While I was a RealGM poster, on the sixers community many of us wondered: What's wrong? The team was mostly intact from a year ago and we didn't really hit the injury bug that badly How could a team that played up to the level of great compeition(such as the Spurs, Blazers) and the Hawks on a routine basis be 27-55 a year later?
Alot of it has to do with EFJ/Coach Quirky, some of it has to do with the struggles of guys like Young and Iguodala, neither of whom were as effective as they were a year ago. But, Lou had a great season and Jrue Holiday really stepped up his game towards the mid-way point of the season. Of course, offense wasn't the problem even with Young, Iguodala and later Speights playing below their talent level, defense was. So who'd we lose defensively? Irregardless of a funny NBA.com article that claimed Andre Miller was responsible for the Blazers "improved" defense, I highly doubt Miller led the defensive charge for this team.
Re-Introducing Reggie Evans, we acquired him at the start of the 2007 season for Steven Hunter and Bobby Jones, little did we know how much of a steal that was, as Hunter suffered a career-ending injury. Let's see what our record was in the two seasons prior to Evans and the two seasons as a Sixer.
35-47: No Playoffs
38-44: No Playoffs
In each of both seasons, you'll notice we were severely outrebounded. This is also the time when Webber started his decline and well, after that there's not much talent on those Sixers team. But was it rebounding all that
Evans brought? Here's the defensive rating of both teams:
2006: 17th out of 30
2005: 25th out of 30
Yeah, we sucked not just on the boards but defensively as well. That's why it's important to note Joe Smith, he caused just as much havoc as Andre Miller did. Without Joe Smith, one wonders if we still would've been in the top 8-10 pick range.
2007: 40-42, lost in 6 to Detroit
2008: 41-41, Lost in 6 to Orlando
After two years of finishing significantly under the .500 mark(sadly not significantly enough), just the addition of Reggie Evans alone made this team a playoff team. One can argue about the maturity of Iguodala and that's fine, but I don't think giving Iguodala AI's and Webber's touches would've made any more of a difference to the W-L record if our interior defense didn't improve. To see if the record correlates with the individual, let's check out Reggie Evans's wins shares :).
Reggie Evans had the 3rd highest win shares of his career at 2.7, he followed it up with 2.0 Wins shares. His 2.0 is arguably 5th-or-6th best in his career. To be sure, Evans is always around this particular number which proves even more so, that he's a guy that can win you games. Maybe not conventionally, but never theless he's effective at what he can do. Per 48, Evans's wins shares are probably around 5th-to-6th(can't exactly pinpoint because there's so many numbers :D).
The loss of Evans was a huge blow in the locker room and on the court. The interior defense and rebounding was gone, and we pretty much were like 2006 all over again. Jim O'Brien said it while taking leave as Sixers head coach, he said then-GM Billy King over-rated his talent. It was probably somewhere around the 2007 season where King probably thought "Jim was right, these guys are over-rated"
Now it's time to learn our lesson again: These guys ain't who we think they are.(Speights: I'm looking at you)