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Let the Brand Bashing Begin

I have legitimate concerns about Elton Brand at this point. I haven't seen anything which points toward him making a full recovery from his achilles injury. The shoulder isn't an issue. Last season, before the shoulder injury, I saw signs that we was rounding into form, this is why I'm still holding out hope. Through the preseason and the first game of the season, those signs haven't returned. But before we sign off the failure of the Elton Brand contract, can we let him play more than 25 minutes in a meaningful game? Apparently, Tim Povtak of Fanhouse can't, and he won't be the last to jump the gun.

It's not so much the opinion that Brand will never be the same that bothered me. Like I said, I have some doubts myself, it's simply the complete hatchet job the guy did with the post that bothered me. I'm not going to pick it apart piece by piece, but at least get your facts straight. Povtak said Brand went for 8 points and 6 boards in 31 minutes, which would equate to a pitiful 9.2 points/36 minutes and 7.0 rebounds/36 minutes. He actually only played 25, which is a tad better at 11.5 pts/36 and 8.6 reb/36. Either way, it's not enough, nor is it a large enough sample size to say anything definitive about anything.

Povtak did unintentionally bring something up that's worth discussing, however. He talked about how Eddie Jordan's offense simply didn't mesh with Elton's game. Mostly because it isn't predicated upon dumping the ball down into the post. I don't know enough about Jordan's version of the PO, or how he ran things in Washington to know if this is true or not. The one thing I can tell you, definitively, is that the first team was feeding the post very, very frequently in the first quarter against Orlando. The only problem was that they were feeding Sam Dalembert down there, rather than Elton Brand.

A couple of different people have told me there's a vast difference between the four and five positions, offensively, within the PO. The five is mainly hovers in or around the key, and the ball is fed to him at the high or low post, with players cutting off him for backdoors, open jumpers on the wing, or just to clear space for the center to work. Mainly, when the ball has been dumped down to Sam, Brand has been on the weak side of the floor setting screens or spotting up for baseline J's.

Here's my question for you: Why can't you just swap Brand and Sammy in the offense? Why can't Brand play the five, offensively and be the guy who gets the ball in the post to either work against his man or make the correct pass to whomever is open? I'm not saying you bench Sammy, I'm saying you put the superior offensive big in the crucial role on the offensive end. Run the offense through him. Sammy doesn't draw doubles. Sammy doesn't make smart decisions with the basketball. Sammy doesn't take high-percentage shots when left to his own devices. Elton Brand may not be physically what he used to be, but he doesn't need to be that guy to outperform Dalembert in this role. All he needs to be is a threat to score with the basketball in his hands, which he is, and a smart and willing passer, which I believe he would be.

If you didn't happen to blink and miss the few times they tried to get the ball to Brand in the post against Orlando, you noticed the Magic immediately sent a double to him. A double team should be death against the PO, with guys reading rotations and cutting to open areas. Frankly, that's the reason Brand was brought in. To force teams to double someone, anyone, on this offense and open things up for the rest of the guys. The Sixers don't need him to be a 20/10 guy to compete, they need him to get the ball in a situation where teams need to do something drastic to either stop him from scoring, or just to get the ball out of his hands. He provided that when he got the ball in the post against Orlando, the system simply didn't work to take advantage of the weaknesses created by the doubles. If you swap Brand and Sammy in the offense, (a) more of those situations will be created, (b) Brand will be playing a style of basketball that's more suited to his skills and (c) they won't have their $80M low-post threat standing out past the three-point line clapping his hands, begging for someone to pass him the ball.

So if you reach the point where you're ready to write Elton Brand off, you should ask yourself these two questions first: 1. Has he had enough time to get his legs under him? (at least 20-25 games, in my opinion) 2. Has Coach Jordan really tried to utilize his skillset in the PO? If you can honestly answer affirmative to both of those questions, and he still looks like a lost cause, then you may have a point.
by Brian on Oct 30 2009
Tags: Basketball | Elton Brand | Sixers |