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Another Night of Jrue?

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Fresh off his fourth start of the season, Jrue Holiday was a hot topic at Sixers practice today. Dei Lynam has a piece including quotes from Eddie Jordan praising Jrue's offensive game, how he pushes the pace, makes the right pass and shoots decently. He also mentions Jrue's defense in passing, which isn't really shocking. Lynam reads between the lines a bit and guesses we'll be seeing Jrue in the starting lineup again tonight when the Sixers take on the Cavs. Good idea?
Here's video from CSN of Jordan and Elton Brand talking about Jrue's contributions:



My thoughts on the small lineup are pretty clear, I hate it. Absolutely despise it. Jordan's comments in the past day or so have basically taken huge shots at not only Elton Brand, but Andre Iguodala as well. Essentially, he's said they haven't had playmakers in the back court all season long. This, again, reinforces what Stephen A. Smith reported back when he broke the Iverson story. Jordan doesn't like Brand because "he doesn't work hard," and he doesn't like Iguodala because he, "doesn't make enough plays off the dribble." So here we are, a couple weeks later, and Jordan has completely torn the blue print for the team up. His promise of making the offense work with these players has been exposed as a blatant lie. The franchise is set to, yet again, abandon Thad at the three and Iguodala at the two with 75% of the season yet to be played. It's pretty much a disaster, the same disaster that got Mo Cheeks fired last season.

You know what? I don't really care. Someone asked me in the comments a very basic question last night. Would I rather see Jrue start or Brand? The obvious answer was both of them, with Iverson coming off the bench, or better yet, Iverson not even being on the team. But it's not worth fighting that battle over and over again. Eddie Jordan is the coach, I don't see that changing any time soon, so I just have to move on. I have to accept that the remainder of this season is going to be about choosing the lesser of two evils. That's the type of decision you have to make when you have a complete moron for a coach.

So looking at the realistic options, Holiday/Iverson/Iguodala/Thad/Dalembert or Iverson/Iguodala/Thad/Brand/Dalembert, I'm going to choose the former for a couple of reasons.

  1. Forget about Elton Brand being a difference maker for the Sixers. Not because he's washed up. Not because he hasn't fully recovered from the Achilles injury. Not because the game has changed and you can't have a "plodding" power forward anymore. Those reasons are all excuses. The reason we can forget about Brand being a difference maker here is that our head coach won't let him. Even when he's on the floor (at PF), he rarely touches the ball anywhere but 25-feet from the hoop. He's effectively frozen out of this ridiculous offense, getting most of his shots off 15-to-20-foot dribble drives to the hoop, spot-up jumpers or offensive rebounds. Not to mention his disappearing minutes and shrinking role on the team. There's something personal going on, and Jordan is too obstinate to change course. He's going to continue to use every excuse in the book to marginalize Brand, and Jordan isn't going anywhere, so we just have to get used to the idea. Think of Brand as an extremely talented bench player who will only get significant minutes due to injuries. I realize how much money he's making, but I'm done expecting a future for him with the team, it's just never going to happen as long as Jordan is calling the shots.
  2. Jrue Holiday is a big part of the future of the team, whether Jordan likes it or not. Getting him minutes ahead of Willie Green is priority number one as far as I'm concerned.

Jordan is making this an impossible choice, I'm backing the option that points toward development (of Jrue) with the full understanding that it's going to further muddy the waters going forward for Iguodala (SG or SF?) and Thad (SF or PF?). Again, the lesser of two evils.

For the record, though, this "trend" of teams starting fours who stretch the floor to three-point range is hardly something to overreact to. Take a look around the league, I come up with 7 or 8 teams who go with that type of alignment in their starting lineups (Washington [Jamison], Dallas [Dirk], Golden State [Vlad], New York [Harrington], Charlotte [Diaw], Orlando [Lewis], Phoenix [Frye] and possibly OKC [Green]). Most teams have a big off the bench who can stretch the floor, but it's hardly wide-spread enough that you can't compete with a traditional lineup, if it becomes a problem within the game, you can adjust with a smaller lineup. Not to mention the fact that most of the teams I listed above simply cannot handle size down low, so playing big against them give you tremendous mismatches and an advantage on the boards. Not one of the excuses Jordan makes up, or writers proliferate, holds water. Eddie Jordan simply desires a small lineup with four perimeter players to make his offense more efficient, this has nothing to do with defense. In fact, defense never even enters into the equation.

So the Elton Brand signing is a complete and utter failure, thanks at least to some degree, to the Eddie Jordan signing. Ed Stefanski has a double-helping of egg on his face, but none of it matters. People are only going to games to see Allen Iverson jack up shots, the team is sinking like a rock and celebrating like they won the championship after a win against a helpless Golden State team and I'm left hoping a rookie PG will start over an $80M power forward who may or may not have had a chance to be a the perfect half-court complement to the team's open floor dependency, only we never got the chance the to see it.

When I first started writing this post my intention was to use it to shake some of the pessimism that's been clouding my mind for the past couple of weeks, so let's end it on a high note. If Jrue is, in fact, given the starter nod until Lou Williams gets back, he's going to have a huge opportunity to supplant Williams in the lineup even after his return, and as bad an idea as this incarnation of the small lineup is, Lou/Iverson/Iguodala/Thad/Dalembert would be infinitely worse.