Head Coach Doug Collins has recently added a new wrinkle to the 76ers offense by utilizing Andre Iguodala as a point forward. In theory, this allows AI9 to dominate the ball and create more on his own behalf, something of which has been used by the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers who feature the very versatile Lamar Odom.
It’s officially been three ball games since this new facet was brought to our attention by Coach Collins. In those three contests we are 2-1, beating the Nets and splitting a pair with the Knicks.
Now we know three games is not a large sample size. Hell it may not even be a fair number of games on which to evaluate the new offense, but we’re going to give it a try anyhow. We have to admit, the new offense has shown glimpse of solid execution, still Philadunkia scribes Kevin Jones and Nabeel Ahmadieh are torn on which offense is better for this team.
Kevin Jones (Pro)
You may think that the Sixers win over the Bulls on January 7th was the best victory of the reason. Standings wise it may have looked the best, but no win this season felt as good as last Friday’s W against the New York Knicks.
For the first time all season, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand looked like star-players together. In his role as point forward Iguodala set a career high with 16 assists and has been extremely effective at getting the line (15/20) in the last two contests. Oh yeah, he’s turned the ball over just twice in the past three games.
Giving Dre control of the ball keeps him steadily involved in the offense, as opposed to him firing up preposterous deep two-pointers. And AI9’s size and strength poses matchup problems for the majority of the Sixers eastern conference opponents, not only for just himself, but other Sixer players. In the last three games Elton Brand has averaged 25.3 points and 10.3, thanks to the extra forward relegated to patrol Iguodala on the wing.
I understand the argument that tinkering with the offense like this could pose problems to Jrue Holiday’s growth. But his recent inconsistencies have arguably been worse on the defensive side of the ball. Holiday has been spectacular for most of the season when using back door cuts and swinging off of a pick. The 20-year-old hasn’t adjusted well over the past three games but it isn’t time to give up on this project yet — after all he did have a triple-double in the first game of this experiment (against the Nets).
Jrue Holiday isn’t as gifted as all-star guards like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul or Deron Williams. A ll three of those guys developed unique strengths (athleticism, sniper-passing or offensive awareness) very early in their NBA careers. What exactly does Holiday do that wow’s you? (Waiting for an answer.)…Exactly. Nothing yet, which is why Doug Collins will continue the successful experimenting with his young players.
The Sixers are nipping on the Knicks heels for the sixth seed. There should be no debating about the 76ers future with a middle playoff seed up for grabs. Competing is not enough for this team. I can guarantee that getting over .500 is the next obstacle Doug Collins has his sights on. Using Iguodala in this fashion is what’s best for this franchise right now.
Nabeel Ahmadieh (Cons)
I understand the idea of getting Andre more involved on the offensive side of the ball as he’s had his worst scoring season in five years. But in the long run it’s not worth hampering the development of Jrue Holiday.
Holiday was drafted in the first round by the 76ers to play point guard. It was understood that his ceiling was high, but he had a lot to learn about playing the point since he did little of it, if any, in college (thanks to teammate Darren Collison at UCLA). Jrue has progressed mightily this season learning his role at the one position and improved from his rookie campaign by averaging 13.7 points, 6.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. Don’t forget he’s only 20 years old and spent his rookie season under a joke of a head coach in Eddie Jordan.
When put into play, the new offense moves Holiday away from the ball in more of a two guard role. If we want Holiday to become an elite point guard similar to the likes of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Deron Williams, it’s not a good idea to slow down his learning process and allow him to revert back to old habits.
It’s not like we were desperately losing games and needed to make a drastic change either. The Sixers were fine. After starting off 3-13, we had turned things around with an ensuing 18-13 record once the new offense was instilled. We were and still are in playoff position, and that is much better than the horrendous early season debacle. ‘If it aint broke don’t fix it.’
Look at how Holiday struggled badly in the last two games only scoring eight points on 3/16 shooting and recording seven assists to six turnovers in 66 total minutes. Granted he had his first career triple-double against the Nets in the first contest using the “new” offense. But I promise you that has nothing to do with the new offense, rather a product of the team’s ridiculous 35 fast break points (The most the Nets have given up this year.).
Whether we like to admit it or not, Jrue Holiday at this point in time holds more value to the future success of this franchise. We understand Iguodala’s capabilities and have seen his best basketball. It’s simply not enough. Jrue’s ceiling is far from reached and he could one day be a top-notch point guard. Putting the offense in Iguodala’s hands more frequently is not going to bring the Sixers an NBA Championship this year or next. So as long as the current team is competing on a nightly basis, why tinker with the evolution of our young point guard.
KEEP JRUE ON THE BALL.