Philadelphia 76ers

The Bucks selected T.J. Ford eighth overall in 2003
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
2005 DRAFT SELECTIONS
None
CURRENT FREE AGENTS
Matt Barnes (restricted)
Michael Bradley (player option)
Samuel Dalembert (restricted)
Josh Davis (restricted)
Willie Green (restricted)
Kyle Korver (restricted)
Jamal Mashburn (player has right to terminate contract)
Rodney Rogers (unrestricted)
RECENT DRAFT SELECTIONS
2004: 9. Andre Iguodala, Arizona
2003: 50. Paccelis Morlende, France
2002: 16. Jiri Welsch, Slovenia
45. Sam Clancy, USC
2001: 26. Samuel Dalembert, Seton Hall
37. Damone Brown, Syracuse
57. Alvin Jones, Georgia Tech
2000: 20. Speedy Claxton, Hofstra
48. Mark Karcher, Temple
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: Philly’s own Jim O’Brien had been commissioned to return the Sixers to the playoffs after Philly missed the postseason for the first time in six years in 2003-04. In a division without a dominant team, the Sixers were as safe a choice as any to win the division title.

What happened? The team accomplished its goal of returning to the postseason, but it wasn’t an easy trip for the Sixers, who needed an 8-3 April to sneak in with a 43-39 record.

Their projected starter at small forward, Glenn Robinson, never even appeared in a game for Sixers, mostly a testament to the NBA-readiness of Andre Iguodala. The rookie from Arizona started all 82 games for the Sixers and contributed 9.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals. Iguodala entered the league as a better defender than the Big Dog, whose contract was traded to New Orleans for Rodney Rogers and injured Jamal Mashburn in February.

If that deal didn’t register on the NBA’s Richter scale, the acquisition of Chris Webber did. Webber, playing on one leg, didn’t put up huge numbers after he was acquired from Sacramento, but the team was 12-9 in his 21 games. Webber and Allen Iverson give the team as formidable an inside-outside punch as any team in the league.

Iverson was the NBA’s scoring leader (30.2 ppg) and also among the league leaders in assists (7.9 apg) and steals (2.4 spg). On February 12th, he became only the 18th player in NBA history to score 60 points in a game. Though he wasn’t prominently mentioned in the Nash-O’Neal MVP debate, there’s no question that he is as valuable to his team as anyone in the NBA.

Known for his petulance as a young phenom, Iverson will celebrate his 30th birthday before draft day. Though nobody seems to talk about his maturity, he has deftly handled a rebuilding era in which he has played for three coaches in the last two seasons. He must adapt once again, as the Sixers hired Maurice Cheeks to replace O’Brien in May.

What now? As Billy King fashions a roster to his new coach’s liking, he will have to so via trades or free agency, as the Sixers first-round pick belongs to the Toronto Raptors.

Philadelphia needs some backcourt depth, even though they are contractually bound to Kevin Ollie and Aaron McKie, two solid pros on the downslide. Last summer’s trade of Eric Snow (and his hefty contract) seems prescient in light of Snow’s struggles this year in Cleveland; nevertheless Snow was great insurance against an extended Iverson injury, something the Sixers don’t have now.

Willie Green and Kyle Korver are free agents. Korver made more treys than anyone else in the league, and at a 40 percent clip. Assuming he agrees to a long-term deal, the Sixers would still benefit from another long-range gunner.

As Eastern Conference teams go, the Sixers have above-average depth up font with Samuel Dalembert, Webber and Marc Jackson.