For those who think that coaching and cohesion doesn't matter in the NBA, take one look at the 2009-10 Philadelphia 76ers. A playoff team in 2008 and 2009, the Sixers seemed to be on the upswing thanks to some intriguing young talent. They just needed to improve offensively, and thought they could do it by hiring offensive guru Eddie Jordan to run their team.
Clearly, it didn't work. Jordan's Princeton offense was a terrible fit for the 76ers' roster, mostly because the 76ers had below-average passers at nearly every position, and the team's defense, once the club's strength, slipped considerably last season. Jordan ended up clashing with several of the players on the team, including Elton Brand, the highest-paid player on the roster. Player rotations were a mess, and the team eventually developed bad habits that cost them many, many games.
Predictably, Jordan was fired, and after a short coaching search, the 76ers decided on Doug Collins as his replacement. Why the Sixers think a three-time retread will dramatically change their fortunes is beyond me, but at least Collins is more experienced with teams that lack pure point guards. He had a lot of success in Chicago and Detroit running the offense through a wing player (Michael Jordan, Grant Hill), and he at least has a similar kind of player on his roster in Andre Igoudala. There's also rookie Evan Turner, who was essentially a point guard in a shooting guard's body at Ohio State. However, Turner struggled mightily in Summer League games, and he's not an ideal fit with Iguodala.
If I sound down on Doug Collins, it's because I am. However, SB Nation's 76ers blog Liberty Ballers is excited about the hire.
Jordan also implemented his system, which magnified the players weaknesses rather than strengths. In hindsight Eddie Jordan was a terrible fit for this team, and they were a terrible fit for him, which is probably why the Sixers went out and hired Jordan's polar-opposite, Doug Collins.
Collins will serve as a leader and role model for the Sixers young core -- something they've desperately lacked. He will also put them in position to succeed by allowing them to play to their strengths.
It is true that Collins' style is more suited to the 76ers' roster. This should mean that defense -- a weakness last season -- will be a strength again, as Liberty Ballers notes.
You wouldn't know by last year's defensive efficiency rating (24th), but the Sixers strengths will be their perimeter defenders, athleticism, and transition game. They'll have a unique opportunity to start a top five defender at both point guard and small forward in Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala. Iguodala is already considered a top five wing defender by many, and continued to prove so on Team USA. Jrue is far from proven and me mentioning him as a potential top five defensive point guard probably has non-Sixers fans picking their jaws up from the floor right about now, but in order to fully understand my stance you would need to witness the defensive brilliance he flashed last season.
Throw in Turner, who projects to be an excellent defender, and the 76ers have the potential to have great perimeter defense. Unfortunately, they're pretty weak everywhere else, as Liberty Ballers notes.
The Sixers biggest weaknesses are three-point shooting, interior defense, defensive rebounding, and half-court offense.
Well then, that's a lot of weaknesses. That should kill any talk of the playoffs.
Liberty Ballers predicts a 35-47 record. Me? Those are a ton of weaknesses, and as much as I think Collins can squeeze some wins out of this roster, I'm not buying 35 wins. I'll say 29-53 instead.