Inside the Sixers: From top to bottom, Sixers went down, down, down
Elton Brand At the start of this season, Brand still had one thing in his favor: No one was certain he couldn't be that 20-10 player again. Sure, folks were fairly certain the signing was a full-blown mistake, but until Brand had a healthy season in this city, you could pretend maybe he wasn't on his career's downswing.
At the start of this season, Brand still had one thing in his favor: No one was certain he couldn't be that 20-10 player again. Sure, folks were fairly certain the signing was a full-blown mistake, but until Brand had a healthy season in this city, you could pretend maybe he wasn't on his career's downswing.
Dalembert has been fine this season; for one decent-length stretch, while also dealing with the earthquake devastation in Haiti, he was actually quite good. But if you look at his development as a player, there isn't any. He still has only one post move: dunk the ball off a lob. He's a phenomenal rebounder and shot-blocker, but he has been both those things for years, and it rarely wins this team games.
Green's game, now that he's a veteran, is exactly what it has always been: professional, hardworking, and the same every night. Coming into this season, no one figured Green's effort to be the make-or-break. And it wasn't. And it won't be.
As in previous seasons, Iguodala started this year with an eye on his first all-star bid. He's finishing it with a strained relationship with this city, one tired of his on-court complaining and seemingly poor attitude. His numbers are fine, but he's failed at leading this team.
Holiday has been the break in this cloud-filled season. But the revelation has been pricey: It has cost the confidence of guard Lou Williams. If the Sixers had started well, Holiday's minutes would have been limited all along. But they didn't, and because of that, they've found their point guard of the future.
Fans assumed the team had finally found its outside shooter. Kapono entered this season as a niche-market commodity, an assassin-for-hire to teams wanting that outside weapon. For much of the season, coach Eddie Jordan had no use for him, cutting him completely out of the lineup. Now he's playing more because of Thaddeus Young's injury, although it feels like too little, too late.
The more minutes Meeks gets - and he's been getting a decent number lately - the more it seems his upside is minimal, as is his downside. He's signed through 2010-11, for a bargain-basement price. But the issue is he's small, shorter than his 6-foot-4 listing, and he doesn?t seem much more than a role player, very similar to Green except a purer shooter.
Going into next season, Smith could be playing to stay in the league. He's had a disappointing third NBA season, but it's tough to gauge how much of his out-of-rhythm play was a hangover from last season's ACL tear, and how much was just his lack of meaningful minutes. Compared to the upside that was present after his rookie year, Smith's stock is lower, much lower.
Consider Speights the anti-Holiday of the team. No player on this roster has gone from promising to a liability faster than Speights. Coming out of college, Speights carried the knock that he was lazy. Last year, the coaching staff kept him in check. This season, he's gained weight and lolled through workouts. And you can see the results - or lack thereof - during his minutes.
Entering this season, Williams was offered an opportunity to raise his game from bench spark to starter. He lost his job to a 19-year-old. Even worse, his game seems to have less confidence. He still goes to the basket with the same explosiveness as always, but the trademark of his perimeter game has been the pump fake, which he does almost every time he catches the ball, even when he should be taking the shot.
Young has always seemed like a guy who benefited from being on the outside of the play, looking in. Run a pick-and-roll or a three-man game away from him and let him crash the weak-side glass. If anyone has been handcuffed by Jordan's offense, it's been Young. He went from one of the NBA's top sophomores to needing to prove himself all over again.
Inside the Sixers:
One NBA season, seven whirlwind months, shouldn't cause this much destruction.
But scanning the 76ers' roster, you flash over names of guys who came into this season with certain expectations and finished with others.
A win-loss record is the final stamp on a team's success, but player development paves the future.
Unfortunately for the Sixers, there might be only one player on this season's roster whose star appears on the rise.
In alphabetical order, let's take a look at the team's most notable players:
Inside the Sixers:
Read Kate Fagan's 76ers blog, Deep Sixer, at wwww.philly.com/sixers.
Blog response of the week
Subject: End of days.
Posted 04:25 p.m. Wednesday
Can the rest of the team just take the last week off too?