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Going Nowhere, Fast

Small Ball coming up Small.

How are they defensively when Sam/Brand are at C/PF?

They have other issues (ignoring 3pt shooters and yet not trapping either. Defense just sort of stands around in no mans's land. But that is a minor issue next to EJ's love for all things small.

As I posted before, I hated Mo Cheeks love of small ball... but maybe he was fired for not going small enough?

Good question. I think I can find those stats, I'll take a look after lunch.

To be fair, you can sometimes use a small line-up as a change-up to get traps and steals and change the tempo of the game. But I just don't see the Sixers doing that. They seem to go small more in order to run the P.O. by having more shooters on the floor.

Going small in order to generate more jump shots is just stupid IMO.

Never thought about it that way. You are right. Mo used to go small to try & force TOs for the running game at least.

Damn

Not good w/ Sam and Brand at the 5/4. Don't have possession data, all I have is points for, points against and minutes:

270 minutes, 567 points allowed. I'm guessing that doesn't translate to a good defensive rating.

The entire team has allowed 1,829 points in 868 minutes.

Pace has a lot to do with it, you'd expect the game to be played at a slower pace with both Brand and Dalembert on the floor, but I'm not sure that's the case. Defensive stops speed up the pace, offensive rebounds slow it down greatly. Probably all evens out w/ both of those guys out there, because they're good on the offensive glass as well.

Wow, that is stunning...

I knew it was bad, but I had no idea just how bad its gotten.

I wish you could send that right to Ed Stefanski and/or Peter Luukko.

Hell, we should send a link to Kate Fagan, Tom Moore, Dei Lynam and the rest and demand that they publicly, repeatedly ask both Eddies to explain how an average to solid defensive team who subtracted a mediocre at best defensive point guard and a backup center while regaining a plus-defensive big(Brand) an barely-average defensive-big(Smith), a plus-defensive wing(Carney), a minus-def. wing(Kapono) a plus-defensive point(Jrue) can suddenly become one of the worst defensive units in the league and not have that be an absolute indictment of EJ?

That is horrid.

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JohnMagee reply to rswknight on Dec 1 at 22:31
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The sixers have one of the best stat folk in the game working for them...trust me, I'm sure they know these numbers, but I'm sure Eddie explains it away

It is really bad how far they've fallen. I agree this is bad enough to give Eddie Jordan the can. But have you seen any sign from Ed Stepanski or Ed Snider that their patience with Jordan (or Jordan/Stepanski) is wearing thin? I realize signing AI is a desperation move but isn't that more about selling tickets?

I'm profoundly disappointed by this exclusive focus on offense. Stepanski used to talk about defense a lot and wanting to be a stellar defensive team. I think you even asked him about that directly. He's changed his mind?

With the athletes on this team, this should be a top defensive team as good defense is mostly effort and discipline provided they get good coaching. Right now, it seems like the Doug Moe years when it is just try to outscore the opposition.

Don't worry, the team will figure it out and make a run for respectability at the end of the season- just like they do every year.

Or maybe I should say worry...

Doubt it. Defense was the hallmark for those runs, which fueled the running game. I don't think this team has it, thanks to EJ

Jordan might be the perfect guy to coach this team to the top of the lottery. Really, he might be the only guy qualified for that job.

If he gets us a top 3 pick there will always be a special place reserved for him. Like those old Sixer coaches of yore who netted us AI.

And Shawn Bradley, and Keith Van Horn errr Tim Thomas.

Let's run w/ the top three for a minute:

1. Wall
2. Favors

Who's #3? Evan Turner's a wing, right?

DiLeo will find the right guy if we get a top 5 pick.

Hmmn. Since Jordan will be the coach next season, who's the best shooter/worst defender in the draft. That's Jordan's guy.

Should be Wall or bust. Adding another decent player isn't enough and he projects as the only true star.

I think they can get a two guard outside of the top 3 (Willie Warren, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson (if can prove he is legit for a full season - also not sure why draft express has him listed as a SF/PF when he is clearly a SG/SF perimeter player with a nice jumper at 6-7).

Would anyone draft Aldrich to play center? Really big, had a triple double with blocks in the tourney last year. But not really a fast or super athletic big who will be running the floor like this franchise loves.

Evan Turner is Andre Iguodala part 2, drafting him would only add to the redundancy at SF/SG.

This is a PF/F draft and we really aren't in the market for that player. Wall or bust.

I'll take Adritch, please.

A big 7-ft versatile player who is physical and can block shots. Great replacement for Sam, can play next to Brand &/or Speights

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Statman on Dec 1 at 15:15
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Brian, I look at the four factors and see one other important trend. Defensive eFG is undeniably bad right now, but the fact is that the Sixers haven't "won" the eFG battle since 00-01. If we consider that those years can be divided into the "Iverson era" and the "Iguodala era," that's not surprising. The last two playoff teams that had more success than the current one won another way, by exploiting advantages in the other three factors. So I want to take a look at those other three relative to this team's style and the coach's philosophies.

First, turnover rate. The Sixers turn it over less than their opposition this year, and they've actually done that the past five years. On defense, they've always been blessed with ball hawks with quick hands, from Iverson and McKie to Iguodala and Lou. On offense, they make up for their not having a true point guard (and for Iguodala's recent turnover woes on the break) by running less risky plays in the PO. More jump shots means fewer turnovers. (This is not a net positive, and I'll elaborate below.)

In terms of rebounding rate, the last two Sixers teams outrebounded their opponents to help offset the deficit in eFG%. This year, as we all know, the preference for small lineups combined with heavy minutes for non-rebounders (Thad, Willie, Lou) has led to a rebounding deficit. Still, one would think that playing Brand, Dalembert, and Iguodala would go a long way toward correcting that, and we saw how effective it could be at rebounding in the 4th Q of the Dallas game.

That leads to the fourth factor, free throw factor (FTF), the ratio of FTA to FGA. The two most recent Sixer teams have made more FTs and taken many more FTs than the opposition (historically, the Sixers have always been strong in this: only once since 1982 have the Sixers taken fewer FTs than their opponents). This helps to offset the deficit in eFG% and the (related) deficit in 3P%. But if you look at this recent stretch of 11 losses in 13 games, the Sixers have only "won" the FTF battle twice (not coincidentally, two of the closer losses, by 1 and 2 points).

Why is this? My theory is that the "good shots" that the PO is designed to create are open jump shots. But if the mentality is to shoot the first open jumper (which is, after all, the purpose of the PO -- let's face it, the backdoor happens 1-2 times a game at most), then penetration and drawing of fouls is reduced. This might work if the Sixers' roster is filled with Nash, Ray Allen, Korver, and Bosh. But it doesn't work with what they have. I would argue that all the Sixers' main scorers (Kapono excepted) are more dangerous when they are penetrating at least as often as jump-shooting. It's definitely true for Iguodala, Lou, Willie, and Brand, and I would argue that it's also true for Thad.

Getting to the line has three advantages. First, in terms of offensive rate, even a below-average free throw shooter (say, 70%) will get 1.4 pts per possession when he gets to the line, much higher than even a 55% FG shooter (1.1 pts per possession). Second, getting to the line gives the players a chance to rest before the next defensive possession (making it that much more annoying when they don't rotate, ha ha). And third, drawing fouls increases the chances that someone on the opposition will get into foul trouble.

The Sixers have the personnel to win the FTF battle, but the offense does not emphasize drawing fouls. Surely, there is room for penetration in the PO, but the mentality seems to always be "open jump shot is best." Let's hope the Dallas game was the start of some "effective aggression" and a trend of winning FTF.

Great post. It still all boils down to going small with the goal of taking more jumpers. That statagy is bad for most teams, but really bad for the non-shooting Sixers.

Sixers: some teams get six by hittin 2 threes. The Sxiers get six by two lay-ups and going 2-4 from the line.

Yup, great point. If you remember, DiLeo actually came out and said the Sixers have to use free throw differential to cancel out the three-point deficit. That's just not going to happen if they're setting for jumpers, and that's the least of this team's problems when we talk about running offense designed to get open looks from 20+ feet.

Still, all the offensive problems are window dressing to me. Until you figure out how to stop teams, you're never going to be successful, no matter how good your offense is. Take a look at Toronto, #3 in offensive efficiency, #30 in defensive efficiency, 7-11 on the season.

So what exactly did EJ say in his 3 hr interview to make Ed believe his system was the answer for a team built around Iguodala and Brand?

My guess is that in the first minute he said, "Washington is going to pay $2M of my salary for the next two seasons." Then they spent the other 179 minutes reminiscing about their time together in New Jersey.

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Sal Tuscanito on Dec 1 at 15:41
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I know I'm three hours late to the party here, but just let me say.... HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP!!! It's well beyond inexcusable for us to be worse defensively than any of the teams you listed. Frankly, we should be top ten in the league defensively... not dead freakin' last!

By the way, I know it was only pseudo-intended, but your description of those teams was hysterical, Brian. If I wasn't so depressed, I'd be laughing my ass off.

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deepsixersuede on Dec 1 at 18:57
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Statman, great stuff; question: why the sudden push the ball and attack the basket strategy? L.Will. wouldv!e thrived with this approach and probably beats teams downcourt who have a foul line extended lead. So when he gets hurt they decide to push and attack: was this possibly a] suggestion from E.S. b]a way to compensate for our scorers being hurt.

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Statman reply to deepsixersuede on Dec 1 at 22:36
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Suede: good point, the Sixers have looked to break more in the last couple games. Against the Spurs, the Sixers are faster overall and have bothered them with team speed the last several times they've played. Against the Mavs, the Sixers controlled the defensive boards in the 2nd half, so that helped. It wouldn't surprise me that the directive to run more came from above, because that shift in philosophy turned around both the last two seasons. If they keep running, it can only help when Lou returns. (I know what Brian's thinking, though, and I totally agree: a team can fastbreak only if it gets stops!)

I was actually thinking more about penetrating in the halfcourt instead of "settling" for long jumpers. The Sixers don't have many good shooters but they have a roster full of good finishers (Iguodala, Thad, Speights, Lou, Carney, even Dalembert on lobs). The problem is that those players get into "finishing" position in the halfcourt mostly off dribble penetration, not off cuts and off-the-ball screens. (p.s. I was at Princeton for 4 years in grad school during the Pete Carril era, so I watched the original PO. In my opinion, that offense was NOT designed with athletic "finishers" in mind. Just the opposite, it's designed to maximize scoring opportunities for athletically limited but good-shooting players [a good description of Princeton's typical roster].)

p.s. I was at Princeton for 4 years in grad school during the Pete Carril era, so I watched the original PO. In my opinion, that offense was NOT designed with athletic "finishers" in mind. Just the opposite, it's designed to maximize scoring opportunities for athletically limited but good-shooting players [a good description of Princeton's typical roster].

Yep, that's how Princeton used it, to bridge the gap in athleticism between their team and the non-Ivy League teams, using their shooting ability and frankly brains to take advantage of defensive laziness.

Think about that for a second, then think about the Sixers' roster. We're running the offense with nothing but a group of raw athletes. Seriously, Kapono is probably the only guy on the team who really fits the ideal of the pure PO, and I don't even think he really moves all that well off the ball. Korver might be the ideal.

If you think back to the pro team that ran this offense the best, or some version of it, you had two pretty slow, very skilled big men in Vlade and Webber, a slow wing who could absolutely shoot the lights out in Peja, and a couple of guards who could cut to the hoop or hit open jumpers in Bibby and Doug Christie.

I'm as guilty of everyone of thinking Jordan's version of the PO could be adapted to this roster. I kind of fell for the illusion that his version was modified enough for the pro game, and it would more simple principles to get quick, good looks. It isn't, though. At least not the version we've seen. Honestly, the Sixers don't have one piece that really fits the system. You don't even need a system to get anyone on this team outside of Kapono open looks from 20 feet. Teams gladly give them to you.

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Statman reply to deepsixersuede on Dec 1 at 23:03
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Suede: good point, the Sixers have looked to break more in the last couple games. Against the Spurs, the Sixers are faster overall and have bothered them with team speed the last several times they've played. Against the Mavs, the Sixers controlled the defensive boards in the 2nd half, so that helped. It wouldn't surprise me that the directive to run more came from above, because that shift in philosophy turned around both the last two seasons. If they keep running, it can only help when Lou returns. (I know what Brian's thinking, though, and I totally agree: a team can fastbreak only if it gets stops!)

I was actually thinking more about penetrating in the halfcourt instead of "settling" for long jumpers. The Sixers don't have many good shooters but they have a roster full of good finishers (Iguodala, Thad, Speights, Lou, Carney, even Dalembert on lobs). The problem is that those players get into "finishing" position in the halfcourt mostly off dribble penetration, not off cuts and off-the-ball screens. (p.s. I was at Princeton for 4 years in grad school during the Pete Carril era, so I watched the original PO. In my opinion, that offense was NOT designed with athletic "finishers" in mind. Just the opposite, it's designed to maximize scoring opportunities for athletically limited but good-shooting players [a good description of Princeton's typical roster].)


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