The Last Sixers Regime: Who’s To Blame?

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Jrue Holiday (top left), Andre Iguodala (top right), Evan Turner (middle), Thaddeus Young (bottom left) and Louis Williams.

Over the last few seasons the Sixers have seen a number of building block players leave the organization. All of them were players drafted by the team and all were players that played a role on the roster in playoff appearances and during dismal times.

Those particular individuals were Andre Iguodala, Louis Williams, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. The next individual to join this group may very well be Thaddeus Young.

These were the bright spot players. This was the group of names that were supposed to lead the Sixers past the Allen Iverson era and into a bright future.

Each player represents a failed attempt at that task. But, was it the players who failed. or, was it the Sixers organization that failed this group of players?

It was the 2004 NBA Draft. The Sixers were selecting at ninth overall. As the case throughout most of the 2000’s, the team had less than stellar perimeter play beside from the contributions of Iverson, and at this time the shooting of Kyle Korver. The team selected Arizona wingman, Andre Iguodala.

Allen Iverson with Andre Iguodala. (credit: deadspin.com)

Allen Iverson with Andre Iguodala. (credit: deadspin.com)

Iguodala came in known for his high-flying aerial displays and ability to use his athleticism to play above average defense. The rookie delivered on both fronts and averaged nine points per contest, a fair amount considering that he was playing alongside Iverson and Chris Webber.

It was fair to say that as a rookie, Iguodala contributed nicely to a team that made the playoffs.

2005-06 was a little different. The Sixers were worse. They were no longer a playoff team. Iverson and Webber no longer had the juice to lead a team to any serious winning. However, Iguodala improved. His points per game rose slightly as did his rebounds, assists and shooting percentage.

That season also saw the addition of a rookie named Louis Williams who seldom saw the court, but to spell Iverson toward the end of the long season. The 19 year-old rookie played in just 30 games that season.

The next year began in turmoil. The team dumped Iverson after just 15 games and Webber after 18. Those moves meant thrusting the keys to the car to Iguodala.

Was it fair? It is the nature of professional sports, but take this into consideration. Iguodala had never been packaged as the second coming of Iverson. He was an athletic wing added to a team with two ‘stars’ and he flourished in that role, growing each of his first two seasons.

Iguodala continued his steady growth and raised his point per game total once again. He did so also while adjusting to not having a defensive magnet like Iverson helping to draw defenders away from him. Williams, while still very young and very raw, grew into a serviceable bench contributor.

Louis Williams with Andre Iguodala. (credit: Philly.com)

Louis Williams with Andre Iguodala. (credit: Philly.com)

The next season was quite surprising for many pundits. The Sixers were a playoff team just a year removed from trading away one of the franchises’ all time great players. Iguodala, the player drafted to be a piece to the puzzle not a cornerstone, once again upped his play alongside Andre Miller. Williams emerged as well playing in 80 games while becoming the team’s 4th highest scorer.

Another rookie joined the fray that season. Thaddeus Young was drafted with the 12th overall selection. As a rookie he averaged just over eight points per game and started in 22 contests for the Sixers.

The Sixers, a fringe playoff team one season removed from trading away their superstar made the decision following that season to dump their new found salary space into free agent power forward Elton Brand. That signing came with exactly what the team should have expected; injuries and a .500 record.

For the first time in Iguodala’s career, his point total decreased. Brand could not muster up 30 games following his torn ACL. Head coach, Maurice Cheeks was fired just 23 games in as the jack of all trades Tony DiLeo took over.

With all that, the team led mostly by Iguodala, Williams and Young somehow fought their way to 41 wins.

Thaddeus Young (credit: Philly.com)

Thaddeus Young (credit: Philly.com)

The next season saw the introduction of head coach Eddie Jordan, who led the Sixers to 27 wins. Iguodala was now in the second season of a contract that made him the second highest player on the team. The team also lost the services of their true point guard Andre Miller and threw their six man scoring guard into the starting five, masquerading him as a point guard.

The team also decided to dig up the past and sign Iverson for a brief stint after his career broke down. There was no reason to think that would be a distraction or a waste of court time. The team only had a young rookie point guard named Jrue Holiday that could have used that time.

The next season, the team still had Brand and still paid him like he was in his prime. Former Sixer Doug Collins took over the team.

Four of the best players on the roster were the aforementioned Iguodala, Williams, Holiday and Young. Williams and Young started a combined one game between them that season and rookie Evan Turner, the second overall pick, played just 23 minutes a night as he clashed with much of what the team had on the roster.

Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner (credit: Philly.com)

Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner (credit: Philly.com)

A good outcome to that season would have been an abysmal record, tons of playing time for Holiday and Turner and a trade to rid yourself of Brand. None of that happened.

In fact, the team made the playoffs AGAIN.

In 2011-12, the team was once again led by Iguodala, Williams, Holiday and Young with Williams, Young and Turner still being used as bench staples while Brand’s weakening knees still started 60 games (lockout season) while making over $17 million.

The team continued to win somehow. Collins led this bunch to a 35-31 record good for a playoff spot. The team rode a injury to Derrick Rose to a second round playoff appearance.

The appearance was to good to be true. That off-season the team finally parted with Brand. They also allowed Williams to walk in free agency and dealt away Iguodala. Was the franchise finally going to accept some mediocrity in exchange for the chance to build up again. No.

They acquired Andrew Bynum. Let’s not even get into what happened with that. We already know.

A 34-48 record led to the dismissal of Collins, the departure of Bynum and the dismantling of this bunch. Holiday, perhaps the most promising player of this era was dealt away on draft night and last week we saw the trading away of Turner.

The last two years have been ugly. They had to be. Was it the player’s faults though?

How about analyzing the attitude of the franchise?

Iguodala did not ask to be selected as the team’s key to the future following the Iverson debacle. Williams did not ask to be thrust into the role of a true point guard in a convoluted Princeton offense not made to fit anyone on the roster. Young did not ask to sit on the bench while the team paid millions of dollars to a player beyond his best days coming off a major leg injury.

Holiday did not ask the team to pair him up with a big man side kick who had lost all desire for the game and who’s knees were somehow shakier than Brand’s. Finally, Turner did not ask to be brought into a situation that had no space or need for any of the solid attributes of his game and to come to a team with a head coach not ready to commit to his top pick.

Young is the last member of this regime remaining. He does not want to play here anymore and for good reason. Next season, he will more than likely play elsewhere.

Can you say that these particular players where failures in Philly? It might be fair to say they were not successes but failures would give the connotation that they had every opportunity to succeed. The ineptitude of the leadership of the franchise made sure that was not the case. They did not accept that after losing Iverson the team needed to go through growing pains. If anyone failed, it was the ones wearing suits and ties, not jerseys.

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Posted on March 13, 2014, in 76ers, Ray Boyd and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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