots, proving to be valuable assets off the bench.
Spencer Hawes was brought in to strengthen the inside play but actually regressed from his lackluster days in Sacramento. His disappointing season often times forced Collins to go with a smaller line-up that put Brand at center and Young at power forward, or even play the undersized Marresse Speights in the middle.
With no cap flexibility this off-season, the 76ers do not have a ton of room for improvement unless they are willing to deal Iguodala which will almost certainly be an on-going rumor all summer. It is something Philly will have to at least consider because the ceiling for their current roster is not high enough to become real players in the improving Eastern Conference and there is no sign of cap relief until the summer of 2013.
2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:
C: *Spencer Hawes/Marreese Speights
PF: Elton Brand/Andres Nocioni
SF: Andre Iguodala/^Thaddeus Young/Craig Brackins
SG: #Jodie Meeks/Evan Turner
PG: Jrue Holiday/Louis Williams
*C-Spencer Hawes (RFA)
^SF-Thaddeus Young (RFA)
#SG-Jodie Meeks (TO)
SG-Jason Kapono (UFA)
PF-Darius Songaila (UFA)
C-Tony Battie (UFA)
’11-’12 Team Salary: Approximately $54 million
The Spencer Hawes/Marreese Speights duo just is not going to get the job done. Their lackluster play forced Doug Collins to play a small line-up for long stretches with Elton Brand playing out of position at center. Hawes has a four-million dollar qualifying offer due this off-season if Philly decides to retain his services and Speights is really a power forward thrust into the center position due to a lack of depth. The Sixers need to add a true center who can provide an inside presence and allow Brand to spend more time at his natural position.
Jodie Meeks has become the 76ers best three-point threat, but the other wing players; Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner, and Thaddeus Young are poor outside shooters. Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday are also capable of knocking down shots from distance, but the Sixers could still use a sharpshooter to come off the bench. Minutes might be hard to come by for that player unless one of the aforementioned players gets traded, but Philly should still target a long-range gunner.
3. Growth From Evan Turner:
It is obviously way to early to call Evan Turner a bust but the former college basketball player of the year needs to show more than he did in Philly during his rookie campaign. Turner will have become more accustomed to playing off the ball and be more aggressive in attacking the basket if he and the Sixers are going to take their game to the next level. If not, maybe the critics were right and Turner is just not a good fit in Philly.
OTHER NBA TEAM NEEDS PAGES:
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
NEW JERSEY NETS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POINT GUARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SHOOTING GUARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SMALL FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POWER FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT CENTER RANKINGS
CHECK OUT THE SPORTS BANK’S 2011 NBA MOCK DRAFT
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.