I am a huge Doug Collins fan. He took over a team that a year ago was pathetic and turned them into a .500 team. Considering that after the Sixers started 3-13 (finishing 38-28) this team built upon the system Doug Collins preached: team defense, running the up-tempo offense this team is built for, and trusting in each other. My favorite part of this 76er team is how much fun they looked to be having. They enjoyed playing together and none of them wanted the season to be over. Credit goes to Collins for bringing the team together. One of my favorite Doug Collins' quotes comes from game 4 against the Heat. Inside the huddle late in the 4th quarter, his players told Collins "Were going back to Miami." Collins responded, "I'm coming with you." He is the ultimate players coach and a fantastic teacher for this young squad. Show Ya Luv.
For everyone who couldn’t fathom why the organization let Andre Miller walk away two seasons ago have found their answer. Jrue Holliday is ready to be a starting point guard in the NBA and is ready to lead this team. Remember Holliday is only 20 years old and will continue to develop, hopefully one day into an All-Star. Holliday has shown he is ready to take the big shot—don’t look for Dwayne Wade to be caught off guard next time these two teams meet if Holliday has the ball behind the arc late in the 4th (ala game 4). Holliday is the rock to build this young team around.
Elton Brand: A-
Brand provided veteran leadership to this young team and re-found his jumper this season. Brand led the team in scoring with 15 a game while also throwing in 8.3 boards a game. More importantly he stayed healthy for the entire season. Brand made some huge shots and provided defensive tenacity, but he doesn’t receive an A because his age prevents the team from running in transition as much when he is on the court and I’ll fully believe he is back if he can contribute at the same rate next season.
Andre Iguodala: B+
Over the course of his career here in Philly there has been no more polarizing Sixer than Iggy. The constant will he be traded-won’t he be traded-does he even want to be here has gone on for almost three seasons. However, Iguodala found his place on this team offering experience and over 14 points a game. He missed too many late game shots to receive an A and as seen in the Olympics Iggy can be a fantastic number two scoring option—but that’s what he needs to be. The Sixers should hang onto Iguodala to complement their young talent as long as he understands one day he will be the teams number 2 option.
Jodie Meeks: A
Meeks was the teams surprise sharp shooter from beyond the arc, shooting close to 40%. When Collins inserted the former role player into the starting lineup about 20 games into the season this team found new life. Unfortunately he disappeared in the series against the Heat, but because Meeks was not expected to contribute nearly as much as he did, he gets an A. The Sixers needed a threat behind the arc and found one in Meeks.
Spencer Hawes: C+
I like Spencer Hawes, but not as a starting center. He would be a fantastic option off the bench as a backup but he does not bring enough talent to be a starting center in the NBA. Often, he found himself in foul trouble because of his tendency to commit dumb fouls. If the Sixers could add another big man and Hawes minutes could decrease from 22 to about 14-15 he would be much more effective because he does have a decent shot from the wing and foul line. In the playoffs he forced too many shots against the Heats superior inside defense.
Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, and the Bench: B+
The Sixers could absolutely use some more depth on their bench specifically at the 4 and 5, but Young and Williams gave the team two legitimate candidates for sixth man of the year. As these two players continue to develop they will be future starters for the 76ers. Williams shot 35% beyond the arc and perhaps no shot was bigger than his game winner in game 4 of the Heat series. Williams and Young continue to develop their confidence and provided tenacity off the bench giving the bench a B+. Evan Turner had his ups and downs, but in the off-season will work with shooting guru Herb McGee to improve his jump shot and will eventually be a solid NBA player.
Outlook for next year: B+
Don’t look for the Sixers to win the East, but the will continue to improve and should win somewhere between 45-50 games next year moving their seed up from 7 to 5. That could enable them to win their first postseason series since Iverson’s first tour in Philly. Doug Collins might not be the coach to win this city a championship, but he certainly is the right man to continue to turn around this once prominent franchise. The only players on the roster not under contract for next season are Jason Kapono, Tony Battie, and late season addition Antonio Daniels. The teams core will be back and be winning more games.