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Predicting the Sixers Future

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Many of the Sixers young pieces are highly regarded within the fan base, to say the least. Ask a Sixers fan and he'll tell you that Andre Iguodala is the best perimeter defender in the NBA. He'll also tell you that Jrue Holiday is a future Hall of Famer, and Thaddeus Young is destined for 12 All Star games. Not even I have been immune to this overate-itis. But does a team with a 13-28 record really have that much talent?

First, I'll address the elephant in the room. Most feel that the coach who shall not be named is that bad and has that much of a negative effect on a talented roster. There's really no evidence to dispute this idea. I'm sure you've heard -- the roster was good enough to make the playoffs the past two years, they gave the higher seed run for their money, and have only improved since then -- at least that's the consensus in Sixers Nation. Do I think with the right system and one or two more pieces the Sixers could be a borderline championship contender? Maybe. But for the time being I want to project the "Big Five" as objectively as I can, and make predictions on how their careers will turn out. Keep in mind, these are my predictions. You can either agree or disagree. If you disagree strongly, please, post your own predictions. The idea is to get Sixers fans to take off the rose-colored glasses for a second and re-evaluate the talent on the roster.

Jrue Holiday

It's difficult to evaluate a kid (I can say that because he's younger than me) who's played a total of 538 NBA minutes, but anyone who watches Jrue on a regular basis knows he can defend. I'm not ready to call him great, but he's defended well when given a chance. There's something to be said about a 19 year old coming into the league wanting to defend. During an era of prima donas and "All Stars" being "All Stars" because they score 20 points a game, Jrue is a true throwback to the days of defense and The Secret. Keep in mind he's the youngest player in the League. Along with defense, Jrue provides a basketball IQ beyond his years. He has natural court vision and he's a pretty good passer. Add that to his NBA-ready body at 19 and his ability to rebound, and Jrue has a bright future ahead of him. However; his skills are still very raw and I'm not sure he'll ever be more than an average scorer. Here are my predictions for Mr. Holiday:

Career average: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals

All Star Selections: 1 or 2

All-NBA Teams: 0

All-Defense Teams: 1 or 2

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Lou Williams

Lou Williams is a poor man's Allen Iverson. Just like Iverson, he's a gambler on defense, but can't keep his man out of the paint. But unlike Iverson, Lou's offense will never be good enough to atone for his terrible defense. Sure, Lou might have some seasons where he averages 20+ points per game as a starting point guard, but it won't be for a championship team. Five years into his career it's obvious he can score at this level, but he has very little ability to run an NBA offense and he's a terrible defender. If he doesn't play defense now, he never will. As they say, "You either have it or you don't," and I don't think Lou has the point guard gene. The only way he will be able to help a legitimate contender is by providing 20 or so minutes of instant offense off the bench. 

Career average: 13 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal

All Star Selections: 0

All-NBA Teams: 0

Sixth Man of the Year: 0 or 1

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Andre Iguodala

This one's a tough because I feel like Andre Iguodala would be doing great things if he was on a team with Kobe, D-Wade or a player of that caliber. Andre is destined to be a second or third banana on a championship team. Unfortunately, he's stuck being the Sixers numero uno. For a guy who turns 26 in less than a week the future doesn't look bright unless he's magically paired up with a superstar, whether it be John Wall via the draft or traded to a team like Dallas or Cleveland for expiring contracts. The reason I bring up his age is because he relies on his athleticism for most of the things he does on a basketball court. The Sixers have him locked up until he's 30-31, and odds are he won't even resemble the player he is now when he's 31 years old. By then he might take the Shawn Marion route and sign with a contender for the mid-level -- a shame in my opinion because he'd be the perfect sidekick to a superstar right now. Who knows, his game has developed so much since his rookie year, he might find a way to prolong the prime of his career, but he'll never win a championship as the main guy.

I spent all this time feeling sorry for the guy that I forgot to mention why he'd be such a good sidekick. He's a great perimeter defender, he's a great rebounder for his size, he's a good passer, his ball-handling is underrated, he has good court vision, he's fantastic in transition, and he's a decent jump-shooter as long as it's an open look. If he's the second best guy on your team you're in pretty good shape, and if he's the third best guy, you're in great shape!

Career average: 17 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals

All Star Selections: 3 or 4

All-NBA Teams: 0 or 1

All-Defense Teams: 2 or 3

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Thaddeus Young

I was never the biggest fan of Thaddeus and I'm not going to predict big things from him. In my eyes, he's the small forward version of Lou Williams. He doesn't have a real position and he can't do anything besides score. Yes, he's young, but I've seen no evidence to make me think he's going to be anything more than an average player in this league. He's not great at creating offense for himself. He gets a lot of his points on broken plays and in transition. He does have a nifty post game, but it's only effective some of the time. I expect him to improve as he gets older, and he might join Lou on the "I can score 20 points per game on a crap team" team, but he can't rebound, defend, or pass. Like Lou, he's not a good enough scorer to start or get starter's minutes on a good team.

Career average: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal

All Star Selections: 0 or 1

All-NBA Teams: 0

Sixth Man of the Year: 

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Marreese Speights

Speights comes from the school of Lou and Thad where he can score well, but it doesn't make up for his bad defense. Out of the three I think Speights has the most potential, but again, unless he averages 30 points in his prime, his lack of defense will end up doing him in. In the sports world you hear the phrase, "This guy gets it!" Well, in Speights case I don't think he "gets it" at all. At the Summer League this summer, I managed to ask a guy who is highly regarded in terms of evaluating NBA talent what he thought of Mo Speights. He replied, "He has all the talent in the world, but is dumb as bricks."

Speights can't play defense or box out. He's a talented scorer, but doesn't take smart shots. He's shown solid court vision and passing ability for a big man, but he'd much rather shoot over a double team. He might be able to start on a championship team, but only if he's partnered with another big man who can defend the paint and rebound with the best of 'em -- ala Dwight Howard.

Career average: 17 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 block

All Star Selections: 0 or 1

All-NBA Teams: 0

Sixth Man of the Year: 

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I've realized the talent on the Sixers roster isn't as sexy as I once believed. Sure, under a coach who stresses defense, defense, defense they might be able to push 40 wins, but they'd never be a championship contender. And after watching last night's Blazers/Sixers game I'm beginning to think that I underestimated the loss of Andre Miller. I forgot he had the ability to take over games. I forgot about his ability to run an offense. I forgot how good of rebounder he was. People forget the Sixers were 6-19 when he showed up in 2006 and finished 29-28. Was he the main reason the Sixers were halfway decent the past two and a half years? We'll never know for sure. We do know the Sixers were 6-19 before Miller and are now 13-28 after Miller. The past two and a half years with Miller? 110-111.