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Twenty Games In

Six up, fourteen down. Sixty-two left to be played. Doug Collins has the Sixers overachieving, as far as I'm concerned. The only question is whether they can keep it up and whether he'll be able to figure out how to best utilize Evan Turner, before this terrible start can gain enough momentum to submarine his entire rookie campaign. Let's take a look back over the first twenty: stats, POTG leader board and individual player report cards.

Let's start off with a look at the advanced stats:

I've highlighted some positive and negative performances here for you. You could consider these key indicators. An eFG of above .500 (8/20 games), a turnover rate of less than .10 (3/20 games), a defensive-rebounding rate of greater than 80% (5/20) and maybe most importantly, an eFG allowed of less than .450 (6/20). That last number is significant, especially when viewed against the 2009-2010 Sixers. Last year, the Sixers held their opponents under .450 eFG only 10 times, the entire season.

The dreadful stat, of course, is the opponents' free throw rate (made free throw per attempted field goal). League-average is .241, last season the Sixers were at .231 for the year. This year they're at .295 and they've allowed better than .250 in 14 of 20 games, and better than .350 five times. But you probably didn't need advanced stats to figure out the Sixers foul way too much.

Through 20 games, their pace remains middle-of-the-pack, they're better than average defensively and worse offensively. The former is a surprise, the latter is not.

Player of The Game Leaderboard

  • Jrue Holiday (5)
  • Elton Brand (4)
  • Andre Iguodala (3)
  • Thaddeus Young (3)
  • Jodie Meeks (2)
  • Andres Nocioni (2)
  • Evan Turner (1)
Player Report Cards

  • Elton Brand - Exceeding expectations to the nth degree to this point. The defensive rebounding is still lacking, but he's making up for with improved defense, excellent offense and dare I say, veteran leadership?
  • Andre Iguodala - He's cut down on the jumpers to a degree and played some excellent overall games. He seems to want to fit into the role he played with Team USA this summer, which works out really well if the scoring is coming from elsewhere (like Meeks in the last game), but when someone else isn't insanely hot, more is needed from him.
  • Jrue Holiday - One night he looks like a stud, the next night he looks like a 20-year-old PG. More good than bad and his overall production is looking very nice for the second-year point man.
  • Thaddeus Young - Thad looks like his sophomore and junior seasons in the league never happened. He's back to being the player who looked like a surefire keeper in his rookie year. The only problem: Two lost years of development and the franchise's need to make a decision on him this summer for an extension. He needs to show tremendous growth over the remaining 62 to earn a decent extension, in my eyes.
  • Jodie Meeks - Maybe all he needed was an opportunity? Meeks essentially plays the role the Sixers always thought Willie Green was playing, only he's playing it effectively. Willie would get hot one night and score you 18 points on 16 shots. When Meeks gets hot, he goes for 20+ on 16 shots and doesn't kill you on the defensive end. Interested in following him the rest of the season. He's another potential free agent this summer.
  • Lou Williams - Lou started out on fire, and has since cooled to the extreme. He's shooting 35% from the floor and seems to bring the offense to a standstill every time he steps on the floor. His minutes have taken a major hit lately, as Doug Collins seems to be shifting his rotation toward defense.
  • Andres Nocioni - Started out as being a decent rotational guy, recently he's been his usual self. A drag on the team on both ends. He received a questionable DNPCD after one of his best games of the year last week, which was odd.
  • Spencer Hawes - He gets his two runs and usually hurts the team tremendously. He has strung together a couple of decent efforts recently, though.
  • Marreese Speights - Up and down season. Better defensive effort (if not results), but his offensive game seems to be regressing.
  • Tony Battie - The fact that he's our defensive stopper in the middle says much more about the team's talent level than Tony's. He's given solid minutes, especially late in games, but I'm not sure you can really count on that.
  • Jason Kapono, Darius Songaila, Craig Brackins - No need to even mention these guys.
  • Evan Turner - Decent start, then just fell off a cliff. Collins absolutely must find a way to get him comfortable, get him on the floor and squeeze production out of him. He can't have a season of failure.
And Doug Collins. There have been mistakes, obviously, but overall I think he's doing a good job with this group. Turner is really going to define his first year as the Sixers head coach. Collins has done a splendid job of fitting Thad, Brand and Jrue into roles that accentuate their strengths, he absolutely must do the same for Turner. His ultimate cross to bear is coaching to win games while still figuring out how to get his young players (especially Turner) on the right track, developmentally. To this point, he's failed twofold.