Midway through the season, approximately January 17th, forward Andres Nocioni lost his spot in the rotation.  Since then, the reserve who was brought in from Sacramento along with Spencer Hawes for Samuel Dalembert, was seldom seen on the floor. 

Now, head coach Doug Collins has peculiarly decided to bring back Nocioni into the rotation over rookie Evan Turner.   His reasoning makes sense to some, (Nocioni allegedly gives the Sixers a better chance to win NOW.) but not to me. 

With the postseason looming and potential first round competitors in Miami, Boston and Orlando, the Sixers are poised to make an attempt for an upset.  Any of those teams would present a series of highly challenging games for the Sixers and the chances of advancing out of the first round will be unfavorable.  Even if we sneak out of the first round, there is no realistic scenario where this squad is the last team standing in the NBA Finals.  So Doug Collins decision to play Nocioni over Turner should be second-guessed.

After the jump, I list and explain five reasons why I strongly dislike this move:

1)   Like I stated above, we are not winning a championship this season or likely even in 2011-12, anyone who believes so needs to reevaluate their stance as an NBA fan.  Without a single superstar in a top-heavy talented Eastern Conference, the Sixers winning ways through team cohesion can only do so much.  Making the postseason is incredibly surprising for this roster which boasts little talent and owns gleaming holes in the paint.  Even if we won’t win it all, ET can gain monumentally important experience that will assist in his growth for the remainder of his career.  It’s very rare for a No. 2 overall pick to be able to perform in the postseason during his rookie campaign since most are drafted to pitiful teams.  By playing ET and not Nocioni, Turner can get a head start in his NBA growth by experiencing the thrills of the postseason. 

2)   In games that Nocioni has NOTplayed this season for the Sixers the club has gone 17-12.  17-12!  We’re barely an above .500 franchise on the season and we’re five wins over .500 without him !?!  Someone please explain why his services are vital?  I don’t see it. 

3)   Evan Turner is the better player.  They both have comparable numbers and roles, but Turner is the better rebounder, ball handler and defender.  Also, Turner usually isn’t in the ball game late in tight matches, but on the rare occasion when he is, he has never shied away from big moments.  The rookie never seems ‘shook’ by the spotlight, so Nocioni’s 6 years of NBA experience is hardly an added value.  I will give Nocioni the edge in the three-point shooting department though and there are a few nights where the Sixers could spread the floor better with another outside shooter.  Still that one skill set advantage for Noc does not out weigh all that Turner brings to the floor.

4)  Besides the older vets like Elton Brand, Nocioni and Tony Battie, this team is young at its core.  Collins and team president Rod Thorn have a long, tumultuous road ahead of them to make this team competitive on a championship level without a lottery pick and salary cap space.  Evan Turner is one key ingredient for Philadelphia’s long range future.  Andres Nocioni is not.  With his awful contract (2 yrs. remaining at $6.8 per), it’s feasible (and smart) that Nocioni could be moved this summer and will not be part of the team next season.  So what’s better for this team: Nocioni mildly helping us steal two games in a first round bout, or Evan Turner understanding the intensity of the postseason to better himself for the future?

5)   Since the 3-13 start we have the eighth best winning percentage in the association (35-23 for 60.3%).  We’re not claiming that Tuner’s continually improving play is solely responsible for the turnaround, but there is no denying that he has contributed in a positive manner (ball handling, passing, rebounding and defense) over the last 50+ games.  So, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, right? 

Doug Collins is a coach of the year candidate and I hate to challenge him on this Nocioni over Turner idea, but this move raises eyebrows. 

Isn’t the long term future of this franchise more important than a likely first round playoff exit that awaits the 7-6 in summer 2011?

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