Scouting the Adversary: The Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers come in at 5-5 as the first week surprise of the league. How are they doing it and what do the Pelicans need to focus on?

Spencer Hawes:

WTF? The Dude's on fire uncharacteristically from beyond the arc. Brett Brown's high octane system has Hawes taking some Hawesome 3's instead of two's and it has a big impact on the Philadelphia offensive attack.

Check out DBod's article for a bit more detail then I could possibly give with my eyecheck analysis:

That said, our conclusions is much the same. I feel like this is "Hawes putting up Stats on a bad team". I also feel like Hawes's 3's aren't going to go in at this kind of rate for very much longer.

What *might*(and I put emphasis on might, because he plays this way oh, 5 times a year) be more consistent is Hawes's rebounding. For games at a time, Hawes actually tries to play the part of an NBA center and he's averaging 10 RPG through 10 games this year. Although this too IMO is an empty stat IMO.

Hawes still doesn't do a particularly good job clearing the lanes and I feel as though his post defense is still very much poor. In fact I blame our bigs(nonexistent as they are and were last year) for a lot of our defensive struggles.

He is somehow getting a lot of weak side shotblocking IMO which continues to stun me. How is it that a guy that plays piss poor post defense, has little understanding of how to hedge off perimeter slashers can block shots on the weak side?

On some days he's a 9th man on a title team, on some days he's a starter. UGH. Hawes being Hawes.

Evan Turner: Finally Turned the Corner?

To be fair to Turner, I thought everyone really didn't understand what Turner needed to do to translate into the league(even Turner himself). It wasn't his "jump shot"(that everyone kept harping on). What Turner's biggest flaw was, and it was probably part Collins system, mostly him was his deference to everyone. From Iguodala(questionable at best) to Jrue (and I'm still a big Holiday fan despite the struggles) Turner didn't engage the system.

There were times even with Doug where he would engage the system though. He'd push the ball with his rebounding and in transition, getting him opportunities and he'd recognize his Hot Spots(typically 16-18 footers and somewhat in close).

But often, this kind of aggression wasn't seen from Turner. Every time he would, his lack of athleticism and lack of creativity(which we see a lot more this year) would lead to missed buckets from in close(and leading me to lament that he may have been the most blocked wing man possibly ever).

He'd complain to the refs, his defense average at best(and to be a critique, it's still non existent but that goes for everyone) and to everyone he was a spot starter at best.

This year, it's a different story. Drop-steps, first step explosiveness. A clear decisiveness about where and how to go to the basket. And understanding how to use his physical gifts to it's best advantages. Not a leaper? Then use your ability to draw contact to get separation.

He's playing like a 2 guard. Getting all of the opportunities of one and producing like one.(And at 18.2 SPG(Shots per game) he had better take advantage of that opportunity.

So is Turner worth resigning? IMO, it depends. I've always resisted the analytics movement as some way of micromanaging the game, rather then exploiting all possible usages of basketball. (After all, to disown the midrange shot is to disown great players like Chris Webber and Clyde the Glide who used the mid-range area exclusively). Even Dirk operates from the mid-range/inside.

Right now, Turner's 3pt shot is non existent(after being OMG awesome last year). Turner has to continue averaging 5.8 FTA to allow for a decent PPS. And I'd like for his turnovers to decline.

Overall, he might be a second option that'll thrive with another wing who can shoot the 3 and take attention away from him. I feel like when Turner is going to be on people's scouting reports, the physical defensive wings will end up tumbling this hot start down to size. That's the one thing we've yet to truly see, if Turner can play more physical. The moment a physical wing is on him in the prior 3 seasons, he shuts down.

But if the year ended right now? I'd give a contract that's somewhere from 9 mill(with increases) to an 11 M flat salary.

Right now I see him as a Rudy Gay-ish type of player, which isn't quite max but as we can see from Joe Johnson's play with the Nets it's incredibly under-rated. Turner's an RFA so we can match any offer next year, but if he keeps this up I want us to wrap him up quickly with a fair and reasonable extension.

Jrue, What Jrue?

One of the reasons I lamented the trade(well, 'lament' in terms of building a future roster) is that PG is the most important position in basketball. And Jrue was an AS PG. I saw Noel in Serge Ibaka terms. Talented to be sure, but no where close to Jrue's impact on the team last year. Of course, that was the whole point of the deal but it still felt like a loss(and I had you guys pegged for 45 with Jrue/Anthony Davis together).

It was augmented with the pick of Michael-Carter Williams. Who struggled so badly in College IMO(not only statistically but in the games I watched against for example Louisville/Duke, teams with the talent to match up with him. As well as a Georgia Tech game). There was a lot of MCW I didn't like. I noticed his high handle, I thought he had a low awareness of driving lanes and I thought he played off the ball too much. I saw the Livingston comparisons and nodded. I made one even more skeptical: Marko Jaric.

This year, MCW has made me a believer. Namely by fixing all of his flaws seemingly over the summer. He's attacking the basket now, understanding that when a lane is open, take it. I like how he's playing on the ball and even coming back to the basketball. Maybe it was the Syracuse offensive system?

Oh, but he won't be playing tonight. He has a High Ankle sprain suffered in his most recent epic performance against Cleveland and sat out VS Atlanta. I can't possibly see him ready in 24 hours(actually more like 12).

So does that mean we'll look like the lottery team we're supposed to be? No. Enter in the praises of Sam Hinkie.



I love Tony, Sam loves Tony. Everyone loves this kid. We got him for basically nothing, and the dude's excelled in a sixth man/SG role. But his natural position was PG so when MCW went down, we got to take a look at Wroten the PG.

Which is damn impressive. He followed up his first triple double(and first start ever) with another 18/9 performance against the Hawks yesterday. He has great court vision(I noticed this even as a sixth man) and that allows him either to attack the basket or to find guys. It's not like other "gunners" who have tunnel vision. Tony has a rare, raw skill that allows him to be a scorer and a playmaker at the same time.

It makes me want to start him over the impotent James Anderson(despite his Houston outburst) when MCW is healthy, but that'll weaken a thin bench even more.

Not to say I'll pass up Dante Exum or the Harrison Twins if those are the BPA on the board, but I'm a lot more comfortable now with drafting a big/wing man then I was a couple of months ago.

Are some of these players excelling because we have no one else? Yeah. But Jrue and the crew better not sleep on these guys. From what I read, you guys have trouble guarding the P N R and shooters/slashers. I have bad news: That's how we play regardless of whether we're up or down 20.

Now, some things you can exploit(more like what everyone can exploit).

Poor bench:

Daniel Orton

Hollis Thompson

Darius Morris

Brandon Davies.

That tells you all you need to know. Just attack Hawes and get him in foul trouble. Blow out will ensue(or it should).

The worst 3pt defensive team in the league(and I'd say worst defensive team period).

It's amazing because Brett Brown comes from the Spurs, but the Sixers are really terrible, super awful, incredibly bad at defense. A lot of it is personnel(When Noel comes back IMO, we'll give up 20 PPG less). But alot of it is running around with our heads cut off on defense. Poorly timed doubles, passing lanes being given up. Inability to stop any and all kinds of dribble penetration.

With virtually no big or perimeter defense whatsoever. Use Jrue/Davis to it's advantage in P N R situations, we're not going to cover either of those guys very(or any) well at all. If Anderson were healthy, this'd be a shoe in. But hopefully Reke can shake off the rust and Gordon can continue executing.

That said, I want to add a tidbit before ending the scouting: None of the forementioned is on Brown. Even Brown himself admitted that the kids are young and can't grasp too much of the Spurs scheme yet. Besides, it's part of the Plan ;) I love Brett Brown as a terrific head coach and his offensive system will work all the more with a Randle, with a Wiggins or Parker. The year will be tough on Sixers fans, but our future is as bright as ever.

(Oh and dont' worry, I'm looking forward to watching the Pelicans live and my favorite Jrue for the first time. I just wanted to give you guys the laydown on your opponents).

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