A large amount of words have been furiously typed about Coach Collins and whether or not he is the right person to coach the team moving forward. In order to make this decision I think there a series of factors to take into account such as: X's and O's, motivational skills, player development and so on. This article will focus on the player development aspect of coaching and more specifically how the 76ers 1st round draft picks during Collins' tenure have fared compared to other 1st round draft picks as far as minutes are concerned. Edit: I just finished writing this and this is way longer than I expected it to be due to some therapeutic ranting, so be warned.
I have gone through the last 3 drafts and have arranged the players taken in the first round by 4 categories dealing with where they were picked. The categories are 1st-5th, 6th-10th, 11th-20th, and 21st-30th. Admittedly the cutoffs for the categories were rather arbitrary but I thought 1-10 was too wide of a range. I'd also like to note that there are 6 1st round picks who never stepped foot on the court for their teams in the first year due to injury or being overseas: Jonas Valnciunas, Donatas Motiejunas, Royce White, Elliot Williams, Daniel Orton, and Nikola Mirotic. For the purposes of this "study" we'll leave them out. I contemplated leaving out players who had large injuries and who have played less than 10 games too but that wouldn't exactly be a catch all and it might take away some of the information we actually want to see.
The tables I constructed from basketball reference stats are probably too large to include in here so below I will just give a quick summary breakdown at each category.
1st-5th pick: 14 players combined for 22,124 minutes in 872 games for a MPG of 25.37.
6th-10th pick: 15 players combined for 21,501 minutes in 935 games for a MPG of 23.
11th-20th pick: 28 players combined for 22,071 minutes in 1257 games for a MPG of 17.56.
21st-30th pick: 27 players combined for 13,877 minutes in 980 games for a MPG of 14.16.
The Sixers have drafted 4 1st round players during Collins' tenure and they have been Evan Turner (2nd), Moe Harkless (15th), Nik Vucevic (16th), and Arnett Moultrie (27th). However, we can't credit Moe's minutes for the study to Doug because he was traded before the season started.
I think we should start with Evan Turner and see how he stacks up against his fellow categorians. Evan played 23 minutes a game in his rookie year which by itself doesn't seem all that impressive, especially for a 2nd overall pick. In the context of his peers it doesn't get any better. Out of the 14 guys picked 1st-5th in the last 3 years who have played he finished 10th in MPG, behind such great talent like Wes Johnson. John Wall headlines this group with nearly 38 minutes per game and Enes Kanter brings up the rear with 13 minutes per game.
Next we'll look at Nik Vucevic who was selected 16th overall in the 2011draft. Nik finished his rookie year with a hair under 16 MPG which was good for 12th out of 28 guys who played in the 10th-20th pick category. Iman Shumpert (a 17th pick) got the most minutes out of this bunch at nearly 29 MPG and Jeremy Lamb (a 12th pick) has fared the worst with 4.4 MPG. As a bonus Moe Harkless has received almost 21 MPG with Orlando this season and that figure is trending upwards, this is good for 8th in the category.
Finally, a peek at the 21- 30 range shows us how our very own rare bird, Arnett Moultrie, fairs against similar picks. Arnett has averaged 8.5 minutes per game in 20 games for a total of 170 minutes. I've recently taken up the cause of railing against Doug for not giving him any minutes, so is he getting the minutes a pick like him should be getting? Well out of 27 players he has the 19th most MPG. MarShon Brooks is the star of this group with over 29 MPG and Jared Cunnigham is the goat with 3.25 MPG.
You'll notice that each range I just discussed previously had a player who got more MPG than our very own Villain, Evan Turner. So I thought it'd be fun to tell you where each Sixer ranks amongst the entire crop of 1st round picks. Evan Turner is 24th overall in MPG, Harkless (should of kept) is ranked 30th, Nik Vucevic (should of kepter) is 46th and our very own invisible man, Arnett Moultrie is 69th all out of 84.
What I take away from this is that Turner has played way too low of minutes in his rookie year than he should have considering his draft pick. Jodie Meeks was getting 28 MPG with the Sixers that year and if they flip flopped those minutes you couldn't really say much with regards to Doug not playing Turner enough. As far as Vuce is concerned I suppose the amount of playing time as compared to other 1st rounders was fair. When put into context of other things (read- Spencer Hawes) you could probably make a case for a little more time for Vuce. As a side note, I feel Doug giving Lavoy the minutes he did last year was commendable and probably is way above average for most 2nd round picks in their rookie year, although I didn't include the 2nd round in this study. However, I will say upon closer examination of game logs the minutes that were given to Vucevic and Allen last year were rather sporadic. Lavoy's game log illustrates this best where he had 22 straight games of double digit minutes and then on either side of that he was getting pretty much no minutes. You'd think that more regular time in a set rotation instead of blowing rotations up all the time on a whim would lend itself to more consistent play.
I want to give Arnett Moultrie his own focus paragraph because dude needs some love that he's not getting from his coach. We've said it all before 100 times and are likely to say it 100 more times but Moultrie needs to play more minutes, period. This year has shown an obvious weakness amongst the frontcourt outside of Thad Young. Hawes continues to get minutes despite doing all the bad things and Lavoy keeps getting over played out of position. Most of Moultrie's minutes have come in a handful of games this season and after showing promise in that handful of games he's been played 12 minutes in 4 games since the All-Star Break. If this was a winning team or even a team with already solid frontcourt play, this would be justifiable. But our beloved Sixers are far from this.
Anyway going forward I don't have confidence that Doug is the guy who is going to develop young talent. He's at his wit's end with Hawes and yet he continues to pass over Moultrie to play Hawes. Not many can argue that Doug has shown he loves veteranosity which is a tired notion in my eyes. I will also go so far as to say that given what this study shows, Collins doesn't play rookies the minutes they should given their position drafted, he hinders the teams long term planning ability. It's my belief that the best way to keep cap flexibility is have young guys who can not only be developed into stars but also young guys who can grow into a role, a role that you normally would give $6 million to for a veteran to fill. As long as Collins favors veterans and he's got a large say in personnel he is a danger to our cap situation because he will chase a championship that the team doesn't have the pieces for nor has the available cap to get those pieces.
I think Collins could learn a little lesson from this old saying: You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. I don't want him to hurt Moultrie but for the rest of the season you have to let him come out of his egg shell and see if his play turns into something delicious. Ditto for any other future draft picks we might see if Collins continues on with the team.