A lot of people would choose the ability to fly, or the ability to be invisible. But for me the obvious choice has to be time traveling. The ability to see the future, or even better, go back and fix your past mistakes could be the most beneficial tool ever.
Let’s pretend that Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski could go back in time. He would obviously travel back to January of 2010 and fire head coach Eddie Jordan, replacing him with Doug Collins. This brilliant “re-do” would have given Collins 40-or-so games to play with this roster, gauge his exact draft needs and most importantly implement his proven winning formula: defense, defense, defense.
How much better could the 76ers look now if Collins was on the job dating back to Jauary 2010?
In my opinion much, much better.
From last January 25th to the close of the 2010 regular season, the Sixers ended up going a repulsive 13-27. Eddie Jordan’s Princeton offense was a problem; but it wasn’t THE problem. It was the atrocious defense during the second half of the season that ended with Jordan’s firing and Stefanski’s demotion.
You can attribute the lack of defense to a couple things. Firstly all the offensive movement Jordan demanded did tire down players late in ball games. Secondly the lack of respect for Jordan as a coach caused players to become relaxed and go into that “I’m just here to collect a paycheck mode”. The Sixers were only winning ball games when they could outscore the opponent, rather than this year’s method of playing tenacious D, forcing bad shots and boxing out.
In the last 40 games under Eddie Jordan the Sixers gave up an average of 106.2 points in 27 losses, allowing over 100 points a whopping 17 times. Opponents were able to expose the Sixers poor perimeter defense (now a strength under Collins) by shooting 39.3 percent from deep, averaging nearly eight triples a game. Teams were able to average a 114 offensive efficiency rating, something that the champion Lakers averaged all throughout the season. And under Jordan, teams shot .473 from the floor.
Many in the fan base last year cut Jordan some slack for the defensive lapse, instead blaming it all on personnel. Well those outspoken members of the faithful have been completely silenced with the way Philadelphia has responded since an ugly 3-13 start. Check below to prove that the returning 76ers players have each improved defensively.
|Player||2009-2010 Defensive Win Shares||2010-2011 *Projected Defensive Win Shares|
|Andre Iguodala||2.8||3.1 (in less games)|
|Evan Turner||2.3 (highest rookie total)|
I mentioned that 3-13 start. If we could go back in time and install Collins as head coach during January of 2010, he would have had ample time to figure out how to use these players defensively. The first month of this 2010-2011 season was a feeling out mode for Collins, something every new coach experiences. But it was more than ever an adjustment period for himself, having not barked from the sidelines since 2003 with the Wizards. I bet the Sixers would be right at .500 at this point had Stefanski made the drastic but right move a year ago.
Under Collins opponents are now shooting .447 from the floor and only 34.1 percent from three point-land. The strength of Holiday, Iguodala and Turner is keeping teams out on the perimeter instead of inside the paint and exposing the Sixers glaring gap at the center position.
Many NBA bloggers will tell you that few coaches in this League matter. They’ll tell you this sport is based off of individuals who carry a team offensively. And for the most part, these bloggers are correct.
But every now and then there is an exception to what usually goes on in the NBA. You saw it in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons, one of the only team’s post-1984 that was able to win a championship without a superstar. Now I’m not saying that Doug Collins is a Larry Brown type of legendary coach. What I am saying though is that the 76ers are buying into Collins’ system that defense wins games and thus Doug’s name should be among the top three choices for NBA coach of the year.
The seventh seed in the Eastern Conference may not seem that glamorous to you, but it’s right there for the 76ers to grab. Considering there are several NBA teams with rosters just as incomplete and flawed as the Sixers who are already tanking this season, the coaching job Collins has done becomes even more impressive.
Stiil, it’s scary (and at the same time sad) to dream about what Collins could have done with the 76ers franchise in 2011 had he been given 40 games to work on this team during the second half of 2010.