With four games in the books and one left on the season-opening road trip, let's take a look at some early trends (for the team and the players) and see if we can pick out the ones that encourage/worry/excite us, and which are most likely to continue.
Let's get the three trends that simply have a 0% chance of continuing, at least not at their current levels. Andre Iguodala is shooting 66.7% from three (12/18), Lou Williams is shooting 50% from three (9/18) and Spencer Hawes is shooting 66.7% from 16-23' (10/15). Iguodala has been red hot from three in every game, Lou mixed in an 0/5 from deep against the Jazz while Spencer is riding 8/8 over the past two games on long twos to his impressive number. There's no way these guys keep shooting at this level. Iguodala was a career 32.3% shooter from distance coming into this year, Lou shot it at 33%. Spencer shot the long two at 40.4% for his career.
It's certainly possible that those guys will have career shooting years, in fact, with Iguoadala's hot start, if he shoots pretty much league average the rest of the way and attempts the same number of threes as last season, he'll finish at 40% on the year. Lou could up his game and Spence as well, but we'd be talking about record-setting seasons for them to keep these levels up. They're going to cool off, and the cooling off period could be extremely detrimental to the team if they don't adjust their attempts down to account for their relative lack of success. Iguodala is attempting 1.8 more threes per game this year, which is more than fine if he's hitting them like this, but if he reverts to a low-30's shooter, it won't be. Lou is in the same boat. Hawes has nearly doubled his per game attempts from 16-23', while his attempts in the lane have dropped. Not the ratio you want to see from your starting center, and a ratio that's going to lead to an even worse scoring output than we saw from last season if his percentage drops to the 40% range, or below.
So that's the downside of the hot starts, and maybe a few things to keep an eye on if/when they cool off. On the other side of the ledger are Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks and Elton Brand. We can start with Jodie. He hasn't been able to hit the broad side of a barn from distance, and he really hasn't added much from anywhere else, either. Jodie has shot the three at near 40% since coming to the Sixers, and you wouldn't expect him to just lose it overnight. The problem is he's getting burn with the starters in the first and the third, and if he keeps shooting like this, the team will be digging out of holes more often than not. He needs to at least represent the threat of hitting a three to keep teams honest.
Jrue has started slow from the perspective of dishing (11 assists through 4 games) and taking care of the ball (12 turnovers through 4 games), but his scoring has been pretty much in line with his career numbers. In Jrue's defense, he's lost at least 6 or 7 assists when bigs failed to convert from point-blank after he set them up with nice passes, but still, we need and expect more distribution out of the PG, especially after the numbers he put up last year. It's been a puzzling as to why he's started this slow, but you can kind of follow the progression. He didn't take care of the ball, at all, through the first two games, so Collins shifted the initiating duties to Igudoala and Williams. When they'll shift back to Jrue is anyone's guess, but when you look back at the game logs from last season
you'll see a similar story. Jrue was shaky at the very beginning of the season, then broke out in a big way once the team had a chance to practice. If the pattern holds, we should start seeing the Jrue from last season very soon.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said about Brand. Elton was pretty good right from the opening tip last season. This year, his shot isn't falling, and he's moving further and further from the hoop (his attempts at the rim have been cut in half since last year). The hope is he just needs to get his legs under him, or maybe play himself into shape, but at the same time, he's going to lose it at some point. It could be right now. His physical skills have deteriorated over his time in Philly, we're just going to have to wait and see if the drop off from last year to this year is going to be more severe.
All told, the Sixers haven't exactly played a tough schedule to this point, but all four games have been on the road and their numbers look very, very strong and they haven't been clicking on all cylinders (we didn't even touch on Thad's sudden infatuation with jumpers he's not very good at shooting). There's a balance on the squad with a number of guys overperforming and some guys underperforming as well. If it all balances out, they should be just fine on the offensive end. Not great, but not bad either. Better than average, which is right where they need to be with their defense.
Here's the question for you guys, which trend is most likely to continue? Which one is going to go the other way first?