Wednesday, December 24, 2008

NBA Draft talk

This is a very weak draft imo (which means literally nothing because like in any draft it is a complete crapshoot). There are only two players that are bonafied superstars imo and they are Ricky Rubio and Blake Griffin. Rubio has Derrick Rose potential, and Griffin is a clone of Karl Malone. Both are 1 and 2 and are interchangeable. That much is a given.

Now the 5 based on Sixer needs.

I've had the pleasure of watching Jordan Hill from Arizona multiple times and the talk of him being the most improved player in college is absolutely spot on. Hill made his mark as a Cdeib favorite as just a premiere defensive big man out of the Pac 10. Not anymore. Hill has developed the post skills and touch inside the paint needed to be a top tier big man prospect. After watching several of his games, I have come out with my jaw dropping. Everyone may think 'we already have Brand and Speights blah blah blah'. But the disapointment that the Sixers are, you can't pass up on talent, which is exactly what the Sixers lack.

James Harden might be the best basketball player in this draft. As a medium sized SG, Harden is a finesse type guard that uses his body and fundamentals to fill up the stat sheet. Harden has all the ability to take over in the college level, but I'm not that positive that it will translate to the NBA level. A lot of Harden's points come from inside the paint, and even though Harden has an excellent jumpshot, it's not any where near the level it needs to be (yet). Still, all things considered, Harden is THE top player on the Sixers big board. Harden would be a perfect fit on the Sixers run and gun type of offense. When I think of Harden I think of Mardy Collins with higher offensive skills.

Al Farouq Aminu is the best player in college you haven't heard of. With a Hakim Warrick-esque body and higher developed offensive and defensive skills (just a freshman), there is no doubt in my mind that Aminu will be a top ten pick in this draft. While Hakim Warrick has difficulty translating to the NBA as a wingman, Aminu fits in perfectly with a better handle and better overall skill set. While I understand that Aminu is a SF and we already have Thad and Iggy, there is no chance the Sixers can pass up on this talent. Aminu may have the most potential out of any player in this draft.

Stephen Curry might not be a popular player to select in the lottery. What is the biggest weakness on the Sixers? Everyone will tell you a lack of a shooter. While Curry might not be a pure starter in the NBA, a lot of people said the same thing about Ben Gordon when he was drafted. While undersized, Stephen Curry has shown IMMENSE improvement in his point guard skills. I know I may end up eating my words, but Stephen Curry might be the best NBA ready player in this draft (even above Blake Griffin). Curry is exactly what he is, a gunner with the ability to take a team on his shoulders. Isn't that what we need? I'm in love with this kid. I think he is exactly what we need, which is why I have him as number two on my Sixers big board.

Brandon Jennings.... I don't really know much about this guy because I haven't seen him play. The truth is he was the top high school prospect in America and he has apparently played well in Europe so far, which is a surprise imo. There is no doubt that Jennings will be jumping to the NBA, and that Andre Miller will be traded or leave to another team by the end of this season. Jennings is a point guard prospect with super athleticism. That's all I can really tell you about him until I see him play more. Based on what I've read and heard about him, he is worth taking a waiver.

The best of the rest: (in order of Sixer need)

Darren Collison
Jrue Holiday
Demar Derozan
Patrick Patterson
Dejuan Blair
Hasheem Thabeet
Gani Lawal


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sixers lack chemistry and consistency, but one HELL of a win last night!!!

The Sixers cannot continue to be this inconsistent on both ends of the floor. Iguodala should never have the ball in his hands unless he is attacking the rim or on the fastbreak, period. Ever since the playoffs last season his shot selection has gone from bad to being a nightmare. In fact, that is a major problem for this team. When the Sixers were losing in the first half, it wasn't like the Sixers were just missing shots. The Sixers took terrible shot after terrible shot, did not push the tempo and gave up waaaaaay too many easy points in the paint. That IS something to worry about since our interior defense is suppose to be the biggest strength on this team. Samuel Dalembert is completely lost out there. We knew he had transition issues before but now, without a role on offense, he is playing like his head got cut off. SOMETHING must be done about the chemistry between Andre Miller and Elton Brand. If I see Miller pass to Brand just inside the 3 point line one more time I will freak out. Brand must be given the ball closer to the hoop and until then we will continue to be this inconsistent. I was hoping for more out of Kareem Rush last night. When they entered the game at the same time last night it reminded me of fellow Zona alums Iguodala and Richard Jefferson played each other for the first time. Rush didn't have a big game, but I would have liked to see Rush get more than one shot from the field last night. LouWill's shooting has been below average lately since the first game of the season, which is largely responsible due to Willie Green's emergence. I have no problem with LouWill and Willay splitting the backup guard position based on who is hot and who is not. Our back court players are getting a lot of wide open looks so far this season and this is a huge complement to Elton Brand.

Bottomline, the POTENTIAL is definitely there. The question is when will they put it all together? We do have a good chance to get something going here with the weak schedule, but I am simply not confident in this team due to zero chemistry all around. Mo Cheeks has zero control over this team. In the first half I saw Sixer players running up and down the court on a regular basis, turnover after turnover and zero plays being run on offense. They wait WAY too long to get a shot off, and throwing it up with 2 seconds left on the shot clock will not help your field goal percentage. Even worse, the shots they get off are horrendous. When the chemistry gets there, this team will be tough, but until then, this is exactly what we're gonna see: inconsistency, predictability on offense, and bad shooting.

Some Early Observaions in College Basketball

Dejuan Blair- 17 poins 13 rebounds. Other than Griffin Blair is the best NBA PF prospect in the draft. Him and Lance Fields are one of the best duos in the country.

Hasheem Thabeet- 23 points 17 rebounds 5 blocks. I wrote this guy off a couple of years ago, but after seeing Roy Hibbert show some life in the NBA, I'm starting to warm up to this kid. Obviously there is no possible way a team like Western Carolina could stop a 7'3 big man, but Thabeet is quietly becoming the best player in the best conference in college basketball.

Damion Jones had a quiet night with 13 points and 7 rebounds for Texas. Same with Connor Atchley, one of the best role players in college bball.

Blake Griffin had a typical night with 24 points and 18 rebounds. The most telling prospect for college big man, imo, is field goal percentage and Griffin was no slouch going 9-11 from the field. Griffin is far and away the best prospect big man in college.

James Harden had 24 points and 10 assists. This is the best SG prospect in the draft, bar none, and a lock for the lottery.

Jerel Mcneal is one of the most underrated prospects in the draft in my opinion. He had 20 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds last night. Mcneal is one of the best defensive guards in college and should be a solid second round pick for anyone.

Nick Calethes had 16 points and 7 assists. Of all the prospects in college this kid has flown the most under the radar. We'll see how he plays, but I think he has lottery pick potential.
My BOY Stephen Curry had 29 POINTS, 9 STEALS, and 10 ASSISTS. Curry is no doubt one of the best scorers in the league, but this season he is smartly transfering his skills to the point guard positin which benefit him in the draft. He'll always been seen as an undersized guard, and could be a college wonder that never could hack it in the NBA, but if he shows some kind of point guard skills this season I would not be surprised to see someone take a gamble on him in the lottery.

Al Farouq Aminu had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. Aminu is the best freshman in the country in my opinion. After watching him numerous times in high school, there is no one in college with his athleticism, talent, size and wing span. Aminu is the best player you never heard of, and he is a lock as a top 3 pick.

Ok night for Scottie Reynolds with 13 points and 6 assists. Villanova has crazy depth at guard, and I'd like to see Scottie work his best on his point guard skills this season. He was a standout freshman because of his playmaking skills, but had a somewhat dissapointing sophomore season because he tried to score too much. Stokes and Fisher are one year older, and Reynolds must spread the ball as much as possible if he wants to be looked at as one of the top point guards in the country.

Disapointing night for Patrick Patterson who only played 27 minutes for 8 points and 7 rebounds in the loss to Virginia Military. Patterson is an undersized big man that gets by with his athleticism and wingspan, but I'm a little worried that he is not a game changer. He is injury prone and must make Kentucky a contender in a weak SEC. Jodie Meeks had 39 points last night. His average ppg has been 8 so I'm not sure where this offensive explosion came from. I'll be watching him for sure.

Dionte Christmas had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists in a good win for my Temple Owls. Christmas is one of the most fluid scorers in college and is a likely late first round pick when he declares. Underrated big man Lavoy Allen had 14 points and 15 rebounds and could fly under the radar. Allen was a key component to Temple's tourny run last season as a freshman, and should evolve as one of the best big man in the A10 very soon.

Ahmad Nivins had an excellent night with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Nivins is the best player on St. Joes, and I cannot wait to see Christmas and Nivins go at it this season.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Things that must improve for the 76ers

Still frustrated after last night...

Off the top of my head:

Andre Miller is NOT running the show and cannot get Brand the ball in the paint where he is most effective, Mo Cheeks is having terrible difficulty finding a rotation that can find any sort of rhythm, Thad NEEDS more plays for him on offense as he is clearly our best offensive player right now, Iguodala cannot do anything right, his jump shot looks worse than last year and the offense must not be run through him anymore, Dalembert has zero chemistry with Brand in the paint and is still trying to do way too much on offense, Speights needs to play more, Louis Williams is our second best offensive player and could give Miller the boot (I think he's a better option at PG right now than Miller).....

Games like last night make me think about Miller's effectiveness with this team. Last year Miller was excellent at controlling the tempo of the game and getting others involved. This year he simply cannot do that. I don't know if it is Mo Cheek's substitutions, the new players, the lack of chemistry or due just to poor performance. When the Sixers get eaten alive by a guy like Mario Chalmers, who no disrespect is a decent player and one of my favs from Kansas, you have to wonder something is very wrong here. All in all I place the blame of last night's perfomance on the Andres. They simply must play better.

I think what we will see is a change in offense from Mo Cheeks. The offense is not working because Iguodala is expected to do too much and honestly, his handle is so poor that you cannot give him the ball and expect him to make a play for himself or others. THADDEUS is our best player right now and should take over his Iggy's role of getting others involved. Will that happen? Doubt it. We have to remember that it's only the 5th game and chemistry issues are to be expected. But last night's performance was unacceptable and frankly pathetic. I don't think I've ever seen a team so out of sinc since Iverson was here.

As for Mo Cheeks, it is clear that he has not instructed what he needs our players to do.

Samuel Dalembert CANNOT continue to put the ball on the floor after getting a offensive rebound a foot from the hoop and CANNOT continue to take jump shots.

Elton Brand CANNOT continue to take jump shots from the perimeter. Our rebounding has been good, but our offense will never flow until he is given the ball inside the paint on a consistent basis. Lets be clear, there have been MINIMAL plays running off of Brand on offense and Mo has to do a better job of that.

Thaddeus Young CANNOT continue to be our best option on offense in the first half, only to be completely dismissed in the second. Thad has leap frogged Iggy and has risen as our second best offensive player behind Elton Brand. More plays must be designed around Thad.

Andre Iguodala CANNOT continue with his dismal shot selection. He is trying to be Dwayne Wade and is far from it. A HUGE part of Iggy's ineffectiveness is a result of our lack of a transition offense and defense. The Sixers are creating turnovers therefore not getting any opportunities to run, which was Iggy's strength last season. When that happens his performance will increase, but his little step back jump shots just inside the 3 point line are making me go insane. Iggy's role should be limited to fast break points, put backs, getting to the free throw line and running off screens and pick and rolls. That's it.

Andre Miller CANNOT continue to turnover the ball. He is our leader and our entire offense. Last year he had a career year, so expectations might be a little high this season. He must learn how to get others involved fast, or our rising superstar Louis Williams might take his job sooner than we have imagined.

Overall Mo, Iggy, and Miller need to step up there game. No more half court offenses, run run run run run. Get Iggy in the game by pushing the tempo. Get Brand the ball in the paint and not at the free the line. Run some damn plays for Thaddeus Young in the second half. Tell Dalembert to stay in the paint and if he doesn't he will get b^tch slapped. Get Speights big time minutes. Get Reggie Evans the hell out of Philadelphia.

And that's the bottomline.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sixers' Preseason Opener Game Review

Sixers vs. Celtics game review 10/08/2008

First preseason game

Theo Ratliff- Still has excellent shot blocking ability and runs the floor much better than I thought he would. Missed an easy dunk when it looked like his knee went out underneath him. Got posterized against Kansas State disappointment Bill Walker on a broken play. If he doesn’t perform Speights could very well take his minutes, very fast. Grade C minus.

Louis Williams- Showed excellent handling and defense on the perimeter. Was looking for teammates in the first half, but showed that he is still the Sixers best offensive player. Next to Thad, LouWill looks very, very good. Came in as PG for Andre Miller. Pure stroke from 3 and showed excellent confidence with zero hesitation at the end of the third quarter. Made a circus shot in the fourth where he appeared to be blocked but threw the ball up just as he touched the ground and banked in the shot. Looked like Iverson on a cross over drive when he got fouled and made both free throws. Made multiple steals in the fourth quarter that were huge turn arounds to the game. Looked dominant at times. Found an open Speights after driving from the right, very Iverson-esque. Made two crucial free throws late in the game with 20 seconds left to give the Sixers a 3 point lead. The “start Louis Williams bandwagon” has officially begun. Grade A plus.

Andre Miller- Looked lazy on offense in the first half. Made an excellent transition pass to Thad. Looked good on a drive in the second half, which is his game. Grade Incomplete. Not sure what I really saw from him.

Andre Iguodala- Looked extremely passive in the first half. Made a bone head lob to Sammy when he could have just drove to the hoop for an easy lay up. Has no idea where to get Elton Brand the ball in the paint and looked very uncomfortable together. Finally showed a good touch from 3 when he had an open look. Looks to be taking command of the ball more on the transition. Jump shot reminds me of last year, inconsistent. Found Brand down low on a nice drive and dish to the hoop, Brand got fouled and made the free throw. This is key to the season. Really picked up his game in the second half. Grade C.

Thaddeus Young- Our best player in the first half. Showed incredible smarts and defense on the perimeter. Outside shot looks 100 percent improved with excellent fundamentals. Stroke looks extremely smooth and fluid. Made an excellent step back jump shot to start the second half. Looks twice the player he was last year. Can’t say it enough, his jump shot looks soooo much improved, another huge key to the 08-09 season. Made an excellent steal and finished with a silky smooth layup using his left hand on the break. Made an unbelievable play while double teamed under the hoop and made the basket. Played almost 40 minutes. Grade A.

Elton Brand- Looks a bit slow in the first half. Got blocked several times due to elevation, but he was never a high riser in the first place. Looked ok in the first half, not worried. Looked very bad when he got pick pocketed from Rajon Rondo. First step looks very slow. Shows excellent snap and finish on his free throws. Rimmed out a turn around jump shot that looked like it could have gone in 9 times out of 10. Was charged for an offensive foul on a BS play where Leon Powe deserved an Oscar. Grade B minus.

Royal Ivey- Trying to make his mark on the offensive end but failed miserably. Shot selection was bad in the first half. Plays and looks a lot bigger than his listed size. Could be a solid defender but looked very sloppy on both sides of the ball. Made his first basket of the game with a minute left to give the Sixers the lead, talk about ironic.Grade D. Saved himself from an F after making a key basket with less than a minute left.

Samuel Dalembert- Looked ok in the first half. Showed nice touch on a pull up j on transition. Good boxing out skills. Boston is running an offense similar to a street game so Dalembert really does not have a role tonight. Grade C.

Marreese Speights- Looked excellent in the first half. The kind of player you build around. He is always around the ball. He is definitely an NBA player. Shows excellent hands around the hoop and is an excellent finisher. Showed an excellent block on the weakside that was picked up by a Celtic for an easy lay up. Showed excellent help defense for Reggie Evans and caused a poor shot for the Celtics. Broke up an alley oop using his athleticism and long wing span. Made a huge steal with a minute left and looked horrible on a missed lay up. Was always around the ball late in the game though. Grade B minus.

Willie Green- Started out fast in the first half and did his role which is to score. First guard off the bench for Mo Cheeks in the second half. Airballed a wide open mid range jump shot. Louis Williams and Willie Green are now light years apart on offense. Grade C minus.

Kareem Rush- Didn’t even hear or see his name. Grade N/A

Reggie Evans- Looked like an absolute scrub in the first half with 3 fouls and giving the team no fire. First big off the bench. Looks very slow, much slower than last season. Traveled while trying to make a move on offense. Offensive game is scary similar to lsat year. Foul machine. Only good play was when he screamed for the ball when the refs gave it to the Celtics and won it back. Was attacked on defense countless times. Missed a wide open lay up with no one in front of him with 2 minutes letft. We’re gonna miss Jason Smith. Out muscled Leon Powe for a crucial rebound after a Celtic miss with 22 seconds lefts. Grade D plus.

First half- Very sloppy at times. Outside shooting looked to be solid but ironically our inside game was very poor. We didn’t seem to be into the game, maybe since Boston could not miss from outside. Announcers were extremely, extremely annoying and said nothing about the Sixers at any point in the game. I found it funny how the one Boston commentator said that Bill Walker was going to make the roster because he made a dunk lol. Boston simply made shot after shot in the first quarter. Every time the Sixers got it close the Celtics put it away with long range shots.

C minus

Second half- Thaddeus Young looks like he is playing 1 on 5 with the starters. No chemistry seen with our starters. Young is every where on the court from running in transition to fighting for offensive boards. Every time the Sixers cut it close the Celtics put it away again with a ton of mini runs on offense. A completely different team in the third quarter with hustle and pushing the tempo. Iguodala played a lot better but still shows an out of control type of offense with shot selection and bone headed passes. Brand got more involved in the third and took control. Defense really stepped up, both on the inside and perimeter. Elton Brand lost position to Leon Powe in the paint and gave up an easy lay up. Evans absolutely looked like the worst player on the court. Similar to the first half, LouWill and Thaddeus Young are the two best Sixer players on the court. They look much improved from last year, on defense and offense. LouWill dominated on offense for the Sixers once the fourth quarter began. Announcers continue to be horrendous when they say Gabe Pruit was playing good defense on LouWill when Williams was dominating on offense in the fourth lol. Disgraceful. LouWill and Thaddeus Young were simply every where on the court in the second half and looked like man among boys. Scalabrine…what a joke. Does the Irish mafia pay the Celtics to keep this guy on the roster? Speaking of a joke, those UMASS fans are horribly annoying after calling Reggie Evans an asshole for a legal rebound with 20 seconds left. Louis Williams and Thaddeus Young carried us the entire second half.

Grade B plus.

Player of the game: Louis Williams

Friday, August 29, 2008

Men's College Basketball Top 13 and Sleepers

My Preseason Men’s College Basketball Top 13

1. Pittsburgh- The deepest, best team in the country. I don’t see how any team in the nation will be able to match up against DeJuan Blair this season. Blair was an absolute beast as a freshman last season, and this season I have him and Hansbrough going toe to toe for the top team in the country. While Hansbrough may get all the votes, Blair, without question, will own Tyler in the paint. Blair is a man’s man in the post and other than Blake Griffin is the top college player in the nation in my opinion. Add in a healthy Levance Fields and solid big man Sam Young and you got one heck of a physical team.

2. UNC- This is easily the most talented group of kids in the nation, led by top college player Tyler Hasbrough, this is a make or break season for the Tar Heels. In other words, it will be a massive failure for North Carolina not to win the national championship. Ty Lawson, although I am not a firm believer of this guy, is one of the top college point guards in college. Although he has skills, Lawson is simply too small and doesn’t display enough point guards skills to make it in the NBA, but in college he is a big time play maker and the spark of UNC with his speed and defense. Philly guard Wayne Ellington is ready to explode and become a regular household name in college basketball. Simply put, if UNC wants to cut down the net this year, it is up to Wayne Ellington. He needs to show more than his silky smooth shooting and become a reliable, impact scorer. Either way, this team is a lock for the Elite Eight. Look out for freshman Ed Harris to round out a weaker PF spot on the tar heels.

3. Gonzaga- I like this roster so much I could have easily put them ahead of UNC. Although elite prospect Austin Daye was a massive disaster last season, I expect him to have a stellar season for the Bulldogs. This might be the best starting lineup in college basketball. A healthy Josh Heytvelt, one of the top power forwards in college, will only make this team better. PG Jeremy Pargo is a very underrated leader, and Matt Bouldon and Micah Downs are very, very strong players to make a very, very effective back court. This team will be on easy street all the way to the tournament with such a strong lineup, which could be a bad thing come tourney time as they will not face difficult competition.

4. Michigan State- Raymour Morgan is one of the best players in the country, bar none. Similar to Pitt, this team doesn’t have many top prospects but are very deep with solid guys all the way around. Add in Tom Izzo who is the best coach in college basketball and Michigan State is a lock for the Elite Eight. Look out for top power forward, freshman prospect Delvin Roe who just adds even more talent to an already extremely deep Spartan roster.

5. UCLA- I simply cannot go against tradition. Every year this team simply recruits and performs. Although the Bruins lost Kevin Love to the lottery, they add in another elite prospect guard in Jrue Holiday and top center, freshman prospect J’Mison Morgan. Don’t forget about the top college point guard in the country in Darren Collison, and the Bruins are primed and ready for another tournament run. Youngest, best team in the country? Without a doubt.

6. Texas- This team really surprised me last season. Gary Johnson and especially Connor Atchley showed up to be very solid players last season. Top player Damion Jones makes this Texas team a top 13 team, and AJ Abrams is no slack. Although they lost DJ Augustin to the draft last year, this is another deep Texas team that is deep and solid all the way around.

7. Tennessee- Always an underrated squad, the Vols look to build upon last season with a run to the national championship. The SEC is in for another low season in basketball imo, and Tennessee is the best out of the bunch. JP Morgan and Tyler Smith lead the way for the Vols, while Wayne Chism is no slouch in the paint. Look out for top SF prospect Scotty Hopson to make an instant impact for Tennessee.

8. Oklahoma- Although I think Oklahoma is a bit overrated and playing in a poor conference this year, you can’t put away the team that has the best player in the country. Blake Griffin is a man among boys in college basketball, and should continue to show the same kind of dominance he showed as a true freshman last season. They’re not very deep, but elite freshman shooting guard Willie Warren hopes to make the Sooners an early powerhouse in 2008.

9. Duke- I always believe Duke is one of the most overrated teams in the country. Although they have a budding superstar in Kyle Singler, I don’t think this season will be any different. Greg Paulus is what he is, a decent college point guard who doesn’t do anything great. Philly boy Gerald Henderson has been in Wayne Ellington’s shadow his whole career and better put up more of a fight or this is going to be a long season for the Blue Devils. I have always thought that the ACC has been overrated, and this year is no different, so it will be the Tar Heel/Blue Devil show once again on ESPN. Look out for elite SG prospect Elliott Williams to round out a solid backcourt for the Blue Devils.

10. Arizona State- 2008 Player of the year candidate James Harden was the surprise freshman of the year last season. James Harden is a tall, smooth scorer that can finish, run, jump and score at any point on the court. Harden should put up staggering numbers this season. After last season’s dominance, it is a bit of a down year for the PAC 10 and the Sun Devils should coast into the tournament. Jeff Pendergraph looks to continue his success this season as the second scorer.

11. Notre Dame- Luke Harangody, the country boy who came out of no where last season, but I have a feeling this Notre Dame team is a bit overrated this season. Plus being in the top conference in the country doesn’t help the Fighting Irish. Although they’ll surely make the tournament, I see difficult times for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

12. Villanova- The one team I can see sky rocketing up the charts are the Villanova Wildcats. Although they aren’t nearly as good as Pitt, the Nova backcourt is as good as any in college basketball. Playmaker Scottie Reynolds is one of the most electrifying guards in the country, but needs to work on his shot selection as he had difficulty with his field goal percentage last season. Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes are very good, young guards who should lead Nova into the tournament.

13. Syracuse- I have feeling that Jonny Flynn is going to take the world by storm. Jonny Flynn is more than a dynamic scoring point guard and Paul Harris is the do it all type of forward that should be on a powerhouse team.

Top Sleepers

Al-Farouq Aminu- top freshman in the country imo
Marquette- another year for McNeal and James could be huge
Georgetown- if Greg Monroe puts it together Gtown could make some noise in the Big East

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Extensive Sixers 2008 Season Preview


Andre Miller- Has to show- Mid range game

Andre Miller was easily the best player on the Sixers last season. Statistically, Andre Miller did not blow anyone away, but his leadership, getting others involved and control the offense was a pleasant surprise for Sixers fans that haven’t seen a true point guard play at an elite level in years. The Sixers made the 2007 playoffs with one of the least talented rosters in the NBA, a direct reflection upon Miller’s true ability to make those around him improve significant areas of their game. What Andre Miller must show this season is to continue to show the ability to hit the mid range jump shot at, again, a high frequency. With Brand and Iguodala spreading the court, Miller will gain the opportunity to receive much more, wide open jump shots around the perimeter. With defenses likely crowding the paint, our strength, to force the Sixers to shoot from the perimeter, our weakness, Miller must show efficiency in the mid range game on a team that lacks shooters.

Likely 2008 NBA Stats: 13-14 points, 8-8.5 assists, 3-4 rebounds

Royal Ivey- Has to show- Perimeter Defense/Ball Handling

Lets be honest…Royal Ivey was not brought here for his offense, we all know that. Royal Ivey’s main role for the Sixers will be to provide ball handling and defense to allow an emerging star guard, Louis Williams, to play his natural position and allow him to do what he does best: to put the ball in the hoop. Ivey is in a very good situation here. Although, not much will be asked of the young guard in this spot, but Ivey has real potential to surprise fans with his scoring ability. While not the most talented, Ivey does have skills to put it in the hoop. I have a strong feeling that Ivey, with his energy and defense, will become an instant fan favorite among Sixer fans. With a strongly defined role, Royal Ivey could really thrive in this position on the Sixers as a 3rd or 4th guard off the bench to provide hustle and defense.

Likely 2008 NBA Stats: 6 points, 3 assists

Andre Iguodala- Has to show- Range on his Jumpshot/Scoring

Andre Iguodala can’t even justify his own, overpaid contract, which literally makes him an upper echelon player in the NBA. Despite continuing to show improvements in all facets of his game, Iguodala is an above average player getting paid like a star. While his stats put him right up there as a top 30 or 40 player in the NBA, for a player that doesn’t do anything ‘great,’ that contract is pretty hefty. There is no doubt that this contract came from the Elton Brand signing, which quickly represented the Sixers’ willingness to go for a championship within the next 4 to 5 years. What Andre Iguodala must show this season, unless he wants to be a quick target from Philly fans, is that he is not just a run and gun scorer. Iguodala is being paid like a top scorer, and must display improvements in his ability to shoot with range and efficiency. If Iguodala develops a consistent mid range jump shot with range out to the 3 spot, Iguodala will certainly justify such a contract. The Sixers were, however, in no position to lose a player of his caliber. All things aside, it is good to have Iggy back in the fold. With Elton Brand giving the Sixers a true post presence, Iggy will have all the opportunities in the world to become a premiere scorer. With wider lanes, less double teams and less pressure, Iguodala is in prime position to make the All Star team this year, which his contract basically suggests he will be, but we all know that is all dependent on wins and losses.

Likely 2008 NBA Stats- 20 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals

Louis Williams- Has to show- Point Guard Instincts

There is no doubt, at all, that the biggest key to the Sixers’ season revolves around a budding star in Louis Williams. With Andre Miller continuing to stress that he will not stay in Philadelphia after this season, all eyes will be on the incumbent Louis Williams. Is LouWill a combo guard or a natural shooting guard? Will Louis Williams performance force the Sixers’ front office to trade Andre Miller? After receiving a very fair contract extension, we will certainly find out where Louis Williams stands in his development. Regardless, Louis Williams is the first player coming off a very good bench and a premiere candidate for sixth man of the year. Williams is primed and ready to jump into the spot light as a house hold name in the NBA. While Williams showed an improved handle and ability to find the open man last season, Williams still has ways to go until he becomes the starting point guard for the Sixers, especially with Iggy getting a large contract to be the SG and an emerging star at SF with Thaddeus Young. Despite the challenges to being a point guard, Louis Williams is a natural born scorer and an integral part to a Sixer playoff run.

Likely 2008 NBA Stats- 14-16 points, 5 assists, 1 steal

Willie Green- Has to show- Consistency

Every offseason Sixer fans demand to see consistency from Willie Green. A good scorer from the perimeter, Willie Green has shown flashes of being a solid starting NBA two guard. Unfortunitely, those streaks of brilliance are far and away thrown off by long patches of inconsistency and poor defense. Willie Green has potential to be an excellent option off the bench, it is a shame, however, that a player like Willie Green cannot possibly succeed in such a role. Willie Green is a rhythm player, therefore needing more touches to get in the rhythm of the game and thus be effective in the offense. With such a deep bench and the additions of Ivey and Rush, Willie Green is on the way out looking in at this point.

Likely 2008 NBA Stats- 2-3 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound


Thaddeus Young- Has to show- Mid range game

Everyone couldn’t have been more impressed with the rook that took the world by storm once inserted into the starting lineup. Thaddeus Young was a huge factor in the second half surge that took the Sixers to the playoffs in 2007. With his elite defense, ability to finish around the hoop, run the court and play to his strengths, Thaddeus Young put up averages of 12 and 7 as a starter and looks to build upon those numbers in 2008. What was most impressive for such a young rookie last year was Thad’s ability to play the game to the best of his strengths, which was using his athleticism and wingspan to crash the rim, scoring off putbacks and in transition and playing defense on the perimeter. Although he showed a natural ability to hit big shots from the key, Thad’s biggest area of improvement must be his mid range shooting. As Thad moves from power forward to his natural position at small forward, he must continue to do all the things that allowed him adjust well to the challenges of the NBA. Thad is the key to the 2008 season, as it is his progress and development that’ll make the Sixers a playoff team to a championship team. How long will that be? I don’t know about you, but I’ll put my money on Thad.

Likely 2008 NBA Stats: 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block

Kareem Rush- Has to show- 3 point shooting

Another one of Ed’s FA signings, Kareem Rush was brought here for one reason, to shoot the three. Similar to Ivey, and with a smooth stroke, Rush is in another excellent position to thrive on a team that needs shooting. Kareem Rush will idol Kyle Korver’s role on the Sixers a year prior, providing a spark with his long range jay and a steal every now and then. Rush is in a great position because of the player in front of him. Although Thaddeus Young showed excellent strides last season, no one is quite positive as to how many minutes Young will ever put forth for an entire season. Enter Kareem Rush, Thad’s lone back up who could get more minutes than any other back up on the bench other than Louis Williams. Rush is another player on the bench that could become an instant fan favorite with Philly fans.

Likely 2008 NBA Stats: 6-7 points

Elton Brand- Has to show- Durability

The Sixers finally obtained their superstar in Elton Brand, a defensive minded power forward who is arguably a top 15 player in the NBA. Last season the Sixers went as far as their post play took them. Without a legit post threat, the Sixers were in a large hole every game as opposing teams used their lack of a post presence to their advantage. Although starting Thaddeus Young at the 4 spot helped with their fast break, when it came to the playoffs where the half court offense is almost required, the Sixers did their best to manage with Reggie Evans. Elton Brand gives the Sixers a legit threat in the paint that will command double teams and open up the entire game plan for the Sixers. With so many athletic wingmen and a pass first point guard, the addition of Elton Brand should lead an offense that is aggressive and physical to say the least. The only area Elton Brand needs to improve upon is durability, and to earn the contract he received. As Elton Brand goes, so do the Sixers.

Likely 2008 NBA Stats: 19-20 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, 4 assists

Marreese Speights- Has to show- Hustle

Lets be frank… Despite how good Speights looked in the Summer League, he will receive ample playing time this season due to being the back up of Elton Brand. Speights’ playing time will most likely come during garbage and/or the latter parts of the season when Brand will need more time off to get ready for the playoffs. Still, one cannot simply ignore the skills displayed last Summer. Speights showed incredible athleticism, an incredibly smooth mid range jumper, the ability to finish with both hand and excellent ability to rebound and block shots from the weakside. In other words, Speights has all the tools in the world to succeed in the NBA along with excellent frame, size and wingspan. Due to receiving ample playing time, Marreese Speights must show the effort and hustle he displayed in the Summer League. Why? Due to the depth of our front court, Speight’s role will be to hold on his in the paint and play defense.

Likely 2008 NBA Stats: 4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block

Reggie Evans- Has to show- Leadership

In my opinion, Reggie Evans can be saved until the playoffs. He is an absolute lock to make this roster due to the youth on the roster, and his physical play, combined with the fundamentals of Elton Brand, has a great chance of rubbing off on Marreese Speights on how to play the game (which is huge). I’ll admit, I was against bringing Reggie Evans in for Steven Hunter…. But shit was I wrong… Reggie Evans, with the way the Sixers play, is the life and soul of this team. His leadership is an absolute must for our roster because he symbolizes how the Sixers should play. With the Sixers size advantage, athleticism, defense and rebounding, Reggie Evans should show our youngsters a thing or two about the life of the NBA. Evans, ironically, almost single handedly carried us in the playoffs against Detroit, and he is a perfect bench player to have on any team trying to make a run in the playoffs.

Likely 2008 NBA Stats: 3 points, 2 rebounds


Samuel Dalembert- Has to show- Role

Last year WAY too much was being asked of Samuel Dalembert… to the point where the Sixers turned him into a jump shooting big man that stayed clear of the paint. Not happening this year. With Elton Brand commanding double teams, Samuel Dalembert should be primed and ready to catch any kind of lob or pass headed his way for an open bucket. What I want to see out of Samuel Dalembert is a more defined role for the offense and defense. Instead of staying outside on offense, Dalembert should focus on centering around the paint and looking for the lob or dish around the hoop, period. On defense, where he should shine, Dalembert should, like on offense, stay in the paint and simply look to rebound and block shots. Dalembert should have a huge year defensively for the Sixers, and this should be his primary concern. No more long bombs from the perimeter. Dalembert should get plenty of looks from a slashing Iggy, double teamed Elton Brand or on the fast break.

Likely 2008 NBA Stats: 9-10 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks

Theo Ratliff- Has to show- Energy

Theo Ratliff has been brought back to do one thing, provide energy off the bench and spell Samuel Dalembert in case of foul trouble. Not much is expected of Ratliff, but one thing is for sure, he was a fan favorite in Philadelphia and should get a ton of rousing applauses from the fans. In fact, I would be shocked if he doesn’t get a standing ovation each time he runs onto the court this season. People say he’s oft-injured and he certainly is, but he definitely looked pretty good albeit horrible front court last year in the playoffs when he played for Detroit. If he gives us half of what he gave us in 2000-2001, our front court should simply be nasty, and not fall off a bit when Sammy D takes a few minutes off to relax on the bench.

Likely 2008 NBA Stats: 3 points, 4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks

In total that is about 102 points per game, exactly where I expect the offense to be around this season.

In summary, the Sixers have excellent wingmen, a top 10 point guard in my opinion, one of the best front courts in the NBA as well as one of the best benches in the entire NBA.

Wins 56.