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News » Thirteen ways of looking at the 76ers

Thirteen ways of looking at the 76ers

Thirteen ways of looking at the 76ers 76ers coach Eddie Jordan has had his starting five in place since the first practice, the first day of training camp.

Although these five have been entrusted with setting the pace at the start of each game, Jordan's offensive and defensive schemes - through the preseason - have shown he will use a rotation of 10 or 11 players. Within his Princeton offense, and at the defensive end of the floor, here's a quick-hit guide to each player's strengths and weaknesses.

Lou Williams 23 Guard Williams is one of the most effective transition guards in the NBA. He's faster and quicker than last year's starting point guard Andre Miller. Williams is most effective in breaking down his defender and getting into the lane. Within the Princeton offense, he could be effective off on-ball handoffs and quick darts to the hoop. Because ballhandling duties will be split between Williams and Andre Iguodala, some of the burden of breaking pressure has been lifted.

Although Williams has the physical abilities to be a lockdown defender, he's still in the process of proving he can play 35 minutes against the NBA's top-flight point guards.

The Sixers are high on his ability to lead a team, but that still remains an unknown quantity.

Andre Iguodala 9 Guard-forward Iguodala has repeatedly been pegged by Jordan this preseason as the team's "best player" and "on the cusp" of superstardom. Iguodala fits well within the Princeton offense because he's a smart guy who understands spacing. He reads back doors well, but at times appears to force passes within the offense. Jordan said these turnovers were a preseason phenomenon because Iguodala was merely testing what might work come regular season.

He's great at starting the break and seems faster with the ball than without.

The question mark with Iguodala is his jump shot and consistency. This season will be the one in which he can quiet those criticisms.

Thaddeus Young 21 Forward Young plays instinctually more than anything else. Because there will be so much focus on running the offense, Young is liable to get lost at the start of the season, getting his points as he did his rookie season and much of last year: by grabbing offensive boards, and finishing in transition.

Young should get some open outside shots within the Princeton.

The Sixers need him to be a better defensive rebounder and handle the ball more smoothly in traffic.

Young is coming off an outstanding sophomore season, but Jordan said this season would test him since defenses will pay more attention to where he is on the floor.

Elton Brand 42 Forward Brand has acknowledged that he isn't 100 percent healthy. A 10-year veteran coming off two season-ending injuries, Brand must prove he isn't already on the downward slope of his distinguished career. The Princeton offense is different from anything he's run in the NBA because he isn't allowed to wait on the low block for his touches.

Brand struggled in the preseason with both finding his space within the offense and with the touch on his jumper. Among the starters, he finished the preseason ahead of only Samuel Dalembert in scoring average at 9.5 points a game. Brand should help on the defensive boards, but remains a question mark in how he can blend with an otherwise speedy, agile squad.

Samuel Dalembert 1 Center Dalembert has actually passed well out of the Princeton's center spot. He seems to have embraced Jordan's offensive philosophy, this after being outwardly disgruntled last season. Although he's getting more shots in this new half-court look, his primary effectiveness still comes running the floor in transition and blocking as many shots as he can.

Dalembert's main issue will be playing within himself in the Princeton. He's proven himself capable of making decent reads, but he shouldn't be the team's playmaker.

Jordan has said he'll try letting Dalembert play even after he collects two early fouls, so be ready to see Dalembert play through foul trouble more than in seasons past.

Marreese Speights 16 Forward Speights likely will be the first big man off the bench, spelling both Brand and Dalembert. Right now, Speights has no problem scoring points. His outside jump shot is smooth and he can score with either hand on the block. He's fallen in love with the outside shot, and the Sixers would probably like to see more of him on the block.

Speights might take over Williams' role of providing instant offense off the bench.

Within the Princeton Offense, Speights appears to be struggling in grasping how he can help get open shots for others. At times it appears his best option is to shoot rather than continuing to run the offense.

If he puts up big rebounding numbers and finds a way to add to the Princeton as opposed to only taking from it, he'll play big-time minutes.

Jason Smith 14 Forward Smith has looked stronger than expected in returning from last season's torn anterior cruciate ligament. With all that downtime, Smith has vastly improved his touch from the perimeter and should be a legitimate three-point shooting threat.

Smith seems to be one of the Sixers naturally understanding the Princeton. He easily reads defenses. Smith should get decent minutes in the frontcourt, especially because he's extended his range and that will bring his big-man defender away from the rim.

Willie Green 33 Guard Green is now playing the steady veteran role in the Sixers' backcourt. Jordan seems content knowing Green can come into a game and play aggressive defense and provide a steady hand running the offense.

Jason Kapono 72 Forward Kapono is a smart offensive player whose role on this team - clearly - is to spread the floor and make three-pointers. He understands the new schemes, and in the preseason Jordan has used him probably in a similar capacity to what we'll see in the regular season: 18.4 minutes a game.

Kapono isn't a strong on-ball defender, but his ability to open lanes neutralizes the defensive sacrifice.

Rodney Carney 25 Forward Carney's spot in this rotation is unclear because he missed all but one preseason game with a strained left hamstring.

He will definitely add to the team's run-and-gun mentality as he's a superior athlete. Carney should also provide another possible threat from the perimeter.

Royal Ivey 12 Guard Ivey will see a similar role as he did last year: playing feisty defense and mistake-free Basketball.

Ivey appears to grasp the Princeton and makes the right passes and cuts. Jordan said in the preseason he "loves" the way Ivey embraces his role and does exactly what's asked of him.

Primoz Brezec 7 Center Brezec was used in a limited capacity even during the preseason, playing in 6 of 8 games and averaging 8.2 minutes. Jordan seems to have confidence with Brezec on the offensive end, knowing he'll play without a turnover, but not necessarily that he'll score.

Right now, it appears Brezec's role will be as insurance, much in the vein of last season's backup center, Theo Ratliff.

Jrue Holiday 11 Guard Holiday can make some jaw-dropping plays with the Basketball, but he has yet to understand how to finish. He's a capable shooter from outside and a strong, fundamentally sound defender.

If Jordan uses him in the season's early stages, it will be because of his effort on defense. Still, it could be a while before he sees steady minutes.

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 28, 2009


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