Collins: We're Becoming A Power Team
For the past two seasons, the Sixers have been the proverbial runt of the NBA litter – making up for their lack of size with endearing tenacity and grit. Now, they’re the big dog on the block.
In 2011-12, the five-man lineup that statistically produced the most wins for Philadelphia was Jrue Holiday (6-4), Lou Williams (6-1), Evan Turner (6-7), Thaddeus Young (6-8), and Elton Brand (6-9). As a unit, they averaged a shade under 6'7" each.
This coming season, the Sixers’ likely starters – Holiday (6-4), Turner (6-7), Dorell Wright (6-9), Spencer Hawes (7-1), and Andrew Bynum (7-0) – average a whopping 6’9”– making them the tallest projected starting five in the entire league. With Hawes and Bynum at the four and five positions, head coach Doug Collins’ starting frontcourt will be one of only three in the NBA to feature two seven-footers – Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman of the Dallas Mavericks and Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas of the Toronto Raptors form the other two pairs.
Collins, a throwback coach who puts paramount emphasis on protecting the paint on defense and producing easy buckets on offense, is understandably thrilled with his team’s recent transformation.
“Big men give you a chance to (slow the game down), they give you rim protection, they get you to the foul line, and they get you into the paint – where the game is won,” said an ebullient Collins Wednesday. “We went from being an undersized team two years ago, with a finishing lineup that had Elton Brand and Thad Young on the front line. Now, we're more of a power team. We have Bynum, we have Kwame Brown, we have Lavoy Allen, we have Hawes, we have Thaddeus Young and we have Wright, and the best part is we added shooting. I think power and shooting are tough to beat.”
But don’t expect Collins, who is always looking for a strategic edge, to simply send out the heavyweights and let them go to work. He envisions the team going with a smaller, perimeter-oriented lineup on occasion, to take advantage of teams that try to double-team Bynum in the post.
“We can play a lot of different ways,” said Collins. “We can put four shooters on the floor with Bynum, if we want to play a smaller lineup. Dorell Wright, who is 6-9, can slide over and play the hybrid four and can really shoot the ball. We could have Jrue Holiday, Jason Richardson, Nick Young, and Dorell Wright out there with him, and they all shoot better than 35 percent from beyond the three-point line, so (with that lineup) we’d have really good spacing on the floor.
“(Then, when we go big), with Andrew and Kwame, we think we have two of the best post defenders in the NBA.”
The mantra of the Sixers’ front office has remained constant throughout the offseason – improve the team's perimeter shooting and its post presence. Now, they have four deadly shooters working with Evan Turner on the perimeter, and a strong, physical frontcourt rotation that features bangers Bynum, Brown, and Allen. Add to that two ultra-skilled four-men in Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young, and Doug Collins will have a cupboard full of toys to play with come October 11, when he'll have his first opportunity to see it all come together in the team’s preseason opener in Orlando.