The events of the past month or so have worn me down. My usual optimism for this team is virtually gone. There have been ever-so-brief flashes of the potential that I know exists under the surface, but for the most part it's been one disappointment after another. Here's the crazy thing, though, it's not too late to turn it around, and turn it around in a big way.
Call me crazy, but I firmly believe this would be a top five or six 10-man rotation in the Eastern Conference:
- PG: Iverson
- SG: Iguodala
- SF: Thad Young
- PF: Elton Brand
- C: Sam Dalembert
- 1st Big Off Bench: Marreese Speights
- 1st Guard Off Bench: Lou Williams
- 2nd Guard Off Bench: Jrue Holiday
- Situational Offense: Jason Kapono
- Situational Defense: Rodney Carney
- Extra Big: Jason Smith
Is that a perfect rotation? Obviously not. They need another defensive big off the bench who can clean the glass, definitely. You'd like to see more shooters mixed in, but overall, that's a solid squad. You've got excellent offense off the bench in Speights and Lou. A lockdown defender in Jrue. A zone buster and an energy guy on the wings, and even a big who can come in and stretch the floor.
Granted they'll be without Speights and Lou for some time, but even without those guys, there's absolutely enough talent here to beat the alsorans. These are all winable games between now and when Lou should return: Charlotte, Detroit, Golden State, LA Clippers, Washington, Sacramento, Clippers again, Washington, Toronto, Detroit, New Orleans, New York, Sacramento, Minnesota, Indiana, Indiana, Milwaukee. This roster should be capable of a 12-5 record, if not better against those teams. It wouldn't be out of the question that the Sixers could stand at 19-26 when they were back to full strength toward the end of January.
With 37 games remaining, they could easily make a push for the playoffs at that point, and once they got there, I think they'd have a legitimate shot at advancing past the first round if they got the right matchup.
There is a caveat, obviously. None of this will happen as long as Eddie Jordan is their head coach. The ten-man rotation I listed out above will be completely ignored, instead we'll see way too many minutes for Willie Green, not enough minutes for Elton Brand. The big lineup, which can actually defend and rebound, will almost never see the floor. Jrue Holiday will most likely fall to the end of the rotation, again.
I'm almost beyond rage, I'm feeling more despondent at this point. Think about it for a second, what would happen if Eddie Jordan got fired tomorrow and a coach who had even half a clue took over? Brand would immediately go back into the starting lineup, Green would go to the end of the bench. The athletes would be allowed to play a sane defensive system. The rotations wouldn't continually put the team at a disadvantage on the glass. You'd have three plus defenders in your starting lineup and someone would have a stern talk with Thad Young about his personal responsibility to stick with his man, turning him into at least an average defender at the position. Iverson would still be a minus on the defensive end, but unlike Willie, he could actually make up for it on offense and a smarter defensive system could mask his weakness at the point-of-attack without using four players to over-rotate.
The team could get back to the defend and run philosophy in a big way. Their bench could open up leads, rather than dwindle them away. I look at this roster, even with the AI mistake having been made, and I seriously see a playoff team, possibly a top-four team considering the cliff the Hawks have fallen off recently and the fact that Quintin Richardson plays 30 minutes a night for the paper-thin Heat.
Thousands of casual Sixers fans are looking to AI to be the savior, it's not going to happen. What I want more people to start realizing is that this roster is only one move away from respectability, and that move has nothing to do with a player. That move is for our General Manager or perhaps even the owner to admit their biggest mistake and correct it, immediately. It's not too late for this team to turn things around if they get out from under Eddie Jordan's vindictive, asinine coaching system and decisions. I just wish one of the higher-ups would have the gumption to pull the trigger. If it's a financial thing, just imagine what the Wach will be like in the playoffs if you have Iverson on the floor and a legitimate shot of winning a series. Sellouts, that's what we'd see. If you really want to capitalize on the Iverson bump at the turnstiles, you have to put wins on the board. Give those casual fans not only a good show, but a legitimate shot at something to believe in. Firing Eddie Jordan would pay for itself before this season ends, I guarantee it.