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The Slide Continues

Inconsistency is not this team's problem. Their big men are consistently soft. Their starting small forward is consistently overmatched and petulant. Their offense consistently depends on one guy to do everything, and everyone else to take low percentage shots. This team built a dominant defense around an extreme strength last season. This year, that strength is a glaring weakness...consistently.

There's a simple solution to this team's problems. Go back in time, let Spencer Hawes walk. Don't sign Kwame Brown and Nick Young. Take that $15.3M and spend it on guys who actually know how to defend at the NBA level...or are able to get the free throw line...or can dribble the ball up the floor and initiate offense. Instead of spending the money on this cadre of proven losers, use it wisely. Add some pieces who actually make your team better. Get an athletic wing. A guy who can defend. The Knicks signed Ronnie Brewer for $1M and change. At that price, he'd step in and probably be the Sixers second-best defender.

This team's problems didn't start in late November, they started in early July when Doug Collins (and really, this is completely on Doug. Thorn was shoved out. DiLeo is taking orders from Collins) took a look at his roster and decided he had to bring Hawes back. Then, for whatever misguided reason, he thought Kwame Brown would be an adequate replacement for Elton Brand. Then he thought Nick Young was good enough, consistent enough, to replace Lou's production off the bench (for an extra $2M this season). Had Collins asked anyone else for counsel, they hopefully would've told him that $15.3M for those three guys...those three guys in conjunction with the rest of this incomplete roster, were ludicrous expenditures.

These were all crazy signings that happened way too early and essentially locked them into this terrible roster, a roster made even more ridiculous when the team traded for Bynum. Now what they have is a roster still built around that elite perimeter defender, only he's not there anymore. They have these terrible bigs running around like a chicken with their head cut off and then a group of wings who can't guard their own men, let alone help out their helpless bigs down low like they were able to do last season with Iguodala defending on the wing. I suppose the hope is that when Bynum plays, they won't have to provide so much help to the bigs, and maybe, just maybe, the big man in the middle will make up for some percentage of their mistakes on the perimeter (of which there are dozens, every game).

The problem right now is one part Bynum's absence, and one part Collins' incongruous offseason roster manipulation. On the one hand, he said "This team has reached its ceiling." On the other hand, his early moves followed the exact same mold. We need a "skilled" big man to play away from the hoop, defense be damned. We'll rely on the perimeter to mask the bigs' defensive deficiencies. We'll get rid of Brand and bring in a guy who can provide similar qualities on the defensive end. We'll get rid of Lou and bring in another gunner who will carry the offense for brief stretches. If he truly believed the team had hit its ceiling, he wouldn't have tried to completely recreate it to the tune of 15.3 million wasted dollars. He would've looked to upgrade, or address a weakness or two instead of just shuffling deck chairs.

The roster looked better once Bynum was acquired, but really, it was only Bynum's presence that made a difference. Prior to the Bynum trade (which I'm convinced was a happy accident, not a planned direction) Collins spent all that money, amnestied Elton Brand and managed to upgrade one position. He turned Jodie Meeks into Dorell Wright. That's it, and I'm not really sure that's a tremendous upgrade.

Really, when you look back at it, Collins has gotten more out of this roster than he should've expected. No one knew Jrue was going to perform this well when given this much responsibility. If he hadn't. If he was plugging along at the same clip he played his first three years, this team might have 5 wins right now instead of 16.

Turner's desperate reach for mediocrity is painful to watch. His defense ranges from lazy to simply overmatched, but he isn't the reason they're as bad as they are right now. Collins wasn't counting on him for anything more than he provided last season until the Bynum deal fell in his lap. I'm not laying this team's failures at Turner's feet, he is what he is. Collins made his bed, now he has to lie in it. Whether or not his team has tuned him out doesn't really matter. He hasn't failed them as a coach in my opinion. He's failed them as the architect of this team. The only remaining unanswered question is whether Bynum's dominance is enough to hide all the other flaws. Right now, I have my doubts.
by Brian on Jan 16 2013
Tags: Basketball | New Orleans Hornets | Sixers |