As you all know, I'm not a huge fan of John Hollinger's. Well, you can forget everything I've said about him in the past. The guy is obviously a genius. Check out his take on the Brand acquisition here
While I don't like Hollinger's obsessive use of PER as the be-all-end-all, at least he got the starting lineup right. On SportsCenter, ESPN was listing this as the Sixers' starting lineup heading into the season:
PG: Andre Miller
SG: Willie Green
SF: Andre Iguodala
PF: Elton Brand
C: Samuel Dalembert
This is lunacy. Hollinger hit the nail on the head:
Even without Brand, Philly had rebounded impressively enough from a 5-13 start to take the Pistons to six tough games in the first round of the playoffs this spring. And Philly did this with two gaping, open sores on their roster: power forward and shooting guard.
Brand, obviously, fills the power forward slot quite nicely and gives the Sixers the half-court, low-post threat they so obviously needed. Philadelphia's primary option there last season was Reggie Evans, a warrior and a gamer whose low skill level is reflected in his stats: a pedestrian 11.05 player efficiency rating, just 9.0 points per 40 minutes and 43.8 percent shooting. The Sixers also used Thaddeus Young, a teenaged rookie who is going to be unbelievably good but was undersized for the 4 spot at 6-foot-8, 220 pounds, and another, much less impressive rookie in Jason Smith.
Now they can replace Evans and Smith with Brand, move Young back to his natural small forward spot, and plug Evans into the backup big man role that he was meant to play. Plus, moving Young to small forward means moving Andre Iguodala to shooting guard, which takes care of the other problem in the Sixers' starting lineup.
Willie Green moves to the bench and soaks up the minutes vacated by the trade of Rodney Carney, Louis Williams stays in his sixth-man Microwave role behind Andre Miller at the point, and everybody lives happily ever after.
To all Sixers' fans out there who are lamenting the signing of Elton Brand over Josh Smith, I hear you. But don't feel too down. If Thaddeus Young continues to blossom as I believe he will, he's going to be every bit the player Smith is now, and more. His offensive game will be far superior to Smith's and his defense, while not as flashy, will be more effective. He's on his way to being an absolute lock-down defender on the wing.
Everything that was great about this team at the end of the season is still great. They have youth and athleticism on the wings. They have a defensive-minded center. They have a veteran point guard who can get the ball where it needs to be and score it himself when he needs to. And now they have a bonafide threat in the low post.
As Hollinger said, with this move, Philadelphia has become a destination where veteran shooters will come for the veteran's minimum to compete deep into the playoffs.
Today was a great day...so long as Brand's "verbal agreement" turns into a "written and signed agreement."