There was a time when I thought we should trade Andre Iguodala because the Sixers were going nowhere in part because they were trying to make Iguodala into the star he clearly didn't have the skillset for. Then as it became clear that we were going to trade him the Sixers stopped making him the star and he returned to his role of defensive stopper/facilitator/occasional scorer. And what happened: He-and the team-started playing better.
Fast forward to this 76ers team: We don't need a star because chances are Iguodala, Holiday, Lou, Thad, or Elton Brand has a matchup they can expose. We are winning because we have 7-8 players who can all step in and play. All these guys are talented but none to the point that our team can’t function and win without them. Because of this any player who doesn't want to play defense or pass the ball finds himself out of the rotation regardless of talent (Speights). We are winning because of versatility and chemistry. Iggy is key to our chemistry as the longest tenured Sixer and key to our versatility because he is above average at scoring, rebounding, passing, and he takes his defensive craft as serious as his offense. A little reminder of what happens when your best players don't care about defense:
I hear Monta Ellis being mentioned a possible replacement. Let me just say I love Ellis offensive game. He’s one of the most explosive guards in the league, and certainly would give us that 20-25 ppg scorer we don’t have. But consider that in Ellis’ six years in Golden State they are 52 games under .500. They have given up over 105 PPG in each of the last five years. I know Ellis hasn’t had much talent around him and I can’t speak too much on Ellis individual defensive game. I know he has quick hands and quick feet, so he can probably accumulate steals and be a decent one-on-one defender when he wants to be. But clearly he’s coming from a system with no emphasis on lock-down defense. Defensive accountability and unselfish play have been the keys to our success this year. Let’s not trade a player who embodies these ideals for a guy who is talented as hell but goes against our core team philosophy. There’s a reason Ron Artest still had teams interested even after he started punching out fans. Because guys who score 15 PPG and are elite defenders are guys you win championships with. And while Andre might not be Artest-in his-prime on defense, Artest never had Andre’s passing ability either.
*If we do trade Iguodala I would would much rather have the main return be a big man who can block shots and rebound. Hawes can't really block and Brand is undersized at 6-8. My biggest concern for our team right now is taller teams outrebounding us and negating our fast break. Im thinking somebody like Tyson Chandler or JeVale McGee. Imagine how deadly our defense would be if we could bring a real shot-blocking center off the bench.
One more thing: Teams in the past 30 years to win a championship without a 20-PPG scorer: 2007-08 Celtics (Pierce 19.6 PPG), 2003-04 Pistons (Hamilton 17.6 PPG), 1989-90 Pistons (Isiah Thomas 18.4 PPG), 1988-89 Pistons (Adrian Dantley 18.4 PPG). *The Sixers leading scorer right now is Lou Williams with 16.2 PPG.
My point: Although most championship teams have a "star", there have been defensive/balanced scoring teams to win championships. The reason it is easier to win with a star is because a star gives you a surefire plan when the game is on the line (Give it to Kobe/MJ/Hakeem Olajuwon and get out of his way). The Sixers challenge this year is to identify what their best course of action is when the game is on the line. My opinion is that the ball should be in the hands of Jrue Holiday or Lou Williams. They to me are the Sixers I trust most to get into the lane at will and either finish or draw a defender and pass. Whether you want them to go one-on-one, run a pick and pop with Brand, or dish to Meeks is something that really depends on game situation. But if the Sixers are going to be serious contenders they need a plan for the last possession and they need to come up with it soon so they can test it throughout the season.