Posted by: Philadunkia
12/01/11 10:36 am EST

That is the question…that has been bantered around the offices this week regarding what approach the 76ers should take for the lockout shortened 2011-12 NBA season. 

As you can imagine, there is no consensus here at our offices.

Now that the work stoppage has come to an “unofficial” end and pro hoops talk is starting to build some momentum around town, there also appears to be a clear divide among the Philadelphia faithful on what the Sixers  game plan should be for this upcoming season.  

On one side (in our offices and on the street) are those who say Josh Harris and Co. should give  Rod Thorn the green light to do whatever it takes in order to assemble the best basketball team possible for this 66-game season and thus build on the success the team had in 2010-11.  On the other side are those who say that this abbreviated season presents a perfect opportunity for the Sixers and their new owners to hit the “reset button” in order to get a fresh start and establish a brighter future for this franchise. 

Sixer nation is a country divided. 

So, two scribes here a Philadunkia were charged with defending each of the above positions — “Tank” or “Go for It” — in order to help you choose a side.

In the first of a two part series, Tom Sunnergren states his case for why he feels strongly that the 76ers should, “Go For It” during the 2011-12 season.

The Sixers have to go for it.

Unconscionable contracts, incompetent management, apathetic fans—put all that aside.  Now kick it in the head, roll it up in an old comforter, throw it in the trunk of your car, and toss it in the river. Light a cigarette and drive away.  None of it matters.  Somehow, someway, this is a team that with a nip here and a tuck there can compete.

Like right now.

Here’s why

1.) They’re progressing

The Sixers won 41 games last year, a 14 game improvement over the previous season.  More importantly, they went 38-28 down the stretch—a winning percentage that, if maintained over the course of a season, would give them 47 wins. Furthermore, there’s reason to believe they won’t just maintain this pace, but actually improve upon it.  Their core is constituted of young players who are upward bound. Jrue Holiday is literally getting better every day.  Evan Turner had a bad season last year—bad meaning he underperformed relative to expectations and capabilities—and guess what?  He was still pretty good.  And Thad Young, if kept in the fold, is a perfect fit in Doug Collin’s system. Speaking of which…

2.) Doug Collins

He’s the linchpin.  As we’ve covered before in this space, there aren’t a whole lot of coaches who make a difference in this league.  Doug Collins though, by all indications, is one of them.  He took over a talented but disjointed Chicago team in ’86, improved them by ten games in each of the next two years, and led them to a conference championship series in the third. Two years after that, they won a title (without him, granted).  He took over a lousy Detroit team in ’95, improved them by 18 games his first season, then eight the next.  Then in Washington, widely and rightly viewed as his shittiest coaching performance, he oversaw an 18 game improvement in his first year.

There’s a reason Michael Jordan, the most competitive man on the planet, a man who chases victory so single-mindedly it’s ugly, loves Doug Collins.

Doug Collins wins.

3.) The Center Position

The worst position on our roster is center.  The most well-stocked position in free agency is center.  Read those two sentences again.

There are, by my count, no less than eight players on the market RIGHT NOW who, if they produce as they did last year and we play roughly as we did last year (and I think these are not just fair assumptions, but assumptions that maybe even undersell how the team should perform this year given our age and general trajectory.  See above) would put us within shouting distance of 50 wins in an 82 game season.  Here’s a handful of the top choices on my holy shit it would be sweet if we signed this guy wish list, in order of my guestimation* of how many wins we could expect in a full season if they were added to the roster.

*Albeit an economically sound one.  This is a pretty easy bit of calculus to do too.  Because the Sixers got approximately zero wins of production (alright, Hawes, Speights, and Battie combined for 1 win) from the center position last year, you can more or less just add the wins produced totals of these guys to our total victory tally from last year and get a reasonably accurate projection.  Okay, not the most accurate projection, but definitely the fastest one. Also, some of these guys are power forwards.  Since I’m not doing positional adjustments, I’ve just subtracted a win from them.  I’m also assuming they’ll play center.


55 wins: Kris Humphries (14.8 wins produced in ’10-11)

53 wins: Tyson Chandler (12.2 wins produced in ’10-11)

51 wins: Nene (10.6 wins produced in ’10-11)

49 wins: DeAndre Jordon (7.6 wins produced in ’10-11)

48 wins: Marc Gasol (6.7 wins produced in ’10-11)

48 wins: Chuck Hayes (8.1 wins produced in ’10-11)

47 wins: Andrei Kirilenko (6.8 wins produced in ’10-11)

46 wins: Josh McRoberts (6 wins produced in ’10-11)

Jeff Foster, Greg Oden, and Joel Pryzbilla are also great options (at least upgrades with high ceilings) and none of the above, save maybeNene and Chandler, will require backbreaking, future mortgaging commitments to ink (and even those two are asking for contracts that are bargains against their production).  It’s sort of a perfect storm.  The one hole on on our team (well, the most gaping) can be filled perfectly this offseason.  Round peg. Round hole.


Those are the facts as I see them. And while I admire your insistence on the long view, and accept that a big part of success in team sports is about having a plan and seeing it through, I think it misses something.  Really good franchises have a plan in place, a road they follow, but also maintain the flexibility to recognize when a better one comes along.  They adapt to the facts on the ground.

Here are the facts on our ground.  We have a coach who eats lightening and craps thunder; a surfeit of young, rising, talented wing players; and a team who’s coming together, but who’s progress is stifled by one (festering, black) hole on our roster.  And that hole can be filled cheaply and well this off-season.

Carey, I say we go for it.


8 Responses to “TO TANK OR NOT TO TANK ??”

  1. Joe
    1. December 2011 at 12:58

    Not really sure what reasons the Sixers would have for tanking. The only real need they have is Center and I think that the rookie might be good enough once he gets his pro legs under him. So if we tank, hoping for a top draft pick, who would we pick? All of the top picks are positions that we’re currently good at. Maybe get a PF for when Brand is gone, but that’s about it. Next year’s draft is AWFUL when it comes to Centers. I say spend money on a free agent Center or maybe just a bench guy who can defend on the perimeter or just stand pat. I like the direction this team is going. Really, if they had someone who could have defended Bosh last year, Sixers would have won that series.

  2. Jt's Hoops Blog
    1. December 2011 at 14:08

    Whether they tank or not, either way the Sixers are not making the playoffs again this season. That team greatly overachieved to that 41-41 record. They will certainly not get any better than that. They have no go to guy on offense and their depth is shallow to say the least.

    Andre Igoudala has proven without a doubt that he is no star and he is their best player. The others, save for Elton Brand, Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young, would not make an NBA roster let alone start for them. Give Doug Collins credit for doing so much with so little, but it suffice to say he will not be repeating the same scenario this upcoming season. that’s for sure.

  3. waltpaw
    1. December 2011 at 17:06

    Sixers, sadly, are in the worst position possible for an NBA team. It is a superstar driven league. We have no superstars. We can add a piece and go up a few wins, but they will not be better than a 6th or 7th seed at best. We can keep current core, but the team isn’t bad enough to get a legit star in the draft.

    Why can’t this team be attracting the real stars? Can’t we find a way to be in the market for real talent like Dwight Howard, CP3 or D. Williams?

  4. Fischer
    1. December 2011 at 18:35

    Make Evan Turner the point guard!!!! THAT is his true position. So why did Philadelphia draft him if you weren’t going to use him that way???? Give him TIME on the floor with the ball in his hands and you will win. He was your most mismanaged asset last year!

  5. Love the Sixers, Hate the NBA
    1. December 2011 at 18:50

    I really think it’s time to call it. Not tank, but call it. Let’s get rid of Brand and Iguadala (don’t care how good brand was last year), they have proven that they cannot lead a team to any shred of respectability by them selves. Hopefully we can get some picks for those two, but we really need to let guys like Holiday, Turner, and Young play and grow. Then let’s go into NEXT YEAR’s free agency with some money to spend.

  6. Deerealest315
    2. December 2011 at 01:33

    Jrue Holiday and Thad Young can’t make a nba roster or start for any team??? You shouldnt be writing any blogs JT. Jrue Holiday is going to be an elite point guard he is very skilled at that position. He can shoot, pass, handle and play defense. Thad Young is the most under rated free agents out there. We didnt over achieve we proved we’re young but talented all we need is experience and development! You shouldn’t wirte blogs cause you suck at it!!!

  7. Evan
    2. December 2011 at 07:25

    First off no team goes into the season with intentions to tank, especially not a Doug Collins team! I agree 100% that our weakest link is at center. I personally love Tyson Chandler and think that is the exact type of player that this team needs. With that being said I would not sign him because in order for us to do so we would have to offer him a maximum contract. Not to mention his injury history. Marc Gasol is a good player but I’m not sure that is what our team needs. We need a big, physical rebounder who can play some D. I’m not sure if Gasol can play that role. If we don’t land Chandler I hope the front office addresses the position in some way. Jeff Foster would be a cheap veteran that they could easily add to the roster. But I would take a chance with Greg Oden. I know I previously criticized Chandler for his injury past but I’m only suggesting this if the price is right, it would be a low risk high reward type of signing.

  8. Ricki
    5. December 2011 at 01:24

    @Deerealest315— Learn to read. He said ‘save for Holiday, Young’ etc… that means other than those guys they don’t have any NBA players… You shouldn’t comment on blogs until you learn how to read.

    @Fischer— Turner isn’t a PG, never was, never will be, and certainly isn’t a fit for the NBA at PG. And even if he was, Holiday has that position locked up for the next decade and he’s probably our best player. Turner couldn’t find the floor last year because he just can’t impact an NBA game. IE he just isn’t very good.

    @everyone else— Evan said it best take a chance on a low-rent player. There is no reason to go overspend for an injury prone player. — SEE Brand, Elton; Webber, Chris; Mutombo, Dikembe; Coleman, Derrick. Or the need to panic and spend too much on an average guy. This team is not one player away from competing.

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