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Evaluating the Pieces of a Bad Team

With all this losing going on, the Sixers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Their young players need to be developed, but can you trust their production when they're asked to do more than they're capable of to make up for the shoddy construction of the roster as a whole? TK76 asks the questions, foremost among them: What happens if they've become the Clippers East?

My big concern now is whether the team is so bad we can no longer adequately evaluate the players. You need to have at least some framework in which these young guys operate. If they are asked to perform outside their normal NBA role than it won't be a fair evaluation.

As an example, we want to see Meeks try to be a scorer, shooter and reasonable defender. But if the offense is so broken he is asked to be a creator, to guard SF's and play without any defensive help on the perimeter he's going to look terrible.

Likewise, Thad is tougher to judge. We know he's not a good rebounder. But he's been amazingly efficient as a scorer this year. But if the team continues to struggle, I wonder if he will try to do too much. That could mask his positives. Likewise, it's hard to know if his defense or rebounding has incrementally improved when there is no quality defensive center when he is on the floor.

Turner and Jrue are both being asked to do a ton offensively. Jrue is holding up well for stretches, while Turner does not seem ready for that level of responsibility in the offense. They are suffering breakdowns, which is not the end of the world given their lack of experience. But how can you adequately gauge their progress when the team is playing losing basketball overall.

On the flip side, some players put up big numbers on bad teams. And it's not always easy to know what numbers are empty. Like on the T-Wolves Beasley and Love have put up some huge stats. How much of that projects to helping a good team win - versus simple stat stuffing in the vacuum of lesser talent. Likewise, is Brand's improved rebounding a result of Sam's departure, or is it a real improvement. When Turner steps up without Iguodala, does that really reflect positively or negatively on either player? And is Brand's improved production partly a reflection of him being the last guy in the frontcourt with a pulse?

This is the type of dilemma the Clippers and T-Wolves struggle with year after year. You want to know how your players project to perform on a more complete team, where their strengths and weaknesses can be optimized. I realize you can still make judgments about the players on the floor... but the big question remains how much of the individual successes and failures are due to being on a horrible team.

This was the heart of the argument for bringing Andre Miller in the AI trade. Have a stabilizing influence to aid in player development and evaluation. Unfortunately, it lead to organizational myopia, where they thought they had a better core of players that were more playoff ready and on the rise. But now that the flawed but serviceable vets (Miller, Sam, Green) are gone, we realize exactly where this team is. But it's that much harder to know where to go from here.

Obviously the team needs to land a superstar in the draft. But in the meantime, they need to find the best way to develop and evaluate the guys on the roster.