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First Half Review: The Bigs

Part three of our first half review will feature the most hotly-debated players on the team. When Elton Brand returns, this group should see a big shakedown in minute distribution. It's anyone's guess as to how that will affect the production of these guys.

After the jump, we'll take a look at the splits for the Sixers' power forwards and centers, see who's been a second-half warrior in the past and make the case for more minutes for a certain rook.

Up first, the Haitian Sensation:


The chicken/egg debate here is whether Sammy's minutes are down because his fouls/36 are up quite a bit, or whether his fouls/36 are way up because he's making the most out of his minutes. I think the answer is that his minutes first got cut because of foul trouble, and now he's unafraid to hack because he won't be playing more than 20-25 minutes either way.

His rebounding numbers, which have always been solid, have improved. This is a great sign, shows that he isn't pouting, complaining about minutes. Or, more importantly, if he is complaining it isn't affecting his play.

Last season, Sammy was a better offensive player in the first half, but probably a better fit for the team in the second (more rebounds, less FGA, less TOs). More on Sammy's minutes later.

  • Overall: Sammy's per 36 numbers have been fine, and his FGA/36 has been down, which are both good signs. Personally, I expected (or hoped for) a bit more production out of Sammy, and possibly some growth over last season's numbers. It hasn't happened, and he's been marginalized, so overall, he's been a disappointment.
  • Projection: More of the same from Sammy. He is what he is, which really isn't as bad of a thing as we sometimes make it out to be.

The question of the hour, what can we expect from Elton Brand?

I used Brand's splits from his last full season, 2006-2007, for the chart above. I kind of doubt you needed the numbers to realize that Brand was a huge disappointment, even before the injury. The numbers you see for the first half of this season represent career-lows across the board, outside of rebounds. If you're looking for explanations/reasons/excuses for the performance, two legitimate ones stand out to me. 1. He was coming back from a very serious injury and a full-year on the shelf. 2. His integration into the team was handled extremely poorly by everyone involved.

Let's ignore the re-injury probability for now, and talk about what to expect from EB in the second half. I think it's been made clear to him that he needs to meld with the team, rather than vice versa. For his stats, I think this is a good thing. Instead of walking the ball up the court and feeding him in the post, against a set D, the Sixers will continue to push the ball and Elton should get a higher percentage of his shots against a scattered defense. The number one reason behind the Sixers' improved FG% is opportunity. Everyone on the roster is getting higher percentage shots now because of numbers advantages on breaks, better floor spacing and recognition of mismatches by the coaching staff.

If you're wondering where EB's shots will come from, your guess is as good as mine at this point. If it were up to me, I'd give him all of Willie's 7.7/game, maybe take a shot or two away from Miller and Lou, then the rest would come out of Dalembert/Evans shares. The key has to be to get the shots to your most efficient scorers, and if Brand is right, he will be one of them.

  • Overall: Horribly underperformed.
  • Projection: Big, huge second half. Provided he stays healthy.
Up next: Reggie...

You want to hear something funny? Reggie Evans has been a very efficient offensive player in his limited minutes this season. Sounds crazy, and it's another example of a stat that belies what your eyes tell you, but 1.37 points/shot is very good efficiency. 61.7% from the line is a vast improvement. His FGA/36 is down considerably, another good sign. He's kept his impressive rebound rate up.

The only disappointment I can find in Reggie's numbers is the larger role he's been asked to play for the team. Had Brand not been injured, I think his minutes would've been cut. Give him 8 minutes/game or so to come in, play spaz defense, grab some boards, make contact with opposing players' genitals. He can fit that role very nicely, let's just hope he isn't asked to do more than that in the second half.

  • Overall: Met expectations.
  • Projection: Smaller role in the second half, hopefully.

For the final three bigs, we'll just look at their stats from the first half of this season...

What we have here, is unexpected production from two old dudes, and a young dude just demanding minutes. I don't think we need to start a petition to get Theo nor Donyell more minutes at this point. I'd like to see Donyell in there once in a while when the offense goes stagnant. The role DiLeo has carved out for Theo is fine by me. No arguments with the usage of either.

When it comes to Speights, however, there are arguments to be made. This guy is such a talented scorer, you could make the argument that inserting him in the starting lineup right now would be a wise move. Looking at the stats, however, I don't think it's the right move at this point. Marreese is a talented scorer, but the team as a whole underperforms greatly defensively when he's on the floor.

We've talked extensively about Sammy's basketball IQ, and while I do believe Speights will surpass Sammy on both sides of the ball if he continues to work hard, he is not there yet. He's completely out of position on defense on a regular basis. He relies on his athletic ability to block shots from behind instead of moving his feet to stay in front of his man. He's slow on rotations, and just generally doesn't "get it" on defense yet. I hate to boil things down like this, but before I would even consider inserting Speights into the starting lineup, these numbers need to be much closer:

  • With Dalembert on the floor, opponents score 103.6 points per 100 possessions.
  • With Speights on the floor, opponents score 114 points per 100 possessions.
I'm not down on Speights, I just want him to earn his minutes and learn the game coming off the bench. He's playing important minutes, he's picking things up and I think playing alongside Elton Brand will really help him improve more quickly.

Overall: I'd say all of these guys have beat expectations.
Projection: More minutes for Speights, gradually. Probably less for the other two guys, provided Brand stays healthy.

Tomorrow, I'll try to peg the Sixers' record. We'll take a look at the four factors work sheet and the schedule.

Leave your thoughts in the comments, as usual.