So much went wrong last year with the 76ers.
No defined roles, divided leadership, and enough losses to get Eddie Jordan, the team's first-year head coach, fired within 24 hours of season's end.
But as this off-season has progressed, so too have the Sixers' prospects: the hiring of head coach Doug Collins, the drafting of guard Evan Turner with the overall No. 2 pick, and the trading of malcontent center Samuel Dalembert to the Sacramento Kings.
For all those smart moves, the most exciting revelation might have been the efficient play of Andre Iguodala, the Sixers' supposed franchise player, during the recent FIBA World Championship.
During the 2009-10 NBA season, Iguodala looked consistently frustrated. He took too many three-pointers (303), missed too many important free throws, and rarely came through on end-of-game sets.
Playing for Team USA, which won the gold medal on Sunday, Iguodala looked like the multifaceted player - not the desperate scorer - most Sixers fans wish he would become. In 18.8 minutes a game, Iguodala averaged 5.7 points on 66.7 percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists a game. In one opening-round victory over Brazil, Iguodala played 29 minutes, took only one shot, and had five rebounds and five assists.
His play was impressive. It also led pundits to suggest this type of secondary role is the one for which he's best suited.
Does Iguodala agree?
"Not really," Iguodala said. "If you play well in one setting, people think you need to do the exact same things in the next setting in order to succeed. But here, everyone had a role to fill."
Iguodala said only three members of Team USA played the way they do for their NBA team: Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, and Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler.
"My focus was on defense," Iguodala said. "If I didn't do my job, I would be letting down my team."
An overflow of talent was paramount to Team USA's success, but so too was coach Mike Krzyzewski's ability to define each player's role. No confusion about who would be the go-to scorer, who would be the defender, who would be the team leaders.
The Sixers need some of that.
"I think Coach Collins is going to be able to do the job of putting me in a position to attack more, where I won't have to exert energy on the perimeter," Iguodala said. "Last year, our offense had me outside the perimeter. I shot a lot of threes, but it wasn't my intention to do that. I'm going to attack the rim more."
Although everyone has witnessed Iguodala's effectiveness as a rebounder/slasher/defender, he's still ready to show up on Sept. 28, the team's first day of training camp at St. Joseph's, to accept the role of go-to scorer.
"That's something I can do," Iguodala said. "I never shy away from a role. I talked to teammates throughout the summer and said, like, 'You have to help me lead the team, get the ball in the open court.' And vice versa. I have to help Jrue [Holiday] be a better point guard. I have to help Evan Turner be the best rookie in the league. We have to pick each other up. I learned a lot of that with Team USA this summer."
A no-go. According to one Sixers front-office source, the team is "not in any discussions at all" regarding a potential three-way trade involving the Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets. In a scenario reported Wednesday by Ken Berger of cbssports.com, the Sixers would consider trading the expiring contracts of Jason Kapono and Willie Green along with the talent of Thaddeus Young and Iguodala to the Nuggets for superstar Carmelo Anthony.
The same source said that while the trade has been discussed internally "a little," the franchise believes it has no real shot at Anthony, who has said he would agree to be traded to the Nets, Knicks, Magic, or Bulls.
Check out the latest Carmelo Anthony three-way trade rumors. Read Kate Fagan's blog,
Deep Sixer, at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/deep-sixer/.
Catch her tweets, too, at DeepSixer3 and a full story on Iguodala in Friday's Inquirer.