The Sixers are going to be good. As good as everyone is making them out to be? I’m not so sure. The real question is, which team do the Sixers want to be? Do they want to be the run and gun team that won 22 out of its final 34 games last year to get into the playoffs? Do they want to be the half-court bangers, ready to rule inside and take no prisoners? Do they want to be a slash and dash team, using Iggy’s move to SG as a new option? Mo Cheeks is a good coach, so he’ll figure it out, but at what point in the season?
I don’t think you’re going to see the Sixers demonstrate the same kind of speed they did last year down the stretch, because Elton Brand just can’t burn the court like that. That’s not his game and when you drop nearly $80 million (the “Philly Max”) on a guy, most likely, you’re going to find a way to mesh your style of play with his. With Brand, Dalembert and Young in the frontcourt, opposing teams are going to have to get ready inside, because the Sixers could win a lot of games just by dominating the boards. The minor problem is, if you are going to play tough inside, then you have to be able to sink your free throws and the Sixers don’t have a player who shoots over 80% from the line. You might see Young develop more as a player as with the addition of Brand, he is able to get out of the PF position and into the SF slot, giving him the ability to demonstrate some more of his athleticism. But once again, if you are going to be making the high flying moves, you are going to get fouled…and if you are going to get fouled, you had better be able to sink your free throws.
The one thing I’m not sure about is the move of Iggy to SG. There wasn’t really anywhere else for him to go, but the one weakness with the Sixers this season is that they aren’t going to have a real outside threat (although I suppose you could put Donyell Marshall there…but his playing time will be limited), which may leave Igoudala forced to provide it for them. Iggy is 32.9% from 3 and Andre Miller is 8.8%. Kareem Rush is supposed to be one of the answers they are looking towards, so look for him to be one of the first guys off the bench and he WILL be chucking. What kind of effect will the move have on Igoudala’s game? We’ll just have to wait and see (and we won’t have to wait long).
While there seems to be a lot of focus on the Sixers offensive end, I think they are going to do some serious damage on the defensive end. They are long and athletic and while they may not be the biggest team around, they will get tough inside if they have to. Between Dalembert and Brand, you may see a few more blocks in Philly this season and Igoudala can be a beast on D when he wants to.
How They Match Up Against the Raptors
This is a tough question, because are we talking about how the Sixers match up against the new Raptors? With last year’s Raptors, this Sixers team would probably have their way, just because I think they are going to be very strong on the boards. With the addition of O’Neal, you might see the Sixers pushed a little out of their comfort zone on the offensive end, providing more rebounding opportunities for the Raptors on the whole. Overall, the Raptors may be a little more athletic than the Sixers, but it’s really a toss up. Between the Celtics, Raptors and Sixers, the top of the Eastern division is going to be pretty interesting.