Coming into this season, the Philadelphia 76ers had a lot of problems. They didn’t have a dominant big man, they lacked quality shooters and they simply weren’t good at scoring. They managed to fix a lot of those problems thanks to some smart moves by the front office; but not everything is all set and ready to go.
We all know that the Sixers’ biggest enemy is not having a star to take over games late. Last season, they elected to go to Andre Iguodala. But, he had not gotten it done for the last three or four years. His basketball IQ—knowledge of what to do with the ball at a key moment—was not in question. It was his decision making, however, that was questionable. Over the past few seasons, the Sixers have been involved in quite a few close games. Almost every time, the ball has gone to Andre Iguodala. I can say that eighty-five percent of the time, Iguodala would do a quick crossover move, step back, and throw up an off-balance shot that got nothing but air.
It was not as if Iguodala is incapable of getting to the basket; it is not even that he is a poor outside shooter. His problem is that he is a poor free throw shooter. Lacking the ability to make free throws is a huge minus in the NBA. If one is a bad or unconfident free throw shooter, he will not go to the basket as much. So, players who cannot shoot from the line would rather take their chances with a “J”. Andre Iguodala feared the basket and seldom did he ever choose to get into the paint and go in for a dunk or a tough lay-up, two plays he’ll make 8 times out of 10.
Over the years, Iguodala has been a “boy separated from the men”. He has not been considered a super-star because he has not shown the ability to take over games late and make clutch shots. LeBron can do it—at least now. Kobe can do it. Kevin Durant can do it. Dwyane Wade can do it. The stars can do it, but Iguodala has not proved that he is one of them.
Then, during last season’s playoffs, Iguodala sank two game-winning free throws to knock off the injury-riddled, first-seeded Bulls, sending the Sixers to the second round. Against the Celtics, he sunk numerous clutch baskets, which he had not made in the same situations before. It was a completely different player.
In the trade that sent Iguodala to Denver, the Sixers got a great center and a great shooter. What still remains, however is that big, looming question: “5 seconds left with the Sixers down by 2. Who does the ball go to?”
This is a huge hole that the Sixers may have filled with their new acquisitions. Jason “J-Rich” Richardson is a great shooter. He has been known to send in a big three or two, especially with the game on the line.
Star center Andrew Bynum has been known to overpower smaller defenders and dunk the ball ferociously late in games. But Bynum’s stats show that, last year, he averaged 4 turnovers per game. That stat, to me, means that Bynum should not get the ball in a clutch situation. The referees never call fouls in close games. It is so easy to visualize the ball going to Bynum in the low post and him losing the ball via the double-team or a shaky move to the basket.
Then there is free agent guard Nick Young, a scoring threat who the Sixers signed to replace lost combo-guard Lou Williams. He’s shown that his biggest asset is scoring, especially when his team needs a big jumper at any point in the game.
If you ask me, the ball needs to be in the hands of Richardson or Young. Evan Turner is a nice player, but the athleticism and perimeter shooting that those two bring to the table simply make them the team’s best last-second option.
Leave your thoughts below on who you think should be the 76ers’ “closer” in 2012-2013.