By CAMERON MEISWINKEL Staff Writer
The Philadelphia 76ers have been the surprise team of the 2010-2011 NBA season. After going 27-55 a year ago, the Sixers posted a 41-41 record and earned themselves the seventh seed in the playoffs. Head Coach Doug Collins has been the catalyst behind the Sixers success. He has successfully found a way to take a team of (mostly) role players and transform them into a legitimate threat to contend for a title in the years to come. The Sixers are now a team that the rest of the league must take seriously. Led by Andre Igoudala and Elton Brand (who’s finally almost living up to his contract), the team has a chance to surpass the Knicks and the Celtics next season as the top team in the Atlantic Division.
However, this will only happen if Evan Turner becomes the player that Philly NEEDS him to be. While Turner has had a rough start to his NBA career, Sixers fans can only hope that he becomes comfortable and shows the all-around brilliance that he brought to the court every night at Ohio State. Turner MUST have a breakout season next year for the Sixers contention hopes to truly come to fruition.
Also, another big man wouldn’t hurt. Spencer Hawes won’t be able to contribute offensively at the center position, and Coach Collins, for whatever reason, isn’t too fond of young talent Marreese Speights. If Philly wants to be able to hang with Dwight Howard, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, and Al Horford, then Elton Brand needs some help in the paint.
The emergence of sharpshooter Jodie Meeks has been a pleasant surprise. Meeks, along with starting point guard Jrue Holiday, make for a dynamic and potential filled backcourt that Philly can build upon. With “Sweet Lou” Williams and Thaddeus Young coming off the bench, the Sixers have one of the most potent benches in the league.
The main decision that the Sixers will have to make is what to do with Andre Iguodala. Since the team is improving, management may decide to keep Iguodala. However, if Evan Turner develops, he has a very similar skill set to Iguodala. If the Sixers get an opportunity to move Iguodala’s hefty contract, they may pull the trigger. They can’t replace Iguodala’s leadership though, which makes the prospect of a deal unlikely. With this year’s draft being labeled as one of the weakest in a while, the Sixers will most likely have to stick it out with the group of guys that they have.
Overall, this season can be viewed as a huge success for Sixers fans. No one expected the team to be as good as they’ve been, and with Doug Collins at the helm, the Sixers can only improve.