I’m sure when the Philadelphia 76ers traded Andre Iguodala and Moe Harkless to end up with Andrew Bynum, they didn’t envision being seven games under .500 halfway through the season.
They probably also didn’t imagine that Bynum would miss that first half of the season.
Well with Bynum getting closer and closer to returning the hardwood, and Jrue Holiday emerging as one of the best point guards in the Eastern Conference, push is getting closer to shove, and it seems we’re about to find out what this Sixers team is really made of.
Expectations were pretty high for Doug Collins’ crew before it was known that Bynum wouldn’t be suiting up to start the season, as not only did the Sixers add a center, but they added three deadly outside shooters in Jason Richardson, Dorell Wright and Nick “Swaggy P” Young to the mix as well.
“We would like to establish that paint,” said Collins prior to the start of the season, unhappy with his team neglecting the post last season. “And if you play inside out, it creates so many opportunities.”
Opportunities for three of the 2011-12 season’s top 26 three-point shooters (by means of made threes). Those opportunities aren’t only created by Bynum – who is already the Eastern Conference’s best low post scorer, despite not having played a game this season – but by Holiday, who’s currently fourth in the league with 8.9 assists per game.
Holiday, who has also been a scoring machine (averaging a career best 19.4 points per game), has been the biggest beneficiary in the Sixers trading Iguodala, as Collins wanted his point guard to be handling the ball more than he was in the past.
Now we just have to see this team stay healthy. It’s been an up-and-down season so far – with more downs – as not only has Bynum missed a significant amount (all) of games, but Richardson has been hurt as well, and Wright hasn’t been able to get going so far.
The return of Bynum should not only make life easier on Holiday, but should get Philadelphia’s outside shooters some better looks, and even unleash 7-foot-1 forward Spencer Hawes, as he too is an above average jump shooter.
It’s all a moot point until it comes together on the basketball court, but all of the preseason hype about the Sixers was pretty justifiable if you look up and down their potential roster, and they have the shooters to make opposing defenses pay for doubling their near healthy big man.
For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth