Aug 12, 2010

Philadelphia 76ers 2010-11 Preview: Small Forward

"He [Iguodala] can be very tough and he can bring a toughness to this team. To me, if he's an all-league defender at that three spot, that means we're going to be able to get out and run and that's what we do best" -Head Coach Doug Collins

(Philadelphia, PA)- This week has turned out to be a very active time for the Philadelphia 76ers. Today the team announced the hiring of Rod Thorn as the teams new president and from reports Sixers forward Andre Iguodala will be invited as a member of the 2010 USA National Basketball Team.

With these announcement as the release of the teams 2010-11 schedule the Sixers season will be here before we know it. As I stated in the Center and Power Forward previews the Sixers will have multiple options at every position when the season begins, and that statement is no truer then at the small forward position.

If you look at almost every line-up in the NBA you will see an influx of players that are classified as either SF or a G/F combo. We have also seen in recent years the statements of the new point-forward position that has evolved in the NBA with players such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant. When it comes to the Philadelphia 76ers that have at least four players that can claim that designation.

For the last six years Andre Iguodala has evolved into the go-to small forward in the Sixers organizaiton. He is a versatile offensive threat, and if reports from the USA Basketball camp are true, will be an improved defensive threat this season. Iguodala's 6'6 207 frame is perfect for a full-court offense, which is what new coach Doug Collins will attempt to implement.

Last season under Eddie Jordan we saw Iguodala playing, on most occasions, at the shooting guard position. He spent the season under producing (17.1 ppg) and showed signs of frustration with the teams offensive strategy.

Doug Collins made a point to clairfy his feelings on Iguodala's 2009-10 season in his opening press conference.

"I thought when Andre was a two and Thaddeus was a three, they were both out of position. When Andre is a three and Thaddeus a four, that team won 40 games." - Doug Collins

Beyond Andre Iguodala the Sixers have four other options in their small forward depth chart:
  1. Andre Iguodala, 6'6 207lbs.
  2. Evan Turner, 6'7 205lbs.
  3. Andres Nocioni, 6'7 225lbs.
  4. Jason Kapono, 6'8 215lbs.
  5. Thaddeus Young, 6'8 220lbs.
Additions: Evan Turner (Draft), Andres Nocioni (Trade)

When you look at this list two things stick out and before I get brutalized by readers I want to clarify.
Yes I know I just stated that Thaddeus Young was out of position at the three. I agree with head coach Doug Collins but just like everything in basketball, at times, players will fill in different spots depending on their opponent.

With the way the team is setting up Thad will get most of his playing time at the four. He will most likley platoon with Elton Brand and, depending on the opponent, with Marreese Speights.

When the Sixers face off against teams that don't have strong distinction at the center position (Phoenix, OKC) then Thad will have a chance to play at the four. He will match up well with some of the leagues other PF's within those matchups and he could be very successful.

I can see Young playing at the three, mostly in a bench role, when they play teams with the larger PF's (think Boston, LA or Houston). Hi ability off the dribble and shooting the 15-footer will fit in best at the three when they face the larger teams in the league.

The second thing I think I need to address is the fact that I put Evan Turner on this same list.
Turner is an interesting choice at the SF. I understand that he mostly played at the point in college but with his size (6'7 205lbs) he could see time at the three when they are playing those same smaller lineups. As you will see in my shooting guard preview I feel that Turner will evolve into the teams starting SG but I think it is important to state that, at times, he could become an asset at the SF.

With the Turner and Young situations set that leaves us two more players to address.

Jason Kapono was brought to Philadelphia to shoot three-pointers. Last season we rarely saw Kapono and he was so far down on Eddie Jordan's bench that he was wearing binoculars. I expect Kapono to see more playing time, mostly in a bench role, and depending on the life that is left in his shot could really help the Sixers offense.

The Sixers ranked 22nd in the NBA in three-point shooting and have remained in the bottom of that category for the last three seasons.

Andres Nocioni can, and i feel will, be a major contributor to the Sixers 2010-11 season. His career 10ppg and just over five rebounds a night will be a solid contribution from the Sixers bench.

Nocioni was one of the pieces to the trade the sent Samuel Dalembert to the Sacramento Kings and returned Nocioni and center Spencer Hawes to Philadelphia. Nocioni is entering his seventh season in the league and averaged 13.4 points a game in his 4 1/2 seasons with the Chicago Bulls.

Nocioni has spent the summer preparing to represent his home country of Argentina in the 2010 FIBA Championship. He was injured last weeks with a sprained left ankle. The injury does not seem sever and from all reports will be reading for not only the tournaments, that begins on August 28th, bust also the opening to the Sixers season.

When it comes to the season both Kapono and Nocioni will be used in certain situations as role players. Unless something tragic happens for the teams both should average somewhere between 10-15 minutes a game.

With the Sixers heading into the season with a possible five-man rotation at the small forward position things seem in the up-and-up. On opening night we will see the familiar face of Andre Iguodala starting and with an increased roster of developing players (Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner) and his summer worth of work with the USA National Team we should see an improved season from Iguodala.

Here is a list of the possible starting small forwards Iguodala will be facing in the Atlantic Division:

Boston: Paul Pierce, 6'7 235lbs.
New Jersey: Terrence Williams, 6'6 220lbs.
Toronto: Reggie Evans, 6'8 225lbs.
New York: Danilo Gallinari, 6'10 225lbs.

This is part three of a seven-part Sixers season preview. Stay up to date with all the Sixers season news on my blog Eternal Mulligan or follow me on Twitter.

2010-11 Sixers Previews:

  1. Schedule
  2. Center
  3. Power Forward
  4. Small Forward
  5. Shooting Guard
  6. Point Guard
  7. Starting Rotations (TBA)

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