Doug Collins vs. Giant Tanking Sixers Octopus

Rob Carr

I recommend you just listen to The Clash on loop until the season ends.

There's a ton to talk about Sixers-wise these days. We haven't really addressed the long-reaching ramifications of the Andrew Bynum sitch, partly because the Sixers are midway through something like 12 games in 19 days and partly because I'm just not ready to talk about it yet. There's a long, emotional post to be written about the Andrew Bynum Era in Philadelphia and I'm going to do it... soon.

But in the meantime, this excellent Sean O'Connor fanpost should tide you over on Bynum thoughts. For now, I'd like to start smaller and build my way up to the heavier stuff.

Doug Collins should not be coaching this team anymore. The organization is either in shambles or in significant turmoil, depending on who you ask, and the chain of command is about as mangled as it gets. A fresh start with a coach picked by GM Tony DiLeo, whose managerial leanings we really know nothing about, and a team maximizing talent is all we can hope for next season.

For this season, though, what's best for the franchise? Because that's what we're talking about here. I don't care about Doug Collins as a person or the morale of Sixers' players. I care about winning a championship and the only way they're going to do that is by acquiring assets. The best way to get those assets is via the draft. Best way to have the best chance at drafting the player they want is by having a better pick. Best way to get a better pick: losing games.

Though they're currently slotted in the 11-spot in May's Draft Lottery, they're only 4 games ahead of the Wizards currently in the hole at 3rd, the same Wizards who just beat them and have won 8 of their last 12. That's a lot of teams separated by just a few games there. With the right amount of tanking, the Sixers could very well find themselves in the top 5.

So if we can agree that, however painful it may be for your precious eyes, losing games is best for the franchise and we're all aboard the Tanking Express, what should the Sixers do? I don't think there's a chance that they fire Doug Collins in-season -- more bad publicity for a team that can write a 10-part epic on Bad Publicity -- but should they? Let's look at the facts.

  • The team has an 11-26 record since mid-December, including three stretches where they lost at least five games in a row, one of which included a 4-game skid where they lost by 18 or more points in each game.
  • To say Doug Collins is at the end of his rope assumes he has any rope at all. Both he and the team are objectively frustrated, evidenced by the Sixers' lack of effort in the Orlando game and Doug's subsequent press conference where, while smiling, he threw his team under the bus.
  • This is Doug's third season in Philadelphia. In his three previous coaching gigs, he has never coached his team into a fourth season.
  • After trading a future first round pick for Arnett Moultrie, Doug Collins has played him just 196 minutes this season and only one game in which he got over 25 minutes. Kwame Brown: 269 minutes. Damien Wilkins: 386 minutes. Lavoy Allen: 1,344 minutes. Spencer Hawes: 1,502 minutes.

A very large part of me wants Doug gone because I hate the way he coaches and this season has frustrated me to no end. The Moultrie issue, while minor in the long run, just further illustrates Doug's failures as a coach and, unfortunately, de facto GM. I want Doug out and Moultrie getting 25+ minutes per game each night.

On the other hand... Doug's team keeps losing. And if we want them to keep losing (we do, we really do), maybe playing Moultrie gets in the way of that. Maybe swapping Doug for interim coach Michael Curry will give them a postpartum surge of crippling wins. Maybe just what this team needs is to continue imploding in a fire of 18-footers and Hawes 40-minute games. It's all about the balls, after all.

As long as Doug's out before they make a decision on Bynum, I'll be happy. But is he more likely to coach them into the ground now or coach them into scraping a few more wins than they'd have otherwise? You tell me.

And here's a very interesting few questions and answers from relatively new Sixers hire and founder of Basketball Value Aaron Barzilai via Tom Sunnergren of TrueHoop conducted at this year's Sloan Sports Analytic Conference.

Q: There's a perception that the Sixers don't value analytics.

A: I don't feel like I'm there just to be there, so they can talk to the media and say, "We value analytics." I definitely feel that they're interested in hearing what I have to say, and my contributions and my input are going to be a contributor to our decisions.

Q: How is working with Doug Collins?

A: Different people absorb information in different ways. I think that Doug Collins is an incredibly sharp guy who knows a ton about basketball. I think that part of my job is to understand how to give him the information he's looking for in a way that's easily digestible. ... What you really you need to do is boil it down to what's important.

Q: The Sixers shoot more midrange jump shots, the least efficient shots in the game, than any team in the sport.

A: The No. 1 thing affecting our situation this year is the absence of Andrew Bynum.

Q: How does information get from your head to the basketball court?

A: Everything filters through the coaching staff. If Coach Collins is encouraging someone to do something, I can't be whispering in the other ear, "Don't." The message has to be consistent. These are the shots we want, this is how we're playing the pick-and-roll, this is the rotation. It needs to be simple and easy to remember, especially in split seconds when the players are out there making these decisions under pressure.

Love the answer to Question #3.

Tankadelphia, y'all.

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