After discussing the Mavericks NBA Finals upset of the Heat at length, there’s one thing all of us here at the Philadunkia offices can agree on — as a team, the 76ers are closer to being the Dallas Mavericks then they are to bing the Miami Heat. When you first think about that statement, it’s great news, considering the Mavs just won the NBA title.
However, the key words in the above paragraph are “closer to being”. Make no mistake about it, the Sixers are NOT the Dallas Mavericks and they have a long way to go before they can compete for an NBA title like the Mavs did this past season. Still there are enough similarities between the two franchises that there are a few ideas that helped Dallas grab the championship hardware which if applied properly here in Philadelphia could push the Sixers to the next level.
The Philadunkia staff took notes during the Mavs destruction of the Heat and from those notes we complied a list of 5 Things the 76ers Can Learn from the 2010-11 Mavericks.
Check out the list after the jump.
You need a star player – Many “experts will argue that you need a least two “star” caliber NBA win an NBA title. Still others will say that your best chances of grabbing the hardware at the end of the NBA post season come when you have three “star” players on your team (see Pat Riley). One could argue either point correctly. However one thing is for certain – a franchise can NOT win an NBA ring without one absolute, no-doubt about it, bonafide “star” on the squad.
The Mavs proved that you can win it all by combining one “star” caliber player with a great supporting cast and a head coach who knows the game. I’d suggest that the 76es have one of those elements (head coach), possibly two (supporting cast – one could also correctly argue the supporting cast lacks an interior presence, but they’re still solid).
But the Sixers front office knows they do not have a “star” player on this roster and haven’t had one for years. It’s time to address that issue.
Basketball Focused Ownership Matters– Billionaire Mark Cuban has had one obsession since the day he purchased the Mavericks – to win an NBA title. Cuban has spared no expense in making the Mavs one of the most attractive and best run franchises in the League. He and the Mavs front office have also done everything possible from a basketball perspective to make that dream of winning an NBA title come true. He came close in 2006 and now he finally has a ring in his 11thyear as the owner of the Mavericks. In short, Cuban’s laser focused dedication to roundball has paid off.
The Sixers on the other hand have been Comcast’s “other” sports franchise since 1996. I’m not saying that Ed Snider & Co. have neglected the 7-6 over the years, but there is no denying that the Flyers are the favorite son in this sports family. The fact that Eddie Jordan survived the entire season in 2009-10 is all the proof you need of this theory. The result of Snider & Co.’s Flyer-centric approach has been a host of ghastly basketball errors that make Sixers fans want to cry and a single trip to the NBA Finals in the last 15 years.
Hopefully, that is all abut to change. Incoming billionaire owner Michael Davis does NOT own any other sports franchises. So we can only dream that he becomes the Mark Cuban of Philadunkia nation and that his focus on hoops will help push the Sixers to an NBA title.
An Old Dog Can Learn New Tricks– In this case, the old dog we are referring to his is 11-year NBA veteran Jason Terry. Throughout his career Terry has been known as a dead-eye shooter and during his time in Dallas he has assumed the role of instant offense coming off the Mavs bench. There’s certainly nothing wrong with being that type of player. Lord knows a host of NBA cats have made a decent living being just that guy. But if the Mavs were going to win the NBA title, they needed more from Terry. Head coach Rock Carlisle challenged Terry to improve his all around game. Specifically he challenged Terry to be accountable on defense and become a better ball distributor. Over the last two years Terry has worked hard on these elements of his game. His improvement in those areas was very evident during this year’s Playoffs and allowed him to be a huge part of the Mavs upset of the Heat in the Finals.
We’re looking at Louis Williams to take special note of Terry’s recent transformation and improve his own all-around game. Much like Terry during his first 11 years, Louis is a very good jolt of offense either as a starter or coming off the Sixers bench. Whether it is through his 3-point shooting or his ability to get to the rim, Louis provides the Sixers with buckets whenever they need him to do so. However, if the Sixers are ever going to move to that “next level” in the NBA, they need Louis to cease being a one-dimensional player. If the Sixers are to become contenders in the East, they need Louis to stop being a liability on defense as well as improve his court vision and passing skills.
Long, Athletic Centers Who Care Can Make A Difference – It took Tyson Chandler several years and at least four scenery changes before his tough minded approach surfaced and his skills developed to the point where he became a game changing player. Thus one could say that was a little slow reaching his potential. Obviously along with Terry, he was a difference maker for the Mavericks this season, so he eventually realized his potential. The important thing to learn from Chandler who came straight out of Dominguez HS (CA) to the NBA is that if a raw, athletic big man works hard on his game he can grow as a player and realize his potential. Chandler did just that, and as a result he has a ring.
Now think back to Samuel Dalembert’s tenure in Philadelphia. Sammy was the last one in the gym and the first one out. He also had a reputation for forgetting to bring his basketball kicks to practice. At game time he frequently took plays off or simply couldn’t execute the plans of the Sixers coaching staff. “Big Sammy” never appeared to truly care about basketball and thus he never developed as a player. Now as he enters his 9th year in the League, Sammy is the same offensively challenged, shot blocking, bad foul taking, no knowledge of the game, big man that he was in his rookie season. As a result he is ring-less.
The lesson here for the Sixers — who are currently in desperate need of a center who can contribute on a nightly basis – is that whatever big man they acquire (through the Draft, free agency or via trade) Rod Thorn must make sure he loves the game of basketball and is willing to work hard to get better at his craft. As Chandler has proved, bigs with that mental toughness and willingness to put in the extra work can eventually realize their full potential.
Show No Fear– The Mavs showed respect for Heat, but it was obvious that they were not scared or in awe of the self proclaimed dynasty in waiting from Miami. Hell, DeShawn Stevenson even went as far as criticizing the play of “King” James after Game 4. Outside of DeShawn’s comments, Dallas played the underdog role perfectly. They believed in each other and remained confident within the sanctuary of their locker room, while saying all the right things in the media. Then they went out played aggressive basketball and took it to the Heat rather then playing not to lose. That’s a winning formula.
The Sixers are much younger then the grizzled veteran Mavs squad that won the NBA title and to be honest at times their youth showed against the Heat. They frequently looked overwhelmed by Miami’s star power, not the Heat’s skills and that awe cost them in the post season. The 7-6 are a team on the rise in the NBA and will be thrust into the role of the “hunter” next season. As they attempt to chase down the Miami’s, Orlando’s and Boston’s of the East (the “hunted”) it’s important for the Sixers (the “hunters”) to respect opponents perceived to be superior to them, but show no fear. Collins’ young squad must stay aggressive and confident as they pursuit the current “powers” in the East, just like the Mavs did in the Finals against the heavily favored Heat.