Sixers @ New York Game Preview (2/24/13)

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Here’s what Knickerbockers pants look like. Hard to imagine why the team shortened the name to just Knicks.

Philadelphia looks to earn its first win following the all-star break against the Knicks in the teams’ final meeting of the season.  In their last match-up, the lone Sixers victory of the teams’ previous three games, Jrue Holiday dropped a career-high 35 points.  Thad Young is hopeful to play tonight which would be a huge boost for a Sixers squad badly in need of a spark to break its four-game losing streak.

However, the Knicks have been on a skid of their own, also dropping their previous four outings.  The Knicks recently signed Kenyon Martin to a 10-game contract after trading Ronnie Brewer to the Thunder for a second-round draft pick.  The addition of Kenyon Martin is intended to bring defensive toughness and rebounding to the Knicks’ second unit (as well as team with JR Smith to form a dynamite neck tattoo duo).  Trading Brewer was a strange move, though, considering he was part of the most-used 5-man line-up for the Knicks this season as well as the team’s best perimeter defender.  The Knicks are hoping that with Iman Shumpert now seemingly recovered from offseason ACL surgery he can take over Brewer’s role in that capacity.

Keys to the Game:

  • Holiday has to convincingly win his match-up with Raymond Felton much as he did in the teams’ last game.  Tyson Chandler constitutes arguably the best interior defender in the league, making points from the Sixers front court very difficult to come by in this match-up.  Even more so than usual, Holiday will be the engine that drives the Sixers in any potential victory.
  • Someone up front will have to match Amare Stoudemire’s production, who has averaged 14 and 6 in his last 10 games as he settles into his role as first big man off the bench.  Hopefully, the return of Thad Young will account for that level of play.  Without his return, someone from the Lavoy Allen/Arnett Moultrie caste of Sixers big men will have to step their game up.
  • Finally, the Sixers will have to contain Knicks’ leading scorer Carmelo Anthony.  Although, he’s adjusted well this season to more of a power forward role with the team, he can still fall in love at times with inefficient long jumpers.  Philadelphia will need to do its best to prevent Melo from getting easy shots in the paint and finding his groove from the field.  Force him into outside shots and hope he doesn’t have a hot shooting performance.

Prediction: The Sixers traveling on the second game of a back-to-back continue their downward spiral in the second half of the season.  Thad Young either doesn’t play or is slowed down in his return from injury and Chandler and Stoudemire eat the soft Sixers front court alive.  Despite a solid effort from Jrue Holiday, Carmelo more than matches his production as the Knicks break their own losing streak in an easy victory.

Sixers Burned by the Heat

Miami carved up Philadelphia’s defense, scoring at least 27 points in every quarter.

I missed the beginning of last night’s game out to dinner in the city with a group of friends.  While I was gorging myself on unlimited Brazilian steak, the Heat were carving apart the Philadelphia defense on their way to a 114-90 Miami victory.  The 114 points were the second-most points allowed by the Sixers on the season even with the Heat resting their starters for the majority of the fourth quarter.  Philadelphia lost each of the four quarters as they were never able to get key stops when it mattered to try to climb back into the game.

Miami got whatever it wanted on the offensive end outscoring Philadelphia 40-26 on points in the paint, while shooting an exceptional 58.4% from the field and only committing 7 turnovers as a team.  As usual, Lebron James was the star of the show recording his third triple-double of the season with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists.  James looked like a man among boys out on the court, getting to whatever spot he desired on offense and flying around on the defensive end in snagging a game-high 9 defensive boards.  As the Miami lead grew in the second half, the crowd’s loudest cheers were on Lebron highlight-reel plays rather than any positive Sixers actions (as few and far between as those were).  Dwayne Wade’s performance should also not go unnoticed, as he tallied a game-high 33 points on 14-18 shooting.

Despite the poor defensive effort from Philadelphia, a few players actually had good games offensively.  Jrue Holiday put up 21 points on 8-11 shooting, adding 6 rebounds and 6 assists.  Nick Young and Dorell Wright were hot from long range totaling 19 and 17 points, making 3 and 5 three-point field goals, respectively.  Unfortunately, the pair management deemed better than having Josh Smith both had poor outings with Turner committing a game-high 5 turnovers and Hawes shooting 1-5 from the field while only grabbing 2 rebounds in 25 minutes.  How a seven-footer could average less than 1 rebound per quarter defies the laws of physics.

Fortunately for Sixers fans, they will not have to dwell on this loss for too long as the team takes on the Knicks tonight.  Unfortunately for Sixers fans, if Philadelphia keeps playing like this, tonight’s game will only serve as a fresh wound to their dwindling playoff hopes.

Daily Cup of City 6 (2/24/13)

City 6 Cup 2

Yesterday’s Action

Following a heart-breaking double overtime loss to Delaware Thursday night, surely Drexel had some luck coming their way from the basketball gods.  Unfortunately, the season of what-could-have-been continued for the Dragons as they lost a nailbiter 72-71.  Drexel had three chances to tie the game in the last 10 seconds but Damion Lee and and Derrick Thomas were both unable to convert before Kazembe Abif was fouled and had two shots from the line to tie the game.  Abif, a 67.4% free throw shooter on the season, only converted one of two free throws and the Dragons lost out on an opportunity to take down the number two team in the conference.

Frantz Massenat scored a game-high 24 points for Drexel going 10-12 from the line.  However, the Dragons had no answer for either Towson’s Mr. Do-Everything Jerrelle Benimon who totaled 19 points and 9 rebounds, or Jerome Hairston who recorded a season-high 20 points.

St. Joseph’s moved to .500 in Atlantic 10 play in cruising to an easy 71-59 victory over the George Washington Colonials.  The Hawks jumped out to a 20-2 lead and still found themselves up 11 at the half, not looking back from there.  Langston Galloway recorded a season-high 26 points scorching the nets from long range (6-9 3PT).  The Hawks put forth a solid effort on the glass out-rebounding GW 33-31, a team who came in 41st in the country in that category.  St. Joseph’s will next travel to Saint Louis Wednesday night to take on the first-place Billikens.

Villanova cemented another block in the foundation of its strong tournament resume, winning a close battle over nationally-ranked Marquette, 60-56.  Sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard scored a game-high 22 points on a efficient 7-10 outing from the field.  The Wildcats were able to slow down the high-powered Golden Eagles’ offense, holding them to an 86.6 offensive rating, compared to their 114.8 rating on the season.  Ball security was the name of the game as the Wildcats only committed 10 turnovers while forcing 19 giveaways from Marquette.  The win was Villanova’s third win over a ranked opponent this season and brings them within 2.5 games of first place in an extremely competitive Big East conference.

Coming off their best stretch of basketball all season, the Quakers came out last night with easily their poorest effort of the 2012-13 campaign in a 58-41 defeat.  Against a beatable Columbia team, Pennsylvania put up by far its lowest point total of the season behind a horrific 14-48 shooting performance from the field (including 1-11 from behind the arc).  Leading scorer Miles Cartwright was particularly off his game missing 9 of 10 field goal attempts.  The only encouraging note from last night’s action was a second consecutive strong performance from freshman Tony Hicks who tallied a game-high 19 points on 8-15 shooting (the only member of the team to shoot .500 or better on the evening).  The Quakers will look to get back on track Friday against Dartmouth.

Today’s Action

2:00 PM: La Salle @ Rhode Island

Following a poor outing versus Temple earlier in the week, the Explorers will look to bounce back against a scuffling Rhode Island squad.  The Rams have not made the NCAA tournament since 1999 when the candyman Lamar Odom walked around campus in Kingston and this season has proved to be another down year.  On this year’s edition of the Rams, Xavier Munford is the player to stop, averaging 17.3 ppg, though on an inefficient 38.6% from the field.  La Salle currently finds itself 2 games back of first place in Atlantic 10 conference with 4 games to play.  The Explorers ought to take care of business and stay among the conference elite.

4:00 PM: Temple @ Charlotte

The Owls travel to Charlotte after securing a one point victory against the 49ers at home earlier this month.  Khalif Wyatt had a game-high 25 points in that contest while Jake O’Brien registered a season-high 22 points.  Defensively in this match-up, Temple will look to pack the paint and stymie Charlotte’s interior scoring.  The 49ers are a terrible outside shooting team, only knocking down 26.9% of their three-pointers this season.  Additionally, Charlotte has been the luckiest team this season according to Ken Pomeroy’s basketball ratings.  After a mid-season slump, Temple has turned things around lately, winning 4 of its past 5 games.  If Temple brings the level of play it did in its dominating performance against La Salle Thursday night, it should make that streak 5 of 6.

Sixers vs. Heat Game Preview (2/23/13)

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King James comes to town Saturday night.

To be the champ…oh, let’s not kid ourselves.  Barring an act of divine interaction, Philadelphia will only be hoisting this season’s Larry O’Brien trophy in an EA sports video game.  With a small window of opportunity to make the playoffs coming out of the All-Star break, the Sixers decided they did not like the breeze in coming out flat in the loss to Minnesota.  Fortunately for Philadelphia, the 8th place Bucks lost close games to Brooklyn both Tuesday and Wednesday night and only hold a 3.5 game lead over the Sixers.  That’s where the good news ends, however.  First, Milwaukee made the biggest splash of a relatively quiet trade deadline in acquiring J.J. Redick as part of a six-player deal with Orlando.  Redick, who ranks 11th in the NBA in three-pointers made (and likely leads the league in poetry slam books), will greatly shore up an area of weakness for a team currently ranked just 21st in the NBA in 3PT% at 34.8%.  The move strengthens the Bucks for the stretch run, further reducing the odds of a Sixers comeback.

In addition to that encouraging news, the defending champion Miami Heat and the best player in the NBA and odds-on favorite for MVP, Lebron James, are coming to town Saturday night to pay the Sixers a visit.  Lebron is in the midst of a truly historic stretch of play during the month of February in which Miami has gone 9-1.  In his ten games this month, he’s averaged 30.2 ppg on 66.3% shooting, 7.6 rpg, and 6.7 apg.  The only thing James has done wrong this month is get absolutely eaten alive by Kobe in the all-star game.  Besides the extraordinary performance Lebron has put together this season, Dwayne Wade has also been phenomenal, averaging 20.9 ppg on 50.4% shooting, 4.9 rpg, and 4.8 apg.  To put these totals in perspective, only 6 players in the NBA are currently averaging at least 20 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 4.5 apg (James, Wade, Durant, Westbrook, Harden, and Bryant).  So to say the Sixers will be at a talent disadvantage in this match-up would be like saying tickets for the Jay-Z / Justin Timberlake concerts will be in-demand.

Keys to the game:

  • Not lately, but earlier in the season, Miami was prone to taking games off against lower-profile teams.  Hope that is the case in this game and bring the energy early to build a lead before Miami really tightens the screws.
  • Do everything possible to get the ball out of the hands of James and Wade, and force the Heat to win with outside shots from Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and the rest of Miami’s supporting cast.  Those players may very well hurt you but it beats the alternative of having Lebron doing Lebron things all game long.

Prediction: The Sixers will be crowned by the King as the Heat win in a rout.

Daily Cup of City 6 (2/23/13)

City 6 Cup 2

Yesterday’s Action

After trailing by four at halftime, Pennsylvania used a strong second half and efficient three-point shooting (10-19 for the game) to take down Cornell 79-71.  The victory was just the Quakers’ third road win of the year as well as their third victory in its past four games, and moved them to .500 in Ivy League play.  Freshman Tony Hicks scored a career-high 29 points, including shooting 5-6 from downtown, while Miles Cartwight had a strong all-around game with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and a season-high-tying 9 assists.

Today’s Action

12:00 pm: Drexel (11-16, 7-8 CAA) @ Towson (15-13, 10-5 CAA)

Coming off its toughest loss of the season in a double-overtime defeat at Delaware, the Dragons travel to Towson to take on a surprising Tigers team that finds itself second in the conference following a 1-31 record last season.  Much of the turnaround can be attributed to the arrival of Georgetown transfer Jerrelle Benimon, who leads the team in points (16.6), rebounds (11.3), and assists (2.6).  Benimon posted an 18-16 double-double in the teams’ first meeting January 5th, a 69-66 Towson victory.  Drexel could not hit the ocean from the beach in that game shooting 33.9% from the field and only sinking 20 of its 34 free throws (58.8%).  Keeping Benimon under wraps and duplicating the effort from the first match-up in getting to the charity stripe (and hitting some more) will be the keys to a Dragons’ victory.

4:00 pm: St. Joseph’s (14-10. 5-6 Atlantic 10) vs. George Washington (12-12, 6-5 Atlantic 10)

The Hawks are back in action tonight after a full week off facing the Colonials in the teams’ only meeting of the season.  George Washington bosts the 37th stingiest defense in the country and is a top 50 rebounding club.  Junior Isaiah Armwood is the embodiment of that rugged style leading the Colonials in points (11.9), rebounds (8.7), and blocks (2.5).  Despite its defensive acumen, the game will be a clash of tempos as GW ranks among the fastest 100 teams in terms of pace while St. Joe’s drops in at 296th.  St. Joseph’s would prefer to slow the game down and work the clock against the Colonials’ defense for good shots.  Currently tied for 10th place in the Atlantic 10, the Hawks cannot afford to drop a home game against a middle-of-the-pack conference foe if it wishes to avoid missing the Atlantic 10 tournament entirely.

6:00 pm: Villanova (17-10, 8-6 Big East) vs. Marquette (19-6, 10-3 Big East) – ESPN2

In their lone contest of the 2012-13 regular season, the immovable object will meet the unstoppable force as Villanova’s 38th-ranked defense will look to slow down Marquette’s top 20 offense.  Amongst a crowded top of the Big East standings, Villanova finds itself only 2.5 games out of first and 1.5 games back of Louisville for 4th place and the coveted double-bye in the conference tournament.  The Wildcats find themselves in that position having won 4 of their past 5 games and will look to notch another victory over a ranked opponent following big wins last month over Lousiville and Syracuse.  These wins are the type that make a team impossible for the NCAA tournament selection committee to ignore.

7:00 pm: Pennsylvania (7-18, 4-4 Ivy) @ Columbia (10-13, 2-7 Ivy)

The Quakers are back in action again tonight against the Columbia Lions (you have to admire the Ivy League actually caring about the student portion of student-athlete and having conference games played Friday and Saturday, unlike nearly everyone else caring mainly about money).  Pennsylvania already defeated Columbia earlier this month at home 62-58.  Lions’ leading scorer Brian Barbour scored 21 points in that match-up but was topped by Miles Cartwright’s 22 points including 10-10 from the foul line.  The Quakers as a team shot 26-29 from the charity stripe in that game which proved to be the difference in the outcome.  If Pennsylvania duplicates that effort in attacking the basket and Tony Hicks continues to expand his game toward the end of his freshman season, the Quakers should travel back to Philadelphia victorious.

Daily Cup of City 6 (2/22/13)

City 6 Cup 2

 

Yesterday’s Action

Check out our recap of last night’s clash between Temple and La Salle.

in the world of basketball, there are tough losses, and then there are double-overtime defeats that leave a team with an empty feeling in the pit of their stomachs.  Unfortunately for Dragons’ fans, the latter went down last night as Drexel fell to Delaware 73-71 after playing two extra frames.  Drexel had its chances to win as a Frantz Massenat jumper was blocked with 2 seconds left in regulation and Tavon Allen missed on a three-point attempt with 9 seconds left in the first overtime before the Blue Hens put the game away in double overtime.

Drexel fought back after being down 7 at halftime behind 25 points and 11 rebounds from Damion Lee in only his second double-double of the season.  The Dragons did not shoot well at all as a team, collectively going 25-72 (34.7%) from the field (and only 6-23 from downtown).  Drexel had no answer for Delaware’s Devon Saddler who collected 31 points, playing aggressively all night in getting to the line 15 times, sinking 11 free throws.   The Blue Hens’ Jamelle Hagins collected big rebound after big rebound, tallying 18 in all.  The Dragons will have to put this loss quickly out of their minds as they play at Towson at noon Saturday.

Today’s Action

7:00 PM: Pennsylvania (6-18, 3-4 Ivy) @ Cornell (13-12, 5-3 Ivy)

The Quakers come into tonight’s game having won 2 of its 3 previous games for the first time all season.  Pennsylvania will face a Cornell team it lost to by 2 earlier this month on a jumper by Cornell’s Galal Cancer with 10 seconds left.  The Quakers moved the ball around extremely well in that game, recording assists on 24 of their 28 field goals.  However, Pennsylvania did not take care of the rock committing 16 turnovers and were not aggressive in getting to the basket as the team only attempted a total of 3 free throws.  This is not your older brother’s Cornell team who reached the Sweet 16 in 2010; if the Quakers shore up a couple of those mistakes from the earlier meeting, they can come out victorious and continue their modest run of the success in conference play.

Temple Rules the Roost in Final Big 5 Game

Philly Fast Break was in the house for the final Big 5 match-up of the season.

Philly Fast Break was in the house for the final Big 5 match-up of the season.

As we approached the arena, a group of La Salle fans climbed up from the subway chanting ‘**** You Temple’ into the cold Philadelphia night.  Clearly these kids had consumed a few road sodas on the way to the game, but it still spoke to the anticipation for this important match-up and the heated rivalry between Big 5 foes.  As a matter of fact, the box office attendant informed us they were sold out for the game.  You might think it was due to dollar dog night, or the groupon offer earlier in the week, but fans from both sides knew how crucial this game was with the Big 5 title on the line and Atlantic 10 positioning at stake.

Two laps around the arena found a scalper with two tickets together at a reasonable price and we were in.  Early on in the first half, Ramon Galloway answered a Khalif Wyatt three-pointer with a long three of his own, and then turned to the Temple student section and made the three goggles signal to his forehead.  Unfortunately for Explorers’ fans, it was a lone bright spot for the team.  Throughout the game, the Owls established their dominance on the glass, taking advantage of an undersized La Salle lineup in out-rebounding the Explorers 41-24 (15 to 6 on the offensive end).  Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson was the brightest star for Temple with game-highs of 23 points and 18 rebounds, while Scootie Randall exploited smaller guards defending him as he tallied 15 points and 10 rebounds.

After falling behind by 19 in the second half, La Salle began picking up their men full court in a effort to speed up the game.  This tactic was effective as the Explorers were able to get within as close as 9 on a few occasions (before a meaningless 3 at the final buzzer cut it to 8).  However, a couple dagger threes from Wyatt, who finished with 17 points, and continued dominance from Hollis-Jefferson allowed Temple to keep La Salle at arms-length throughout in securing the victory 82-74.  The game ended Big 5 play for the season with La Salle and Temple finishing as co-champions at 3-1 each.

As with most college games, the main appeal is experiencing the passion and energy of the student body.  The Temple student section (dubbed the Cherry Crusade) used its roll-outs to spoof the Bad Luck Brian twitter account, a fake profile detailing good things that happen to Brian but ironically turn out bad.  The ‘Bad Luck Explorer’ roll-outs throughout the night were as follows:

  • Gets D1 scholarship…To La Salle football. Rollout
  • Gets homecoming ticket…to Tom Gola.
  • Thinks they are the best… asks twitter for roll-out ideas.
  • Finally on NBC… cut off for curling.
  • Goes to butler game…gets hit by “flying object”.
  • Complains about 200 tickets…Doesn’t have the entourage to fill it.
  • Thinks its their city…really our city.

However, my favorite sign was a large photo of Dwight Schrute saying “False“, which the fan held up whenever there was a call he disagreed with on the court.

Schrute

All in all, a great atmosphere tonight and a welcome reminder of the passion coinciding with the college game.  La Salle will look to bounce back Sunday at Rhode Island while Temple will look to keep things going at Charlotte.

Daily Cup of City 6 (2/21/13)

City 6 Cup 2

 

Today’s Action

7:00 PM: Drexel (11-15, 7-7 CAA) @ Delaware (14-13, 9-5 CAA) – NBC Sports Network

On January 28th, Drexel lost a heartbreaker at home to the Blue Hens, 66-64, despite Damion Lee recording a career-high 30 points.  The Dragons’ downfall was an ice-cold shooting performance from the field, shooting 34.4% (27.9% excluding Lee), compared to Delaware which shot an efficient 50.9% for the game.

Drexel will want to slow the game down in tonight’s re-match; Delaware plays at the 69th highest tempo in D-1 whereas the Dragons’ tempo comes in at 311th.  The first match-up was played at Delaware’s pace with each team recording 67 possessions.  If Drexel can conform the game to its style and shoot the ball closer to its 41.6% season average, the Dragons have a good chance to pull out a victory.  A win would bring Drexel within one game of Delaware for the 3rd seed in the conference tournament with 3 regular season games remaining.

7:00 PM: Temple (17-8, 6-5 Atlantic 10) vs. La Salle (18-6, 8-3 Atlantic 10) – CBS Sports Network

The Owls host Big 5 rivals La Salle in the teams’ only meeting of the season with a lot on the line.  Not only is every game crucial for these Philadelphia foes as both teams find themselves on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, there are also conference and Big 5 implications at stake.  La Salle currently finds itself only one game back of Saint Louis for first place in the A-10 while Temple can pull within one game of La Salle for 4th place in the conference with a victory (significant with the top 4 teams receiving a first round bye in the A-10 tournament).  However, the Owls are also presently situated only 2 games ahead of 13th-place St. Bonaventure which would drop them out of the conference tournament entirely.  Finally, a La Salle victory would clinch a Big 5 title and their first 4-0 outright Big 5 title since 1989-90, while a Temple victory would mean a shared title between the two teams.  I’ll be in attendance at tonight’s game so I’m sure to come away with key insights and a stomach full of dollar dogs.

Sixers Freeze Up in Minnesota

Without Kevin Love, 'The Godfather' came up huge for Minnesota.

Without Kevin Love, ‘The Godfather’ came up huge for Minnesota.

Evan Turner spent his all-star break on vacation in the Bahamas.  Five seconds into the game, Turner looked to still have his mind there as Andrei Kirilenko raced behind him for a lay-up off a half-court dish from Ricky Rubio.  Turner was not alone as the entire Sixers team looked to still be on vacation allowing Minnesota to race out to a 35-25 advantage after one quarter.

In that first quarter and throughout the game, Sixers fans were treated to the Nikola Pekovic show, who we learned goes by the nickname of ‘The Godfather’ in Minnesota.  After every Pekovic basket, the PA announcer chanted Nikola to the tune of the horn from the Ricola commercials while also occasionally mixing in the theme music from The Godfather.  We heard that PA horn often in the first half, with Pekovic posting a double-double by halftime with 14 points and 11 rebounds, including 5 on the offensive end.  Together with Derrick Williams, who tallied 12 points and 5 rebounds in the first 24 minutes, the Minnesota front court absolutely dominated Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen early and often.

Desperate to slow down Pekovic and Williams, Doug Collins opted to start Kwame Brown and Damian Wilkins in place of Hawes and Lavoy Allen to start the 2nd half.  You know it’s an emergency when Collins decides to break out Kwame Brown.  Ultimately, this move didn’t amount to much as the Minnesota front court still did its damage.  However, the Sixers were able to bring back the deficit to single digits when Evan Turner got hot and dropped 14 points in the third quarter.

The Sixers eventually got their defense in gear in a big way as they prevented the Timberwolves from making a single field goal over the final 11 minutes, 43 seconds of the game.  Unfortunately, the early deficit proved too big to overcome as Philadelphia could draw no closer than 4 points, ultimately falling 94-87.  It proves when you come into a game missing key players, you can’t come out slow and not play a full 48 minutes.

Pekovic’s final tally was 27 points and a career-high tying 18 rebounds.  For Philadelphia, Jrue Holiday played through foul trouble to record 16 points, 5 assists, and 5 steals, Evan Turner finished with 19 points (most of that coming in the aforementioned third quarter), and Damian Wilkins gave the Sixers good minutes off the bench with 13 points.

On a postivie note, viewers at home were treated to video of Thad Young looking spry in warm-ups earlier in the day.  Hopefully, he’s able to return sooner than later with a Sunday comeback against the Knicks being reported as the earliest possible date of return.  The thin and overmatched Sixers front court could greatly use his return.

Sixers Once Again Pass On Josh Smith

Fans won't be seeing Josh Smith in a Sixers uniform this season.

Fans won’t be seeing Josh Smith in a Sixers uniform this season.

News came out today that the Sixers reportedly declined a trade offer from the Atlanta Hawks of Josh Smith for Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes.  Sixers fans may remember the team brought the 6’9″ power forward to town during the 2008 offseason when he was a restricted free agent.  Ultimately, Josh Smith re-signed with Atlanta as Philadelphia signed free-agent Elton Brand and the rest was middle-of-the-pack history.  With the team once again opting against bringing Smith aboard, let’s examine the pros and cons of such a deal.

As a disclaimer, Spencer Hawes is far and away my least favorite player on the SIxers.  I hate how he frequently gets out-muscled by smaller players for rebounding position and his soft finishing around the rim.  The only time I ever enjoyed watching Hawes on a basketball court was when he was sporting his legendary mullet.  Evan Turner also often draws my ire, whether pulling up for his flat jump shot with 18 seconds left on the shot clock or doing his bull in a china shop routine driving the lane (which involves a head-down drive right into the defender, throwing up a wild shot, and then pouting to the ref with out-stretched arms after the whistle remains silent).  Speaking purely as a fan watching the games, I would have traded the pair for a bag of basketballs and then gave the balls to the courier as a tip.  However, during this analysis, you need to look at things from a franchise perspective and maximizing all of its assets.  How would this trade have affected the team’s prospects both short-term (the rest of this current season) and long-term (the 2013-14 season and beyond)?

Short-Term

Josh Smith is a very effective offensive player on the blocks and an absolute terror in the open court; I could get lost day-dreaming about Jrue throwing lobs to Smith on the break.  That being said, Josh Smith is a terrible fit for the Sixers in the sense that the team has a similar player already starting at power forward in Thad Young.  Both are undersized fours who make up for a lack of height with elite quickness and athleticism.  Take a look at the stats for the two players on the season:

Player MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT% 3P% Usage PER
Smith 35.7 17.4 8.6 4.1 1.2 2.2 46.0% 50.0% 35.4% 26.7% 17.21
Young 35.5 14.9 7.4 1.7 1.6 0.9 52.2% 57.0% 20.0% 19.7% 17.80

Smith dominates the ball more on offense accounting for the greater number of assists and slightly higher scoring output, while also being a more active weak-side shot blocker.  He is a much more polished post player but still has a terrible habit of taking too many long jumpers.  On the other hand, Young puts up similar numbers with a much lower usage rate and actually has a slightly higher Player Efficiency Rating thus far this season.

Unfortunately, a front line of Young and Smith would not work from a size standpoint; so while you could certainly play a small portion of the game with a big lineup of Young, Smith, and one of Bynum (if healthy)/Allen/Moultrie, the insertion of Smith would cut into Thad’s minutes (more or less a null gain based on this season’s stats).

Regarding the players the Sixers would have given up, despite his flaws, Hawes has been an average center on the season with a 15.12 PER that currently ranks 33rd among NBA centers.  With Bynum still sidelined and a hypothetical Hawes departure, Philadelphia would be forced to divide minutes at the 5 between Allen, Moultrie, and Kwame Brown.  Allen and Moultrie are really better off playing the power forward position and Brown is a $6M mistake.  Of course, a healthy Bynum would solve this problem but you could have said that about a lot of the Sixers problems this season.  In Evan Turner, the Sixers would lose another valuable rebounder but a player who continues to struggle with his shot (42.7 FG% and only 48.7% True Shooting Percentage) and ranks 37th among small forwards with only a 12.76 PER.  I would think Dorell Wright (14.07 PER) could soak up and improve upon Turner’s minutes after mysteriously falling into Doug Collins’ doghouse.

Verdict: Neutral.  Smith is a horrible fit with our roster and Philadelphia would lose valuable size and rebounding in Hawes and Turner, two attributes in short supply for the Sixers.  Ideally, seeing that Turner and Hawes have trade value, management would find a player who worked better within the confines of the current roster.  It doesn’t look like that is their mindset though based on current reports.  In hypothetical trade world, I do love to think about the athleticism and defensive potential of a Smith-Young-Bynum front court for 10-15 minutes a game; that line-up would be fun to watch.  Ultimately, the team is floundering either way if Bynum is injured so why not go with the more aesthetically pleasing option and the Josh Smith high-wire act.

Long-Term

Taking a look at the salaries of the three players reportedly involved in the offer, Turner is signed through 2013-14 for $6.7M, Hawes is under contract through 2013-14 for $6.5M, and Smith is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.  As discussed earlier, Josh Smith is not a good fit with Thad Young on the team so I would not look to re-sign him.  Shedding the Turner and Hawes contracts would leave the Sixers with $33M committed to Holiday, Young, Richardson, Brown, Allen, and Moultrie.  Next year’s salary cap is still undetermined but will likely be in the $60M to $70M range.  Philadelphia would have more than enough space to offer Bynum or another star a max contract as well as sign a couple wings at mid-level deals and fill out the bench.

Verdict: Pro-Trade.  Hawes and Turner have their uses as part of a rotation but were both overpaid in my opinion.  Freeing up cap space would be a preferable option to keeping the pair around.  However, management is likely not of that mindset considering just this past offseason, it signed Hawes to the two-year deal and picked up Turner’s option.

It looks like we’ll be watching the same-look Sixers tomorrow night in Minnesota.  In your opinion, should the Sixers have pulled the trigger?  Discuss in the comments below.