Oct 11, 2010

Philadelphia 76ers: Is Their Lack of Defense a Cause For Preseason Panic?

There is a common trend in the NBA about the weight fans and writers should put into the NBA Summer League and preseason performance. Most teams spend their summer league teaching young talents and spend most of the preseason working out their kinks, but the Philadelphia 76ers are already showing signs that the 2010-11 season may not live up to expectations.

With their offseason moves and the evolution of their young talent, a march towards the playoffs is what many writers felt was in their future.

Somewhere around 43-48 wins and a seven or eight seed seems like an expectation that the new look 76ers can achieve, but as someone (and probably one of the only) who pays attention to the NBA preseason, the Philadelphia 76ers may be showing signs that 2010-11 could be longer, and worse than their 27-55 record of last season.

As of Oct. 10, the 76ers are 0-3 in preseason action, including two losses to the New Jersey Nets. The team is averaging only 83 points a game and have yet to have a player finish with a double-double.

They have showed weakness on the defensive end ranking towards the bottom of the league in field goal shooting and defensive rebounds.

I know what you're saying, THE NBA PRESEASON DOES NOT MATTER, and for that you are correct, but consider this. Out of the 30 teams in the NBA, the Sixers will have the youngest back court in the league. The duo of Evan Turner (SG) and Jrue Holiday (PG) ranked with the youngest and least experienced players in the NBA.

Normally these players aren't the first who come to mind when you think about defense, that issue is usually designated for players like Elton Brand, Marreese Speight or Andre Iguodala but when both of these players are going to be crucial in a transition offense their lacks of steals and forced turnovers in the preseason get me a little worried.

Out of the mid and low post players (Brand, Iguodala, Speights), none has averaged over six rebounds a game and are the biggest part of fact that the 76ers are being out-rebounded by over 10 a game, and opposing teams are averaging over 55 percent on second-chance points.

Once again, you may reiterate that the preseason does not matter and that the summer league and preseason are meant to develop new talents and tinker with lineups. For those of you who think this you should also understand that the 76ers expected opening-night starters (Holiday, Turner, Iguodala, Speights and Brand) have all started and played substantial time in the preseason already.

It's also interesting to understand that out of their 0-3 record, two of those losses came at the hands of the NBA's worst franchise in 2009-10, the New Jersey Nets.

The main reason for their preseason qualms is, as I stated, their lack of defense. Now we all knew the team had issues last season on the defensive end, and since the departure of Samuel Dalemebert, who is now a member of the Sacramento Kings, the Sixers defense have actually gotten worse.

Before you crucify me, understand that I was the first person excited to show Sammy D the door but right now that move may have come at a cost that was way beyond money...

For those of you who didn't like Sammy D, you have to agree that man did get rebounds, he stayed in the post and grabbed boards... He was a terrible shooter, but, to his defense, he was never meant to be a scorer, and now with the crop of starters the Sixers will deal with this year (Speights and Brand), neither of them has shown much potential or explosion on the defensive end.

Speights is more of a shooter and has a good handle on the ball. His quality comes within 10 feet and his ability for the small hook shot, a trait that causes him to leave the direct low post and allow opposing defenders in the lane.

For Brand it is and will always be the same story. Ever since he came to Philadelphia, he has never lived up to the hype he had in L.A. He will never be the 20-and-10 guy we were guaranteed, and. beyond the fact that he said he spent the summer getting into shape, none of that has been seen in the last three games.

Now the real question is should you panic? And the answer is no. It still is the preseason and with new defensive-minded coach Doug Collins the defense will get better. But for those of you who are hoping the Sixers make opening night against the new look Miami a competitive night, you are very far off from that.

Here's to hoping things get better in the next 17 days...

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