Right before the 76ers tipped off the 2009-10 season and promptly got throttled by the Orlando Magic in the opener – a sign of things to come this past year –, Philadunkia posted a unique preview of the 2009-10 season. After all the changes that went on with the 76ers in summer 2009 and a 2009-10 preseason filled with remarkable highs and disturbing lows, many fans had no idea what to expect from the Sixers this past season, so we did our best to predict what to expect from Philadunkia’s home team in 2009-10.
We’ve been kicking around the idea of revisiting that “Preview” post since the season ended, but there’s been so many other things to write about that we haven’t had the opportunity to pull the piece together. Well, we finally decided that today was the day to post something different from all the head coaching speculation and NBA Draft Lottery predictions that have surrounded the Sixers over the last few weeks.
So today’s post is titled “Upon Further Review” (UFR) because we’re looking back at our 2009-10 76ers Preview and ripping our predictions to shreds or calling ourselves Nostradamus when warranted.
CROWD SAYS/BLOGGER SAYS
(The consensus win total prediction of the TrueHoopNetwork bloggers … and the best hopes of Philadunkia.com.)
|Last Year’s Record||Crowd Says||Philadunkia Prediction|
UFR: While neither our win total prediction nor the consensus total prediction of the THN was correct (Sixers won 27 games in 2009-10), we were closer to the final win total. We only missed the number by 8 games which to be honest isn’t that far off. Lastly, if you had told us back in October that the 76ers defense would be horrid all year our prediction for the total number of wins would have dropped into the 20s.
(The sun is out. The seas have parted. The basketball gods are shining upon us!)
UFR: As you’ll see our “if everything goes right” paragraph was nothing but a fantasy for the Sixers in 2009-10.
After the 76ers’ embarrassing exit from the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the hands of the Orlando Magic, most “experts” theorized that the 76erswould be very active in the off-season trade and free agency markets. After all, GM Ed Stefanski had just watched his upset-minded 41-41 team get exposed by a much more talented and better-coached Eastern Conference foe. So if the Sixers were to take that next step and move into the elite of the East, a major change or two seemed to be in order. That theory made good sense to us as well.
Those experts and we here at Philadunkia sure were wrong, as the Sixers made only one trade this off-season andtheir activity on the free agentmarket consisted of letting free agentpoint man Andre Miller walk to Portland.
The Sixers’ relative inactivity and Miller’s exodus aside, the 2009-10 Sixers still havea lot of upside. The extremely effective running game that has propelled the young and athletic 76ers to the NBA playoffs in the last two years will now be complimented by a significantly improved low post game in the half court. Thanks to the return of bigs Elton Brand andJason Smith from injury andthe continued improvement of Marreese Speights, the Sixers should be a legit threat this season in the half-court offense.
Additionally, the Sixers now havea head coach in Eddie Jordan who actually has a half-court offensivesystem (Princeton offense) to fall back on when the run-n-gun gets bogged down or the opponent forces the Sixers into a slower tempo contest. Having a coach who believes in such a system and can teach it to his playersis a vital start to improving this team’s offensive fortunes.
As a bonus, Ed Stefanski addressed the team’s desperate need for a quality jump shooter by bringing in sniper Jason Kapono. Kaponois a career 45 percentshooter from behind the arc and44.7 percentfrom the field. His presence will lead to a huge improvement in the Sixers’ ability to bang down jumpers.
With the Sixers devastating fast break featuring Thaddeus Young, Andre Iguodala and Louis Williams in addition to significant improvements in the interior game, coaching and outside shooting, how could people possibly say the Sixers will suck in 2009-10?
UFR: Could our “if everything goes right” paragraph have been more opposite then the reality of the 2009-10 season? We highly doubt it. The 76ers rarely got the run-n-gun going this season. Eddie Jordan’s Princeton offense flopped, then got ditched when Allen Iverson made his return. When he wasn’t anchored to the bench, Elton Brand played decently. However the return of Jason Smith was a huge disappointment and Mo Speights was injury plagued all season and his game regressed in a major way. As for the addition of Jason Kapono, well that turned out to be a non-factor as Kapono was buried on EJ’s bench for 90% of the season.
(A rousing dissent from a rival blogger.)
The words “Elton Brand is back” never meant less.
– Matt McHale / Bulls by the Horns
UFR: Matt was semi-correct in his rousing dissent. Brand’s return did not have the tremendous impact we had hoped for in 2009-10, we’ll concede that one. However, most of that can be attributed to the personal war Brand and Jordan waged all season which saw Brand spending large chunks of time on the bench when he should have been on the floor. There is no doubt that on some nights when he got the minutes EB looked old and tired, but for the most part when Brand got the burn he delivered (13 & 6 per night). As we look for hope in 2010-11, we’ll cling to the memories of Brand’s six double-doubles and the span from December 28th to January 29th over which EB averaged 16.5 points. and 5.6 rips per night.
(A 140-character insight into the soul of the team.)
“I can’t help imagining, Vick, McNabb, Rollins and Iverson all playing in the City of Brotherly Love……..Picture That!”– Allen Iverson
UFR: BUCKETS! This Twitter post we chose was right on. The Tweet went up on Iverson’s account the day Michael Vick was signed by the Eagles and everyone had a laugh. A couple of months later the return of Allen Iverson to Philadelphia was the biggest story in the 76ers season and the Tweet came to fruition. Who knew Iverson could see into the future? Of course now Iverson and McNabb are gone while Vick remains, which no one could ever have predicted.
ON THE RECORD
(The single best quote concerning the team during the last 12 months.)
Theo Ratliff’s tirade after the Magic embarrassingly dispatched the Sixers from the 2009 playoffs on their home floor is still ringing in our ears…
“It ain’t about veterans. The coaches are responsible for guys [being] prepared and playing,” he said. “They have to hold guys accountable. It’s been that way all year, so you couldn’t expect anything different…[The lack of that] has bothered me, and I’ve told them it’s bothered me, that it’s something you’ve got to deal with,” he said. “When you see the lack of effort, the lack of concentration, the lack of being able to get things done, and to stick with the same thing, to me you’re just trying to play guys, and I don’t feel good about it.”
UFR: As the 76ers season came to a pathetic end last month, we could have played a tape of former 76er Theo Ratliff’s tirade from spring of 2009 and it would have held true for the 2010 Sixers as well.
(Some key stats from the 2008-09 season.)
The 76ers ranked 24th in the League in shooting and 25thin the League in defensive rebounding. That’s right, Philadunkia’s home team struggles to hit shots, open or defended, while on the other end of the floor they can not limit the opposing team to one-and-done trips. So how on earth did the Sixers win 41 games last year? They ranked 2nd in the NBA in offensive rebounding, 2nd in forced turnovers and 4th in free throws.
Also of note, Andre Iguodala led the Sixers in scoring at 18.8 ppg. while shooting 30.7 percent from the 3-point line. Only one team in the Eastern Conference had a leading scorer with 200 3PAs who shot a lower percentage from deep – Devin Harris, who shot 29.1 percent from 3’ville for the Nets.
UFR: In 2009-10 the 76ers ranked 16th in the League in shooting (46%) and 19th in the NBA in defensive rebounding, which are both solid improvements from the previous season. So what stats helped create the train wreck of a season that was 2009-10? Check out these numbers…the Sixers ranked 9th in offensive rebounding, 9th in forced turnovers and 16thin FTs made. All of those are serious drop offs from 2008-09.
Again in 2009-10 Andre Iguodala led the Sixers in scoring at 17.1 ppg. and again this season AI9 was horrible from deep. Iguodala shot 31% from three this past season which was the lowest success rate in the League among players who jacked up 300 or more 3PAs.
(Down a single point with 9.2 seconds to play in a must-win game. What’s the play?)
The 76ers are down one, 9.2 seconds to play, must-win game…In 2008-09, the Sixers would’ve isolated Iguodala at the top of the 3-point line andlet him do his thing until he eventually settled for a long range J which had a 30 percent chance of finding the bottom of the bucket. Those days are over. Our play begins with the idea that with the first andsecond options, we’re looking to secure ourselves either a high percentage field goal attempt or a very solid chance to end up on the free throw line. So with that philosophy in mind, we break the huddle and…
On the same side of the court as the in-bounder (Jason Kapono), Andre Iguodala lines up in the high post area and Elton Brand takes up position on the blocks. Iguodala gets himself open andthe inbound pass goes into him. He quickly puts the ball into Brand in the low post and the game is in # 42’s hands. If Brand believes he can get to the tin then he goes strong and either gets the bucket or draws a foul and gets two free throws.
If Brand doesn’t have a clean shot, there are other options. Kapono can set a back pick on Iguodala’s defender, allowing Iggy to slash down the lane. Brand can drop a pass to a slashing Iggy for the lay-in or a foul.
If Iguodala is covered on his cut move, then Kapono’s defender is most likely providing some help on Iggy, which should leave Kapono (option #3) wide open. Brand pitches the rock out to him and odds are that Kapono knocks down a jumper.
One play, three ways to win. Now that’s how you coach ‘em up.
UFR: How many times in 2009-10 did the 76ers settle for guarded, long range or in general bad GWAs with the clock winding down? The answer is too many, way too many. If Jordan had used the above play or any play for that matter which got the ball to the tin at winning time, the Sixers would have improved their record by at least 5 games.
(The fan favorite the crowd will be chanting for to see some action.)
Allen Iverson. A great number of Philadelphia fans have a fever and the only cure is more…Iverson. So when the 2009-10 Sixers play sub-.500 ball for most of the year and people are furious that Ed Stefanskidid not bring home the Philly sports legend known as “The Answer,” the chants of “We want Iverson!” will echo throughout the half-empty Wachovia Center.
UFR: The few members of Philadunkia nation who ventured down to the Wachovia Center in November may not have been chanting Iverson’s name but we bet they sure were thinking “The Answer” could help the Sixers out. On December 2nd he accepted an offer from Ed Stefanski and on December 7th Iverson rocked the Sixers uniform for the first time in three years. His return to Philadelphia was easily the highlight of the year, so we’ll take credit for calling for it / predicting it back in late October.
IF YOU’RE WATCHING THE BOTTOM LINE, YOU’RE WATCHING THIS
(The single biggest spreadsheet issue hanging over the team.)
We refuse to believe the glowing reviews Samuel Dalembert has been getting this preseason from everyone involved with the Sixers andthus the travesty of a deal that Billy King gave to Dalembert remains easily one of the worst contracts in NBA history. Hopefully this season Dalembert, his inflated self-worth and his contract will be dealt for a couple of expiring contracts and some much-needed cap space.
UFR: We have to give Sammy serious credit, he played his ass off in 2009-10 and in light of the tragedy that was going on in his home country of Haiti, the effort Dalembert put in this season is even more amazing. We’ll remember fondly his 20-20 game vs. the Wizards in January as well as his four consecutive double-doubles that month (20 overall this season), but no matter how you measure it, Sammy is still grossly overpaid and his contract continues to kill the Sixers. We’re still pulling for a trade of Big Sam to Detroit for Rip Hamilton.
INDIVIDUAL PHILADUNKIA.com WRITER PREDICTIONS :
“The 2009-10 Sixers will turn out to be the best Sixersteam since the 2000-01 season where they made the NBA Finals. The team will finish (50-32) second in the Atlantic Division and fourth overall in the Eastern Conference.”
UFR: Somebody was drinking the Kool-Aid Ed Stefanski was handing out when training camp broke back in late October.
Carey Smith said…
“…35 wins and a 9th or 10th place finish, but I pray hard that I am wrong.”
UFR: Not a bad prediction and the closest we read anywhere online, but still too much respect for a Sixers team that predictably turned out to be a train wreck.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain said…
“…concerns about depth and front-court play will continue to haunt the team into the start of the season. Other questions loom large as well, including Elton’s health, Lou’s team-leadership ability, and the circus of uncertainty that usually surrounds a coach during his first year with a new squad. The Sixers appear to be equipped withadequate answers, but will need breakout seasons from some promising playersif they hope to improve upon their finish from last year and make some noise in an ever-improving Eastern Conference.”
UFR: Correctly predicted that it would be a circus around 1st year head coach Eddie Jordan and Lou’s team leadership would be an issue, but the Sixers are not equipped with any adequate answers as this season proved.