It's undeniable the Sixers have played better in their past five losses than they did in the previous eight. Three of the losses were by a total of only six points. They've showed much better effort, clawed back against better teams on the road. You'd think they were headed in the right direction, even if the wins weren't coming, right? Well, you'd be dead wrong.
Here's a look at the advanced stats, and there's only one column I want you to look at, DFR (it's the team's defensive efficiency rating, or the number of points the Sixers allow per 100 possessions):
Even as they've hung in games, somewhat, the Sixers have played basically the worst defense in the league, and it's only getting worse. The New York Knicks are a better defensive team than the Sixers. Don't let the total points scored fool you, yes they held Washington and San Antonio under 100 points, but both games were played at a slow pace, their defensive efficiency, which is the true measure of team performance, was pitiful in both games.
Here's a quick look at teams who are better on defense than the Sixers
- Golden State Warriors - Starting Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry in the back court. Andris Biedrins has missed all but four games. A coach who could care less about defense. Mikki Moore plays 17.3 minutes per game at the five, grabbing 6.5 rebounds/36 minutes. Better than the Sixers.
- Phoenix Suns - Steve Nash couldn't guard me on the perimeter. Amare Stoudemire is possibly the least interested defender in the league. Grant Hill is 75 years old. Better than the Sixers.
- Minnesota Timberwolves - Undersized at the point. Al Jefferson couldn't guard a chair. Fat and slow at the four (and I'm not even talking about Kevin Love who has missed the entire season) 2-15 record under a rookie coach. Better than the Sixers.
- Sacramento Kings - Beno Udrih is their starting point guard, Spencer Hawes is their starting center. Better than the Sixers.
- New York Knicks - Do I even have to list the reasons why this is completely embarrassing? Danillo Gallinari has played almost 500 minutes at the three, they have no shot blocking, absolutely none. Their only big makes Jason Smith look like Dwight Howard. Better than the Sixers.
- Detroit Pistons - Once a proud defensive team, they've been without Prince on the wing for all but three games, they play Charlie Villaneuva for 38+ minutes/game. Will Bynum and Ben Gordon, both undersized guards, play 65 minutes combined. Unlike the teams listed above, they do have Ben Wallace, who was once a defensive force. Now he averages 11.7 boards and 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes (Dalembert averages 11 and 2.9). Better than the Sixers.
- New Jersey Nets - For a large portion of the season they dressed fewer than 10 guys per game. Rafer Alston has played 550+ minutes at the point. Better than the Sixers.
Isn't this enough damning evidence to send Eddie Jordan packing right now? The Sixers have the personnel to be a very, very good defensive team. Look at the roster, compare it to the other rosters in the league. At the very least, they should be a passable defensive team, just having a premier wing defender like Iguodala should make you one of the better defensive teams in the league, let alone two guys who block 2+ shots/36 minutes. But here we sit, only Memphis, New Orleans and Toronto are worse. For the record, the Sixers had the #14 defense in the league last season, so while some of the problems (3-point defense) have been here for a while, they've never, ever shown any hint of being anywhere near this bad. They haven't been this bad since 1995.
J.E. Skeets and Tas Melas spent a good chunk of time on The Basketball Jones today talking about the Sixers. Worth a watch.