by user Wtt02005
Sunday made it official. The Philadelphia 76ers were not going to make the playoffs. Throughout the season, they were being handed the 8th seed without any competition. This occurred because the team was just having a better losing record than the other teams. This is characteristic of the Atlantic Division, the worst division in today’s NBA. However, Iverson and Webber go down with a few injuries, and the Bulls realize that they are just within striking distance. To add insult to injury, the Bulls knock the 76ers out of the playoff picture because the Heat, who have the 2nd seed well intact, rest Wade and O’Neal for half the game. This ultimately leads me to one question:
What happened to that 76ers team that competed against the Lakers in 2001?
Just like Spike Lee’s opinions of the New York Knicks, it seems to be an eternity since we have heard Stephen A. Smith say anything positive about the 76ers. Is this the beginning of a doomed franchise like the Portland Trailblazers? Perhaps, it is time to rebuild, so let’s see what the future holds for the 76ers.
The bonafide leader of the team, we clearly have to start here. Iverson, 31, is right in the middle of his prime. He is showing no effects of slowing down, ranking 2nd behind Kobe Bryant for the scoring title. A.I. even has a decent point guard dimension to his game, averaging 7.4 assists this year. I definitely like this aspect of his game as I remember he used to be known for taking 40 shots to get 40 points. His field goal percentage was horrendous, so it is nice to know that he has found other ways to improve his game. Unfortunately, A.I. is not getting any younger nor is there a definitive heir. Final Judgment: Until the team finds a leader, expect the face of the franchise to still be there
Well, if Iverson is on the edge of old, then that means Webber is old. Despite finding a nice groove with the 76ers and resurfacing as a 20 points, 10 rebounds power forward, Webber, in my opinion, only has two good years remaining before he retires. Though I believe all athletes are capable of having productive years until age forty like Reggie Miller, it is going to take a lot of effort on Webber’s part. Webber always has nagging injuries, usually leg and knee problems. He really has not been the same since the microfracture knee surgery. I do not believe he will hold up, and this is a problem for a 76ers team that is not necessarily tough in the backcourt. Final Judgment: The clock is ticking for Webber. He’ll probably announce retirement before he starts jumping (or limping) from team to team.
The 76ers resigned these two this season, and they might have signed their doom in doing so. Korver is a tremendous three-point shooter…at times. He is very inconsistent and does not have a game outside of shooting. He is a very expendable player like Quentin Richardson, yet the 76ers decided to retain his services. I do not know much about life in Philadelphia, but I guess they enjoy watching his buzzer-beaters clang on the rim (if they hit the iron at all that is). I have a mixed opinion about Dalembert. He was always ranked high in fantasy basketball, yet no one ever picked him. His average of less than 10 points a game made it no mystery why. However, when my friends and I decided to do head-to-head scoring, Dalembert became a hot commodity because he was one of the leaders in the ever elusive blocks category. Coupled with his 8.0 rebounding average, I realized that Dalembert was a pretty decent defensive force for the 76ers. However, without any scoring, Dalembert is nothing more than another Stromile Swift, and what has he done for the Rockets besides holding the ball in the last eight seconds to give the Lakers fans free tacos? Though good players, the 76ers will not garner much profit from them. Final Judgment: Korver’s shooting touch will probably improve, but we’re looking at another Keith Van Horn. I do not see much growth for Dalembert.
It pains me to say this, but the highlight of his coaching career was when he helped the singer who forgot the words to the national anthem. The Trailblazers lost that playoff game to Dallas and were down 0-3 in the series, yet no one seemed to care. Everyone called Cheeks a class act. Nothing positive has been said of him recently. In his first year with the 76ers, he has underachieved. Last season, the 76ers were 8th seed. This season, they will probably finish 10th. Final Judgment: Expect management to quickly look for a replacement. They got rid of Jim O’Brien after one season, so they will not hesitate on Cheeks if a certain coach catches their eye.
One of the few bright spots for this team, this high fly act unfortunately still has years to grow. Despite a ferocious dunker, he does not appear to have any other dimensions to his game. He reminds me of Jerome James last year in the playoffs. James doubled his production in the series with the Kings which increased his stock in many GM’s minds. Many, like me, were skeptical yet the Knicks signed him, and we all quickly forgot about him. Igoudala may be making some highlight reels now, but he clearly has to develop his resume for a few more years. Final Judgment: He may be the next leader for the team, but he needs to develop alongside a group of players, or we will have another KG situation.
There really is not much depth or athleticism on the bench. Steven Hunter played well with the Suns, but clearly was expendable. Finally, Willie Green and John Salmons have consistently been denied the starting role because A.I. and Korver have always been more productive. Final Judgment: It appears that the 76ers’ fate lies in Mashburn returning to his 20 points, 6 rebounds form, but then again, he’ll be a starter, and he’s 34.
So the future looks so bleak for the 76ers that Stephen A. Smith probably will never stop yelling. The team desperately needs to rebuild, but it is going to be very difficult. Management knows that they could rebuild around A.I, but when he is rejected by the Olympic committee, they also question whether he is too old. Until they decide on a leader, expect Philly cheese steaks to be the only thing good in Philadelphia.
Tue 04/18/06, 11:25 pm EST