Friday, November 26, 2010. The day after Thanksgiving 2010 bears special significance to our Sixers, even if you did not realize it at the time. On that date the Sixers lost 99-90 to the Miami Heat capping off a putrid 3-13 start. That game represented rock bottom - a combined 31 wins to 74 losses over a 105 game stretch. But somehow we are once again readying ourselves for another match against the Heat and though it is to be played the day after Groundhogs day, it could not feel any more different. Since that terrible 105 game stretch of 0.295 basketball (a 24 win season pace) the Sixers have "made a right at the light" to go 54-34 (0.614, a 50 win season pace.) The question for many has been "is this team legit", but in my opinion the question should be: How?
There have been many examples of such 180 degree turnarounds from putrid to world class. Look no further than everyone's favorite site B-R for some prime examples. No not basketball-reference... Bleacher Report. (Editor's Note: In no way do I encourage anyone to click on this link. Carry on.)
You can probably skip the slideshow because you know the teams. But whether it is the 07/08 Celtics, the 89/90 and 97/98 Spurs or the 04/05 Suns or any of these 8 teams that jumped from 26 to 42 more wins in one season you have a common denominator- they added a superstar. Kidd, Bird, Kareem, Duncan, Robinson, Nash, KG/PP/Allan. The "weakest" addition was the 88/89 Suns who improved by 27 games after "only" adding All Star Tom Chambers (25 ppg) and promoting 2nd year PG KJ to the starting line-up.
So how did the Sixers suddenly morph from a team that was on a 24 win pace over 100+ games to their current 50 win pace (over the last 88 games)? There was no in between. there was no period of mediocrity (as we typically ascribe to the Sixers.) There was just the "bad" Sixers up until 11/26/10 and the very good Sixers since.
I do not want to give too much credit to Collins or too much blame on Eddie Jordan, but to some extent this is unavoidable. But beyond this simple scapegoating, why has this Sixers team pulled off such a marked turnaround without the addition of a superstar when no other team in NBA history has done before?
One more question stemming from the comments earlier. Talk about getting Dwight to Philly is starting to appear in places other than this blog. If the opportunity presents itself to make two big trades that strip the Sixers of most of their core to land Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, would you want the Sixers to do it? Meaning you give up Jrue, Turner, Iguodala and maybe Thad or Lou as well. You're left with Howard, Deron and you have to fill the pieces around them with very little cap space. Would you do it? Would you be able to invest as much time as we've invested in watching this roster grow together only to see it completely blown up right when we're starting to get a return on that investment? Vote in the poll below: