What better way to get Eddie Jordan accustomed to the Philadelphia media then to schedule a conference call with a host of scribes from the blogosphere. Yesterday, Eddie Jordan hit the phones with Brian of DepressedFan, Derek from RealGM and Philly Arena, Dannie from ReclinerGM, Ricky from Sixers 4 Guidos, Chris and Anthony from Heard in the Cheap Seatsand our very own Jeff McMenamin to talk about the future of the Sixers and what schemes he has been building for current players.
Soon after we did our conference call ended, Jordan got really brave and hit the airwaves of 610WIP to take questions from listeners.
Here is the transcript of our conference call conversation with Eddie Jordan:
Brian of Depressed Fan – When it comes right down to it, who gets the playing time: a weak defender who fits the offensive system or a strong defender who does not? What is the priority?
Eddie Jordan – There has to be a balance. If you have skill to score the basketball, you’re going to play. I mean, you can’t win 0-0. If you have a weaker defender, you play team defense to cover for him. At the same time, if you have four strong offensive players, then you can carry one defender, sometimes two. I think championship teams start with a solid, veteran front line.
Ricky of Sixers 4 Guidos – Do you see Lou Williams in the combo guard role he’s played in the past, or could he slide in as a starting point?
Eddie Jordan – In this offense, you really play two combo guards at all times. In training camp, we’ll see how Lou handles it. But yes, I see Lou as a combo guard.
Derek of RealGM– Can Iguodala play the two?
Eddie Jordan– Yes. I think he can flow from the two to the three. I like to think he’s a three-man first. It depends on the roster, if Smith or Speights can earn time, then he’s at the two. I played Jared Jeffries at the two on a team that went to the second round of the playoffs. I will use him at the two if one of those big men can earn the time.
Dannie of ReclinerGM– How will Samuel Dalembert fit into the offense next year?
Eddie Jordan – Just like everyone else Samuel has to buy into being an unselfish player that cares about his teammates. That has been a knock on him; he has to get past the selfish up and down mentality of playing in the NBA. I’d like to see him care about his teammates, the offense can run through him or around him, and he can still be a valuable part of the offense. He has to have an approach that he can be highly competitive and being unselfish teammate and that’s what we’re looking for first.
Ricky of Sixers 4 Guidos– The Sixers couldn’t sell out an arena last year, even during the playoffs. Is this because the Sixers just have to win more basketball games or play a fun style of basketball or both?
Eddie Jordan – I don’t know. I really don’t. I haven’t been here long enough to understand why they haven’t filled the arena for playoff games. I think if you have an exciting team and they win than people will come out to see them. That’s been proven throughout the NBA in the history of the NBA. If you win and you’re exciting, and if you have a chance to play for either the Conference championship or NBA championship, then they will come and fill the arena. So outside of that I don’t have a problem.
Brian of Depressed Fan– During your time in Washington it seemed as if once you had your full arsenal of players with Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison you were one of the fastest teams in the NBA and had close to the most possessions per game. Than when you were hit by injuries in 2007-08 that pace slowed considerably and that was how you competed with a depleted roster. What do you foresee for the Sixers this year, do you see them as a top 10 team in possessions per game?
Eddie Jordan– I think we’re going to be a high possession team. Two reasons: number one we have terrific athletes. I think Andre Iguodala can run, I think Thaddeus Young is a runner, Samuel at the center position can be a runner if he puts his mind to it, Willie Green can get up the floor, Jason Smith was very athletic before he got hurt and that’s number one. Number two, this team has shown they can generate points on the defensive end. They can create turnovers and they get out and run. We should continue to defend well, rebound well, turn people over, get out and get earlier baskets and if not than get into the offense. I think part of this team matches Washington. Gilbert Arenas was a really quick shooter off the break and in the offense, Antawn Jamison at the forward position was a catch and shoot guy in the early offense, so I don’t see those type of players here and when we were hit by injuries especially Gilbert we had to slow it down because our backup guards weren’t fast enough (DeShawn Stevenson and Antonio Daniels) so we slowed the game up a little bit. I really envision our 76ers being a high possession team.
Chris of Heard In the Cheapseats – One of the primary weaknesses of this team last year was defending the perimeter and I’m curious what is your philosophy is on the defensive end of the floor particularly around defending the three point shot?
Eddie Jordan – Well you emphasize containing the defense, you emphasize containing the dribble. One of the first things you work on, and work on very often throughout the season is one-on-one containment. If you can defend the first dribble, then you’ve done 80 percent of your job on the perimeter. If you get deep on the first dribble than it’s hard for help to come. If you can stay in front of your man on the first dribble than that’s how you can stop the draw and kicks and you don’t have to help so much. When you help you leave somebody to help and there’s a shooter left open or the next guy passes to the next guy. So that’s number one, you have to defend the first dribble and defend the dribble on the perimeter. How do you do that? First of all you’d like to have guys who are defenders first, you have to have athletes. You have to be able to move your feet, stay in front of the dribble, change direction, and sometimes get up on somebody to make it hard for them to even put the ball on the floor. That’s how you can number one stop the three, two if there is help you have to keep coming in the rotation and that’s a term we use throughout the season. Don’t stop your defensive rotation, if they draw and kick and one guy flies at him another guy must come and another guy must come so keep coming and you have to run people off the three. You have to rebound the ball and not give a guy a second chance because you see a lot of games where there’s an offensive rebound and a kick out for a three. Those are daggers as we like to call them. So again stay in front of the dribble, keep coming in your rotation if there’s a breakdown, and you have to rebound the ball so there won’t be a kick out for a three.
Ricky of Sixers 4 Guidos– In terms of veterans inside the locker room, Andre Miller might not be back as well as Theo Ratliff and Donyell Marshall. Do you think the team will need a couple of veterans to keep the locker room united and also to play on the floor or are you find with 25 year olds running the show?
Eddie Jordan– I think that’s a good question, that’s a good point. You always like to have solid veterans in the locker room to keep everything professional, to keep a work ethic, to keep a focus, to keep a serious mindset of going to practice everyday, and that’s very important. Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler were great leaders in our locker room in Washington. You like to have responsible veterans to be there and keep our young guys focused. It is a relatively young team, but I do think our young guys are very serious and they have great work ethic. I’m talking about Thaddeus Young and even Andre Iguodala is still very young and has great work ethic and a serious mindset. That is a big part in the NBA.
Dannie of ReclinerGM – How would you address the roster the way it is in terms of strengths and weaknesses?
Eddie Jordan– I haven’t had much time to talk about personnel with our front office. I just got the job on Friday and we’re looking at the draft and working guys out tomorrow. We’ve already addressed some issues with the team: three point shooting, point guard if Andre doesn’t come back, and probably another big man that can defend in the paint. Right now I think the playoff experience that this young core group has had is very important they’ve got to the first round two years in a row. Number two this team competes. They’re undersized but they compete. I think that’s partly due to one of the best players being defensive minded: Andre Iguodala. If one of your best players defends than everyone else follows. It’s a young team it’s a team that’s got some talent and some young players that haven’t played a whole lot like Jason Smith. Plus Elton was out all year and he’s been a continuous all-star. So I like the fact that they compete and they’ve got two guys coming back from injury that didn’t compete last year.
Brian of Depressed Fan – Will there be a full-time shooting coach on staff?
Eddie Jordan – Yes it is something we’re looking into. We hope there will be.
Brian of Depressed Fan– Coaching against the Sixers you were 7-11 against them and I was wondering as an opposing coach what is the look on the Sixers. What are you trying to shut-down what are you trying to exploit? As the Sixers coach what are you going to do to try to improve those areas?
Eddie Jordan– Number one when you’re going against the Sixers you want to prepare to not turn the ball over. They’re a very fast team and if you turn the ball over against the Sixers than they can get out on the fast break on you and score on the open floor. So number one, limit your turnovers. Number two you can’t allow them to get offensive rebounds. Samuel Dalembert and Andre Iguodala can both hit the glass and they both pose problems on the offensive glass. I also think that the bench with Lou Williams coming off and Willie Green was coming off the bench at one time; I think the bench had a lot of risk takers but they turned you over. You’d have to keep the energy off their bench. Now as far as us as a team when I’m coaching them I think you have to be a lot more organized and a lot more often in the offense. I think that’s a big key for us this year
Jeff McMenaminof Philadunkia – The shooting guard position has kind of been a pressing issue during the off-season so far. I saw that you have Toney Douglas of Florida State, Stefon Jackson from UTEP, Jodie Meeks from Kentucky, and Terrance Williams from Louisville coming in tomorrow to workout who are all shooting guards. Is this definitely a need position that you’re looking into in the off-season?
Eddie Jordan– Yes it is a very big issue that we’re addressing that we need better three point shooting whether it’s from our forward or from our guard spots. Both positions have to improve and the coach and the coaching staff has looked at improving through development. Now that’s not always going to be the end all, we need to acquire better shooters. Our job is to continue to work with our players and see if Willie Green can be a better three point shooter, if Andre Iguodala can be a better three point shooter, if Lou Williams can be a better three point shooter. I had DeShawn Stevenson the last two years and he improved to be a 40 percent shooter last year from the three point line. So its how much work can our current players put in and how much work our players are willing to put in with our coaches to improve and get better. Than it’s up to our front office to see if we can make transactions where we can acquire, without losing our core guys, some shooters.
Anthony of Heard In the Cheapseats– The coaches last season tried to fit Elton Brand into a certain system and than obviously got hurt. So how do you see Elton Brand fitting into what you want to do, especially offensively? Also do you believe as a coach it’s better to fit a player into your system or kind of tweak the system to better utilize the skill-sets that certain players have?
Eddie Jordan– Number one Elton will be moved around in the offense, he’ll be facing the basket from the logo area, he’ll be facing the basket from the elbow, he’ll be posting up on the box. He’ll even look at the basket from the top of the key or between the top of the key the free throw area, he’ll play a lot of two man games off the elbow like Kobe and Lamar Odom would do or Kobe and Gasol would do, hopefully he can get out and run, than we’ll do some pick and rolls with forwards and guards and Elton likes to pick and than pop so all those options are available for Elton in this offense. Number two, I think that Elton is a guy who has to defend the post, but again a lot of these things will work out in training camp. Good coaches develop players and fit a system with their players. Whether it’s the triangle, whether it’s the UCLA offense that Jerry Sloan has been using for 20 some odd years, we fit the offense to our best players and that’s what good coaches do. Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, and Caron Butler were the highest scoring trio in the NBA in the system and before that Gilbert Arenas, Larry Hughes, and Antawn Jamison were the highest scoring trio in the NBA and that’s because we tilted the system to fit our best players.
Ricky of Sixers 4 Guidos– Is there any chance that Thaddeus Young could evolve into an Antawn Jamison type power forward?
Eddie Jordan– I think he could because Antawn was an interior player to start and even when I talked to coach Dean Smith he said that he saw Antawn had been taking a lot of threes and he never thought that he would evolve into that type of player but its effective and I said yes coach he’s worked on it and he’s been an unorthodox player since he’s started with scoring in the paint and he moved out to the three. I think Thaddeus being left handed could pose some problems of first being an interior player and we’re going to see if he can move out and improve his mid-range jump shot and see if he can make a high percentage of his three point shots.