Thursday, November 02, 2006

Apathy breeds hope

By John McMullen

Let’s face it -- no one cares about the Philadelphia 76ers in this town.

Tune in Howard or Jody Mac and you will here the town’s faithful lamenting Andy Reid and the Eagles, cursing Bob Clarke and the Flyers or praying Alfonso Soriano will soon be wearing the red pinstripes.

What you won’t here is anyone talking about the Sixers -- unless it’s to take a quick shot at Billy King or dream about a kid named Greg Oden.

But, I have news for all of you -- the Sixers aren’t that bad and brace yourselves -- they are going to make the playoffs.

I realize most will snicker at that prediction considering there was no significant change from a team that found itself in the NBA lottery rather than the playoffs last year. But understand, last year was an anomaly -- a tribute to Murphy’s law -- everything that could have went wrong -- with the exception of A.I. -- did.

And the team still recorded 38 wins so why shouldn’t we expect solid improvement?

Sure, things won’t change with CWebb -- the guy is the poster child for people who have become disinterested in the NBA. A supremely talented player with a deft passing touch, Webber is lazy on the defensive end and still has trouble swallowing the fact that this is Iverson's team.

But, we can and should expect help to come from Andre Iguodala, Kyle Korver and Samuel Dalembert.

Few noticed because they were awed by his athleticism but Iguodala was terrible in his second season. The former Arizona star couldn’t finish on the offensive end and was an extremely overrated defender, who shut it down for long periods. By all accounts, that kind of thing is not going to happen again -- Iguodala is becoming more aggressive on the offensive end and is handling the ball a lot more, which keeps him interested on the defensive end.

Korver is what he is, an excellent pure shooter who can do little else. Stationed on the weak side of a team with a superior low post threat, Korver would be quite a weapon. On a team that expects him to play both ends of the floor, like the Sixers did last year, he was a joke. Philadelphia finally realized this and Maurice Cheeks and company have scaled back what they expect from Korver -- he will be coming off the bench and expected to provide an offensive spark -- nothing more.

Which brings us to the team's biggest disappointment last season, Dalembert. The former Seton Hall stalwart has the ability to be a game-changer on the defensive end. Last year, Samuel seemed to lack heart, desire and basketball smarts. But give Dalembert credit, he spent many late nights at PCOM in the offseason and rekindled his passion for the game. He will never be an offensive threat but if he can stay on the floor, Dalembert can erase defensive lapses like few others.

That brings us full circle to A.I. You can’t feel all bad for Iverson -- He still sports a stunning lack of maturity and at just 6-feet tall, will always bring his defensive deficiencies to the table. That said, he was spectacular last season and despite averaging 33 points, 7.4 assists and 1.94 steals last season, most of the media in this town made sure to let you know everything that happened with the Sixers was the little guy’s fault.

And they nearly ran him out of town despite the fact that Iverson was the only "talented" player on the roster that gave you an honest day's effort night in and night out.

Whether you know it or not -- the fact that King failed to jettison Iverson saved the Sixers’ season. Let’s not kid ourselves -- if we were all watching Randy Foye instead of Iverson at the Wachovia Center on Wednesday night, no one in their right mind would be able to expect more 25 wins from this club.

So, instead of Foye we got a team that dominated the Atlanta Hawks -- a team that gave me hope -- even if I am the only one.

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Copyright 2006 The Phanatic

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I loved your article on the Sixers, and agree with you whole heartedly. Iverson is the heart and soul of the team, constantly performing under immense scrutiny, but still getting the job done. he is underrated as a team player. He is one of the competition leaders in assists, and steals, and even bobs up for a few 5-8 reboud games. not bad for a 6 footer. Sure his FG% is low, but lebron and arenas are no better in this department when you look at the numbers. for his size, he is an outstanding performer. i didnt hear the trade rumour about foye, but i did hear something about west, sczerbiak and....was it ratliff? sure delonte just hit a buzzer beater, but The Answer seems to do that 4 times a season, not to mention the wins off his own shooting with a lousy 40points seemingly once a week. Im still keeping the faith for the sixers this year. if only c-webb can pull his finger out, and come out with a few matchwinning performances. iggy kyle and dalembert are still improving, but are about to take a significant step towards establishing their careers. if it comes this season while the answer is still a dominant force, all hell will break loose!and the sixers will win at least 45 games. let me know what you think of kevin ollie. im not convinced.

Josh Quinn
Adelaide, Australia