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The New Look Philadelphia 76ers
By Bob Kovack
 

The Philadelphia 76ers are a more talented, much improved basketball team than that of last year's bunch and they do play an exciting brand of basketball making them more enjoyable to watch.  Jim O'Brien is the right man for the job and the team appears to heading in the right direction.

However, with all that being said they are still a young team that only has Allen Iverson as their lone star and being better than last year's weak 33-49 squad really is not saying that much.  It is refreshing to finally see some younger guys actually getting some playing time, which was not the case during the Larry Brown era, but that philosophy does have its' negatives to go along with the positives. 

Kyle Korver has been a treat for Philadelphia fans to watch him knock down three-ball after three ball at a clip of about 45 percent,  averaging just under 13 points a game.  Korver also has exhibited other contributions to the team too with some nice swing passes that lead to open looks, decent rebounding and constantly diving on the floor for loose balls.

First round draft pick, Andre Iguodala has shown flashes of the athleticism that the Sixers front office raved about when they took him with the 9th overall pick in last year's draft.  He too has illustrated that he can help this team in multiple aspects on the court, but he is not a scorer by nature and there is reason he barely averaged over nine points a game in college with the Arizona Wildcats.

Other inexperienced players, such as Willie Green, John Salmons and Josh Davis are getting significant minutes at times too, but there it is still a wonder out there if these guys can play in this league. 

In the off-season leading into training camp, all everybody heard from the Sixers organization was that Green was ready to be a starter at the two-guard position.  Yet, that has not really come to fruition with Green's play and playing time being sporadic at best.  Josh Davis, last year's MVP of the CBA has been starting for this team at the forward position and scored a career high 19 points against the Celtics on Thanksgiving eve, but that looks to be a fluke as he has not done much since.

Salmons was averaging over 23 minutes a game through the first 17 games of the season, but continues to make poor decisions, forces too many shots and has done little thus far to warrant that kink of playing time.

Last year's surprise sensation, Samuel Dalembert has seen his minutes along with Kenny Thomas' dropped significantly as compared to last year.  Coach O'Brien has been quoted as saying both these guys need to learn the system more and in Thomas' case needs to play more aggressive.  Dalembert usually gives a rest to starting center Marc Jackson who has played similar to the way he played last year before the injury, averaging 14.6 points per game through the first 17 games, but needs to rebound much better to be a starting center in the NBA.  It would be great to see what would happen if  Jackson and Dalembert were on the court together at the four and five positions, but O'Brien has not done that as of yet.

This Sixers team is still in a work in progress and O'Brien continues to search for a starting lineup that he finds suitable to win.  The team is fortunate in the fact that they play in the Atlantic Division, where despite their 6-10 start they found themselves only two games out of first place.

They can not wait around too much longer though and need to start to find their identity as team and come up with some sort of starting five by at least the New Year.  Iverson is still Iverson, but he needs to take some better shots and continue to grown in his new point guard role.  This team is far from ready to contend with the elites of the Eastern Conference, but is still good enough to win this pathetic division and could possible make some noise in the playoffs.

To vent your opinions on the topic and for any comments or questions directed at Bob Kovack at blkovack@yahoo.com

 

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