WANTED: A SHOOTER (PART II)

Yesterday in Part I of this post I looked at just how bad the the 76ers shooting woes were in 2011-12 (regular & post season).  Today I am going to look at a few solutions for the 7-6’s inability to put the ball in the basket.

For starters, the Sixers as a franchise need to decide who they are and what style of basketball they are going to play from this year forward.  As of right now they are comprised of athletic guards and slow big men.  Because of the two front court starter’s inability to move, well, gracefully, Philly has to slow down the offense to get them involved; often using Spencer Hawes in a side pick-and-roll to get him open for an open 15-foot jump shot (his only bread and butter).  When Hawes and Elton Brand are off the court, the team seems to be geared toward a faster paced type of game; suiting for an athletic and youthful lineup but difficult to maintain and continue running if you sub in one of the slower/older big men.

Which one suits the Sixers better?  That’s what this franchise needs to decide and stick by it. 

If management sees Brand and Hawes (both of which have been cut, traded, unsigned, or amnestied in a million hypothetical ways already just by me) in the team’s future plans, the Sixers need to add and build accordingly.  That means switching the offense to a pure inside-outside attack and bringing in players that fit that offensive scheme. 

If not, Collins might have to loosen the grip a little bit on his young guns when the ball is in their hands and let them roam freely.

Personally, I would like to see the offense work directly through Jrue Holiday more.  I think the most beneficial thing the team could do at this point, would be to commit early to using more high pick-and-rolls with Jrue and either Dre, Turner or Thad; which will directly open up the rest of the court later in the game. 

I am a big believer in letting your point guard make the offensive decisions; to me, that’s what he’s supposed to do.

With Jrue, you have a point guard capable of passing, scoring and beating the double team consistently.  He has shown impeccable decision making skills and can easily run a read and react offense; think Oregon Ducks if you will.  With his natural ability to get to the rim and finish, committing to this style of game early will open up the inside out options later for his teammates. 

Consider this: Jrue begins the possession at the top of the key. He receives a ball screen from Evan Turner / Thad Young, who eventually slip then cut.  Jrue, reading the defensive pressure either takes off to the rim, hits the open screener cutting to the rack after the switching defender tries to stop the ball, or kicks out to Meeks / Dre who can each judge and react with the flow of the offense from there.  Add in a future, undisclosed but hopefully forthcoming “knock down” shooter and a physical offensive post player and you have yourself an offensive set with multiple scoring options.

Speaking of a hopeful, forthcoming “knock down” shooter, it must be Josh Harris and company’s prime goal to add that player this offseason.  When you enter an arena and have shooters that are threats to score whether they are sitting on the bench or running the floor, the offensive spacing and opportunities become larger.  The Sixers don’t have that guy as of today (the stats, as already discussed are indicative of that) and if they want to challenge the Eastern Conference contenders for years to come, they need to find that guy; be it by trade, free agency, or draft. 

Just look at the Bulls as prime examples of the necessity of a pure shooter that needs to be accounted for at all times (Keith Bogans/Rip Hamilton/Kyle Korver during the playoffs weren’t it).

It can’t be denied what the likes of Ray Allen, Rudy Gay, Kevin Durant, Tony Parker, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and others bring to the table on the offensive side of the ball.  These guys knock down jumpers in big time moments.  They are known for their abilities to hit shot after impossible shot. On the white board before every game they always have a “Stick Like Glue”, “Don’t let him touch the ball”, “Don’t let him get hot”, “Stay on his hip all game” label next to their name. They open up the floor for their teammates to “do what they do”. They are good for a plethora of wins by themselves. The Sixers don’t have that guy.

The Sixers need that guy.

Let’s play a quick game. Ask this question to any person knowledgeable of the 76ers current roster and offensive identity and see what they say: “There are five seconds left in the game, the Sixers, who are on the road, are down by two points.  Who do you have take the last shot for the win?”

I guarantee you will get three or four different answers or three or four different scenarios as to what would be best for the team. 

That’s a problem my friends!  Do you think anyone in Los Angeles (both for the Clippers and Lakers) has anyone but Kobe and CP3 in mind?

If the Celtics showed the Sixers one thing in Game 7, it was that they had guys that can hit an open shot and Philadelphia didn’t.  They showed that they had guys that can hit difficult shots in difficult moments.  They showed that they had guys that were capable of stepping up and saying, “you know what, I’ll take over from here”. They showed that the Sixers don’t have a go to guy.  They showed that defense, in this case, isn’t enough.  They showed that them that they just aren’t ready to go to the dance quite yet.  They showed them that until they land a few more offensive weapons (mainly a leading scorer that doesn’t come off the bench), they are going to continuously be denied of what they truly want: that final dance with the girl everyone wants to be with in the end.

That one girl, of course, being named Larry O’Brien.

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