It’s time for another edition of Philadunkia 4on4…
As a reminder, this Philadunkia question and answer series is “loosely based” on ESPN.com’s highly successful, NBA related series of posts titled “5on5”.
Our version of this genre of posts will ask 4 Philadunkia scribes to answer 4 topical, hot button questions about our Philadelphia 76ers.
Now you’re probably asking, “Why not simply stick with the “5on5″ format that ESPN.com uses?”
Well as any great hoops coach will tell you — playing 4on4 is the best way to truly learn the game of basketball.
After the jump four key questions that are currently facing our 76ers and some answers from four Philadunkia scribes. Included in this week’s edition are some opinions on yesterday’s Bynum “update”.
1) Fact or Fiction: The Sixers will go .500 or better in their next 16 games?
Jeff McMenamin: Fact, but I’ll say this…The Sixers looked absolutely miserable and gassed playing 10 of their past 11 games on the road. Not only did they have to deal with the toughness of playing on the road, but eight of the 11 teams they faced, if the season ended today, would be 2013 playoff teams. Having three days rest and a game back at the WFC, I think you’ll see a different Sixers team coming out of the tunnel. In the next 10 games the Sixers play three non-playoff teams (TOR twice, NO, Wash), MIL and HOU teams which are borderline playoff teams plus a BKN team which the Sixers narrowly lost to and a MEM team that they handily beat this season. Hopefully you’ll see the return of Andrew Bynum on February 1st where the Sixers have a very easy next six games. They face SAC, ORL, IND, CHA and LAC all at home. In the next 16, I see the team getting at least seven wins for a 7-9 record, but more likely grabbing a record of 8-8 or above.
Tom Sunnergren: Fiction. Fresh off an ugly 4-12 run in their last 16 (sound familiar Eagles fans?), I see a home-heavy schedule giving this increasingly feckless bunch just enough of a shot in the arm to push them to a 7-9 record. I’m penciling them in for wins against the Wizards, Kings, and Bobcats and losses against the Rockets, Spurs, Knicks, Grizzlies, and Clippers. Beyond that, it’s just guesswork.
Steve Toll: Fiction: 6-10 would have to be looked at as a success and that is taking into consideration that 13 of those games are at WFC. Home Court value increases with a teams willingness to take it to the rack, something players on this team abhor. Charlotte and Washington are the only teams on the schedule that the 76ers currently would be favored over on a neutral court. Fortunately for Philadelphia, most of these next 16 games will be played at a very slow pace. Slow pace increases variance, the better team wants as many possessions as possible. If teams come in unmotivated (they will), Philadelphia gets hot from 3 (they could), and the loose balls n’ calls gravitate towards Philly (they might) the team could conceivably win 8 games.
C. Smith: Fiction. I’d like to say that they will go .500 or better, but I just don’t see it happening as I have to assume that Bynum will not see the court during this upcoming 16-game stretch. I see a 7-9 run by the current Sixers roster. Brooklyn appears to have figured things out. Toronto has done the same — without Bargnani. They are 7-3 in their last 10 with L’s to OKC and SAS in that stretch. Memphis will be out for revenge in a big way and the Houston, San Antonio, LAC, Indiana and @ MIL games will not go our way.
2) Fact or Fiction: Releasing Maalik Wayns means the Sixers have finally acknowledged they need a real backup PG and are ready to make a move?
Jeff McMenamin: Fact. When Royal Ivey is your only backup point guard, there’s a major problem. The Sixers ownership has been quiet since a highly active off-season, I think they’re ready to pull the trigger again.
Tom Sunnergren: While the release of Wayns might signal exactly that, trading for a backup point guard just seems a little short-sighted and persnickety to me. Management should be thinking about the future, not wasting time and resources plugging minor holes on a team that’s going nowhere.
Steve Toll: Fiction: To what end? Jrue plays 38mpg, who is the team gonna get of any quality for 10mpg?
C. Smith: Fiction. I hope it’s a fact (no offense Maalik) as I think they need someone to lighten the load on Jrue and keep the ball out of Turner’s hands. However, I suspect is was simply a roster move motivated by financial matters, as Wayns’ contract would have become guaranteed if he was on the roster through January 10th. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wayns back on the Sixers bench this season via a series of 10-day contracts.
3) Absolutely/Likely/Nope/No Way: Andrew Bynum takes to the practice floor before February 1st?
Jeff McMenamin: Absolutely. The big man himself said he’s already running on treadmills and is days away from doing basketball drills again. He seems happy for once and was even laughing during his recent press conference. I haven’t seen this Andrew Bynum since his introductory press conference back in August. It’s a great sign and hopefully he can use the rest of the month to get his legs somewhat back and get accustomed to Doug Collins’ offensive and defensive sets.
Tom Sunnergren: I predict Bynum will have a nine hour meeting with Tony DiLeo before deciding he’ll return to Oregon.
Steve Toll: No Way. I just got off the phone with Tony Dileo and he left me with this, “I usually only answer questions about Bynum that are written by our PR team and asked by Dei Lynam but between you and me; I’d say the odds are strong to quite strong.”
C. Smith: Nope. Walking quickly on a treadmill is a long way from taking the practice floor and going up and down with the team. He has not even begun jogging / conditioning drills yet. Bynum seems to be in no rush to get back to “basketball activities” and I don’t think the show he put on for the media yesterday was anything more than him being bored. Of course there is always the very remote chance that he gets bored of his hairdo as well as watching the Sixers flounder and unexpectedly/crazily decides to suit up one day in the not too distant future.
4) Absolutely/Likely/Nope/No way: If things go further south over the next 16 games, DC may lose this team?
Jeff McMenamin: Nope. I think the team and organization understands the position they’re in. You can’t really blame Doug for the teams most recent stretch of games. He doesn’t have anyone in the paint for him to control the glass, he has an undersized Thad and Turner getting taken to school on a nightly basis and outside of Jrue Holiday he doesn’t really have a guy who can take over a game offensively. To be honest I’m surprised the Sixers have been able to keep games as close as they have. Unless the Sixers go 4-12 in the next 16 or below, then DC shouldn’t worry about a thing.
Tom Sunnergren: No way. While I realize we’re in year three of the Doug Collins experiment here (and year three is when Collins, history tells us, morphs from a maestro into a micro-managing crank) the problem with this team isn’t, has never been, and won’t be effort–it’s talent. He’ll keep them playing hard. He always does.
Steve Toll: No Way. ET will keep up the intensity because sadly, he still believes he could be good. Thad will always go HAM. Jrue is on a quest for a spot as the 3rd/4th/5th/6th/7th PG on the Atlantic Division All-Star Team, he is in it for the long haul. D-Wright and SwaggyP are in a contract year. Hawes and Lavoy are both young, they have no reason to quit even though many nights it looks like just that. Royal and the guy whose Uncle was a good dunker are true veterans, that’s why they’re still getting checks. Kwame is like the Honey Badger. Which leaves us with J-Rich a guy who probably is already tired of DC who we are stuck with for next season and the year after.
C. Smith: No Way. DC may have a nervous breakdown and quit this job after the next 16 games, but he’s not going to lose this squad. This group of youngsters and guys playing for their next contract will toe the line and do whatever Collins asks of them all the way to the end of the season. It could be an ugly end, but they’ll all be in it together. Which is something positive to note.