Through three games, Elton Brand has been a force. Not in the 25+ points/game way he was a force back in his Clippers days, but statistically, he's been a beast. It's not hidden production, either. Brand has clearly been the best big on the roster, which isn't saying much, but more than that, he's been a legitimate rebounder and interior defender. Can he keep it up for the entire season? That may not be the important question.
Before we get too deep into the questions, here are the numbers I was talking about:
- Offensive Rating: 113 (113 points-per-100-possessions with Brand on the floor)
- Defensive Rating: 100 (100 points-per-100-possessions allowed with Brand on the floor)
- 4.1 offensive rebounds/36 minutes (11.9% Offensive rebounding rate)
- 2.7 steals/36 minutes
- 2.0 blocks/36 minutes
What makes the OFR and DFR numbers even more impressive is the fact that Brand has played 50 of his 106 minutes with Spencer Hawes on the floor with him. Hawes' OFR is 61. Think about that for a second. For nearly half of his minutes, the team's OFR is 61, yet his average is 52 PP100P higher. Kinda makes you wonder what would happen if the Hawes experiment was scrapped altogether.
Anyway, back on point. This season began as an attempt to get back to the playoffs (if you believe what Collins and Thorn were selling over the summer), it quickly morphed into creating a winning atmosphere. If last game's rotations are any indication, it's no morphing into a developmental year. Collins made a concerted effort to get Jrue, Turner and Iguodala minutes together (this should've been the focus from the first day of training camp, imo, but that's neither here nor there.) There is one priority that may be emerging right in front of our eyes.
If Elton Brand continues to play at this level, could he possibly recoup some of his trade value? What if these numbers hold up through 20 games? Or 30? Or 40? If he's still playing like this come the trade deadline, there just might be some teams on the fringe of contention who'd be willing to take the risk of acquiring the rest of Brand's contract.
I'm not going to get into potential trades, because any trade that moves Brand's contract is a win so long as Gilbert Arenas isn't the player the Sixers are getting in return. I do, however, think Collins and Thorn should have this in mind as the season wears on. There are subtle things Collins can do to showcase Brand's reclaimed productivity. Don't burn him out (70 minutes in two nights is not smart), get him on the floor with as many good players around him as possible. Maybe run a little more offense through him, especially when he has favorable matchups.
I love to talk about how important it is for the long-term success of this team to get the young guys out there as much as possible. To accelerate their learning curve. I stand by that, but Brand isn't blocking anyone in the front court. There are no long term answers on the roster up there, and the case can be made that polishing up Brand's tarnished image to the point where he's a viable trade candidate is even more important to the team's future than the development of anyone outside of Turner and Jrue. If they can find a way to move Brand, a slew of new doors will open up over the next couple of summers.
Even if he isn't moved, though, it's great to see him playing like this. We saw glimpses last season, let's hope this time the old Brand is here to stay.