Feb 272011
doug collins and thad young

Doug Collins and Thad Young

By Justin Adkins:

So the NBA trade deadline came and went and the Sixers did nothing, making no moves while some long time rivals changed drastically.

The Knicks moved what seemed like their entire roster for Carmelo Anthony, and the Celtics aggressively subtracted a key piece in big man Kendrick Perkins to add what they must see as an even better piece in forward Jeff Green.  Even the normally afterthought New Jersey Nets made a big splash by unloading a Titanic-sized boat load of players, picks, and cash for star point guard Deron Williams.

Through all that, the Sixers seemingly didn’t blink, standing pat with a roster that first produced a 3-13 record, only to follow up with a fantastic turnaround, going 26-16 to climb all the back to .500.  That incredible record reversal is due in large part to the chemistry created by old/new coach Doug Collins as well as the hard work of the players, including regular trade rumor target Andre Iguodala.

Iguodala has really improved under Collins, and while he may never be the super-superstar he wants to be (or thinks he is), his play and elbowing leadership suit this developing team well right now.  Why move him when it would be practically impossible to replace what he contributes right now?  Because that’s what would have happened.  Maybe some people in the recent past, even earlier this season, would have been happy to take on an expiring contract to be rid of Iguodala.  But with the Sixers playing the way they are right now, making a move like that would be akin to throwing in the towel on the season just as things are finally starting to turn around.  For a fan base desperate for any sign that it’s OK to jump back on board now is not the time to quit and only look towards an uncertain future. 

Another reason for the Sixers turnaround is the play of  rookie Evan Turner, who has gone from wide-eyed and utterly ineffective to at least a more steady presence on the floor, flashing signs of what made him the number two pick in the draft.  His continued development is really the key to the rest of this season and many seasons to come.

Collins has also gotten more from his bench, with Lou Williams playing over his head at times (hopefully trying to justify that 5-year extension) and Thad Young finally contributing after languishing under that buffoon Eddie Jordan.  Even the overpaid wannabe superstar Elton Brand is playing some decent basketball.

Of course, the Sixers are still far from a championship-caliber team.  They need their own players to continue to develop, but even if they do the team still lacks for overall talent.  Really, what they need is a dominant big man, but those types are more rare than a Sixers win over a top team.  Oh wait, what just happened versus San Antonio, arguably the NBA’s best team?  And as another sign that the Sixers are finding their way is how they played immediately following that awesome upset.  Generally-accepted logic held that the Sixers would come up small against the Timberwolves, a terrible team; however, the Sixers dominated, not letting the Spurs victory go to their heads.  That’s progress, folks.

Could the Sixers really have worked a trade for a difference-making big man?  And if so, what kind of team would they have left around this proverbial giant?  Sometimes the best trade is the one not made.

That type of vision starts at the top, with the men who had enough backbone (and who didn’t let pressure force them into making ill-conceived decisions to correct past non-moves) to stay the course with their fledgling club — general manager Ed Stefanski and team president Rod Thorn.  So give them credit for not panicking.  Nnot that long ago another floundering Philly sports team brought in someone known for standing pat.  In fact, he even carried that tag as a nickname. 

“Stand Pat” Gillick only went on to assemble the World Bleeping Champions. 

And that’s not a bad goal to strive towards for this young Sixers team. 

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