2009-10 NON EJ, NOT SO TOP 10

As we predicted in summer 2009, the hiring of Eddie Jordan turned out to be a huge mistake as his Princeton offense and his coaching style in general were a terrible match for this 76ers team.

However this train wreck of a season can not be blamed entirely on Jordan and his inept coaching.  Sure he’s responsible for about 75% of what went wrong this season and he deserves to be thrown under the bus repeatedly, but there were numerous other issues that helped to derail this season which were not directly connected to EJ. 

Thus we have assembled a Top 10 list of sorts that lays out ten items that went wrong with the Sixers this season that were not necessarily the fault of Eddie Jordan.

Here they are, the Top 10 Things that went wrong with the 76ers 2009-10 season that EJ was not 100% responsible for.

#10…Jason Smith’s Disappointing Season— Coming out f training camp, the Sixers brass were very high on Smith and felt that his return to the Sixers lineup would make for a very valuable addition to the bench unit.  Instead of 2009-10 being Smith’s NBA breakout season, it turned out to be his second lost season in a row.  Smith misse all of 2008-09 with a knee injury and he spent most of 2009-10 anchored to the bench.  When he did play he didn’t live up to the training camp hype.  Yes he hustles and can knock down the mid-range J, but for a 7-footer he has no ability to grab a rebound, his defense was suspect and he often clogged the lane on offense.

#9…Mo Speights Rushing Back from MCL Surgery —When Mo can back only 5 weeks after tearing his MCL, his speedy return raised some eyebrows.  After we watched him limp through 2 or 3 games, it became obvious to us that he was not any where near 100%.  Operating on a gimpy knee was a major reason that Mo regressed this season.  We would have labeled Speights as defensively challenged before he tore his MCL, but after returning to soon and hobbling around with one bad wheel, he became a big defensive liability.  Additionally, his conditioning work fell off badly during his five week absence and to be honest he never recovered.  Having a bum knee and being badly out of shape is not a good combination for a young NBA big trying to earn some minutes.  As the season pushed into February, Speights was visibly overweight and had a hard time finding minutes off Eddie Jordan’s bench.  Over the last two and a half months of the season Speights averaged only 13.5 mpg.  Perhaps if the Sixers had kept Speights out of the lineup longer, allowing his knee to get closer to 100% and stayed on top of him regarding his conditioning he would have returned from his MCL surgery ready to make a positive contribution.

#8…Elton Brand’s Inability to Elevate— While Elton Brand did not return to his former 20 & 10, All-Star self in 2009-10, he did have a decent season and occasionally we caught a glimpse of the game he owned as a Clipper and Bull.  However, what was so alarming to us in watching Brand this season is that nearly two full years after his achilles injury, Brand still has no ability to get off the floor.  How many times this season did we see Brand get snuffed by the rim or have his shot blocked by smaller opponents or simply blow a bunny because he has no hops left? The answer is…way too many.  

#7…The Iverson Rollercoaster— In our opinion this return of Allen Iverson was simply a good idea gone horribly wrong.  When Louis went down, the Sixers needed to add a guard and Iverson was the best guard available, so we have no problem with Ed Stefanski adding “The Answer” to the roster.  In fact, the return of Iverson to Philly actually made the Sixers relevant for two weeks or so and actually helped the team on the floor as well.  However, the Sixers rushed the aging Iverson into action and the result was tendonitis in his knee.  He was in and out of the lineup because of his ailing knee, but still contributing in a positive manner when he was able to drag himself onto the court.  Then his personal issues forced him to take a leave of absence.  As we all know, that initial hiatus started the ball rolling towards his eventual departure from the team.  Maybe if the Sixers had eased Iverson into the lineup more gently and his personal issues had not KO’d him at the end of the 2009-10 season “The Answer” could have had a bigger positive impact on this year, but that’s a big “if”.  When we put Iverson’s return under an honest review, overall it probably did more harm then good.    

#6…Louis Williams Getting Hurt — Louis was never going to be the point guard that the Sixers desperately needed, but we have to admit he was playing some solid basketball (16.8 ppg.) before he broke his jaw back in late November.  After a five week lay off, Louis returned to find Allen Iverson taking most of his minutes and touches.  The return of Iverson seemed to wreck Louis’ confidence and it wasn’t long before the mojo he had going early on was completely gone.  Eventually Louis was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Jrue Holiday and at that point he was lost for the season mentally.

#5…Lack of Discipline on the Offensive End — A never ending downpour of ill advised 3PAs, not running set plays through all the options, ignoring obvious mismatches and turnovers galore were just a few of the ills that plagued the Sixers on the offensive end of the floor this season.  Most of those problems are a direct result of a lack of patience and self control by the players.

#4…Serial Pouting— At every point in the 2009-10 season it seemed as if at least one player in the Sixers locker room was pissing and moaning about something.  If it wasn’t Brand over his restricted minutes, then it was AI9 over the lack of defensive effort by his teammates or Louis over losing his starting job or Sammy Dalembert over the idea that he should get more offensive touches.  While very few jabs were traded through the media, the body language and facial expression displayed by this team were absolutely lousy for most of the season and this childish behavior by millionaires who have our dream jobs just made us sick.

#3…Andre Iguodala Falling in Love with his 3-points Shot Iguodala is a career 32% shooter from 3-point land and because of that sad number, AI9 put in a lot of time during summer 2009 working on his outside shot.  Iguodala even spent a week last summer down in Georgia at Mark Price’s shooting school in an effort to improve his ability to pop from deep.  One thing is for sure, all of the work certainly led to Iguodala having more confidence in his stroke.  He took 303 three-point attempts this season, which came close to matching his career high of 307 (200-08).  However, having the confidence to shoot the rock is only one part of the battle, you also need skills to make a solid 3-point assassin and despite all his work Iguodala still have doesn’t have them.  He hit 3s at a 31% clip in 2009-10 and that success rate ranked Iggy dead last among players with 300 or more attempts this season (39th out of 39).

#2…Tin Men – One of the biggest issues with the 76ers this season was that they simply lacked heart.  They didn’t have the heart to play tough defense, or the heart to compete at a high level on nightly basis, or the heart to own the boards and they especially did not have the heart to get in a fellow Sixers face when the team needed leadership.  The problem with having a team with no heart is that heart is not something that can be coached up or learned.  Players are either born with heart or they are not.  The bulk of the Sixers roster were not. 

…and the #1 thing that went wrong with the 76ers 2009-10 season over which Eddie Jordan does NOT deserve 100% of the balme is…

#1…Not Firing Eddie Jordan at the All-Star Break— Would axing EJ at the All-Star break have made the Sixers contenders?  No way.  Would cutting ties with Jordan back in mid-February have put the Sixers in the playoffs?  Possibly.  Would shipping Jordan out of town have made the Sixers a better team?  Most likely.  But one thing is for certain, giving Jordan his pink slip during All-Star weekend would have kept this year from plummeting into the Titanic disaster zone.

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