The 76ers are poised to be the potentially bright light in what has been a dark and dismal year for Philadelphia sports. With the Phillies’ unprecedented crash and burn, the Eagles’ season so far turning out to be a drama-filled disappointment, and the Flyers falling victim to the NHL lockout, many Philly sports fans are itching for the regular season basketball games to start.
And it’s no wonder why.
It is an exciting time for the Sixers. After an improbable playoff run in June, which led them to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Boston Celtics, the Sixers have made some big changes in the lineup that presumably bode very well for the upcoming season’s prospects. However, there are many out there who are still skeptical about what the high-profile addition of the big man Andrew Bynum (Center) will really accomplish for the Sixers.
It wasn’t exactly a “Show Ya Luv!” kind of situation for Bynum his last few years with the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, on his way out, Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar expressed his disdain for Bynum’s recent mode of play, stating that his commitment to winning has been “up and down.” Abdul-Jabbar also made sure to include a dig on Bynum’s lack of respect for the “fundamentals” of the game, as well as casting doubt on his ability to be a leader. But these statements refer to Bynum’s play with a Lakers team wrought with problems, from the loss of coach Phil Jackson, to the ball-hogging Kobe Bryant, and the inconsistent Pau Gasol. Bynum, however, was still able to record his best statistical year despite the Lakers inability to make it into the post-season.
And now, his new teammates are a lot younger, more malleable, and better suited for the presence of Bynum on the court. Perhaps the cache that comes with being the biggest “star” on the team will motivate Bynum to mature as a player and step up and take lead of the team. Provided he can stay healthy despite his history of knee problems (which kept him out of the entire pre-season and have stopped him from practicing), and not clash outright with Coach Doug Collins, the big man’s presence could make the Sixers a forcible team in the loaded Eastern Conference.
At point-guard, Jrue Holiday’s biggest contribution will have to be setting up situations in which Bynum can score. He’s going to have to establish himself as a three-point shooter, as Bynum’s control of the court will undoubtedly leave spots undefended around the perimeter. New acquisition Jason Richardson can shoot threes, as can Nick Young, and Holiday needs to join the party. Bynum should be their big scorer in the paint, but he will tend to draw defenders to the net. Evan Turner, Dorell Wright, Nick Young, and Spencer Hawes could provide a stand out defense, as well as substantially adding to the offensive power. At power forward, Hawes is important because he likely be able to get down into the paint with Bynum, as well as the fact that he is an outstanding jump shooter. The addition of Richardson will most likely allow for Turner to ease up on taking too many shots, instead allowing him to create and make important plays. With Richardson, Turner will most likely have more room than he did with Andre Iguodala, be able to draw out defenders, and possibly have more opportunities to drive the basket. He won’t get as many rebounds with Bynum under the net, but it will allow him to stay back a bit and get on defense more quickly. Turner could potentially be a major game changer for the Sixers this year. A lot of the pressure for this season falls on Holiday. Although he’s a strong scorer, it must be reiterated that he will need to focus more on creating opportunities for Bynum at center; it is also imperative to work on improving his passing, especially around the perimeter. He could potentially rack up assist upon assist, hitting Bynum at the right time or dumping it off to Nick Young for the three. Holiday should also be able to run the pick-and-roll perfectly with Bynum, despite the double teams he will most certainly draw.
And if you’re not already sick enough of the Bynum talk, there is one more intensely important thing that he brings to the table: big name star power. The Sixers have been in that weird, limbo-like rebuilding stage for quite some time now; and the absence of a star player like Allen Iverson has taken some wind out of the sails of the fan base. However, with the acquisition of a player like Bynum, who is a highly recognizable name with the talent to back it up, the fans who Show Their Luv will have an exciting new player around who they can rally. And the fans’ feelings towards the Sixers this year is actually of the utmost importance. Philadelphia sports teams have had a rough year, no doubt. After the Phillies’ abysmal season and the Eagles’ heart-attack inducing start, the Sixers could bring an air of hope and positivity to the ever-loyal Philly fans, who deserve a bit of happiness, don’t you think?
With the season opener on October 31 against the Denver Nuggets, Philly fans should be excited, because the chance for glory could be right around the corner.Tags: Allen Iverson, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bynum, Dorell Wright, Doug Collins, Evan Turner, Jason Richardson, Jrue Holiday, Nick Young, Philadelphia 76ers, Spencer Hawes