When a team trades away its franchise player, it often takes a while for them to recover. But when the Sixers traded Allen Iverson (along with Ivan McFarlin) to the Nuggets last Dec. 19 for Andre Miller, Joe Smith and a pair of picks, it didn't take long for them to start moving in a positive direction again.
The Sixers went 30-29 after the trade and were an impressive 18-11 (.621) after the All-Star break. They became a much more balanced offensive team, and a better defensive squad as well. Andre Iguodala broke out as an All-Star caliber player, averaging 19.6 points, 5.5 boards and 6.2 assists after the trade.
Meanwhile, Miller gave Philly a more traditional point guard, one who's more concerned with getting Iguodala and Kyle Korver the ball where they want it than scoring himself.
So, while the Sixers are still missing some pieces and are probably the consensus favorite to finish last in their division, they're in better shape for the long haul than they have been in a long time.
Every year at this time, we would ask whether or not Allen Iverson was a point guard, and whether it was better to play him alongside a distributor like Eric Snow or a shooter like Kyle Korver. Those questions are no longer valid, as Andre Miller gives them a solid pass-first floor general to build their backcourt around.
With Iguodala able to play either the two or three, you could start Rodney Carney, Willie Green or Kyle Korver at the other wing. Korver is (obviously) the catch-and-shoot guy, Green is a more traditional scorer and Carney is a freak athlete who can be a lockdown defender and may also be the second-best shooter on the team.
Louis Williams played well in Summer League and just turns 21 on Oct. 27, but he still has to prove that he can be a contributor every day in the NBA.
Joe Smith and Steven Hunter are out and Reggie Evans is in. Evans doesn't give them much offensively, but he's one of the best rebounders in the league.
Samuel Dalembert suffered a stress fracture in his left foot this summer, but he should be back for the start of the season to man the middle. But after Evans and Dalembert, there's not much proven NBA talent up front for the Sixers, so someone on the bench will need to step up.
Thaddeus Young, the No. 12 pick in the draft, is probably more of a long-term project (he's only 19), but with the lack of depth up front, he may get a chance to play some minutes at the four. He's not that polished offensively, but he's got a nose for the ball.
Shavlik Randolph, who might not be full recovered from the fractured ankle he suffered last November, Louis Amundson, who is an energy guy, and Jason Smith, their other first-round pick, should also get a chance at playing time.
-- John Schuhmann
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When Samuel Dalembert is at his best, he controls the glass and the paint as well as anyone in the league. His combination of length and athleticism can make him a disruptive force defensively.
The problem is that Dalembert isn't at his best all that often. He's the epitome of inconsistency. He'll give you 15 and 15 (with a few blocks thrown in) one night and six and six the next.
Dalembert is entering his sixth NBA season, but he's only 26 years old. If he can get put it all together, he can give the Sixers a significant presence inside to go along with their perimeter talent.
-- John Schuhmann
||Andre Iguodala started the first 232 games of his career before sitting out with a lower back strain against Charlotte on March 23.
Seventh season, Third with Sixers
Two times, 3-7 (.300)
Mo Cheeks is 73-91 (.445) in his two seasons with the Sixers, and while any coach would have a tough time producing a winning record with the team he has, Cheeks' future status in Philadelphia may hinge on how he handles his young squad this season.
-- John Schuhmann
KNOW YOUR SIXERS
Kyle Korver's mother once scored 74 points in a high school game.
The thing that scares me about the Sixers is that they play hard all the time. And adding Reggie Evans gives you another energy guy.
Louis Williams had a great summer league, playing a lot like like Iverson did.
I don't know how deep they are, and, other than Iguodala, I don't know where they get their scoring from in the starting lineup.
They're a littler easier to defend when Iguodala is handling the ball, because I'd rather have him with the ball 30 feet from the basket than coming off a pin-down or a zipper and getting it closer to the hoop. Before he puts the ball on the floor, he's awfully dangerous. And Miller is a pretty good point guard. He makes pretty good decisions. If Iguodala has the ball up top, you know what's going to happen. It's either going to be a pick-and-roll or he's going to try to beat you off the dribble.
-- Eastern Conference Scout