The Philadelphia 76ers were not supposed to be this bad this season. After the Sixers finished the shortened 66-game 2011-2012 NBA season with a 35-31 record and the eighth seed in the playoffs and knocked out top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round, there were signs that the young Sixers squad would break out and become contenders in the East for years to come. Then something went terribly wrong.
The Sixers decided to gamble on the health of Andrew Bynum in exchange for the steady, consistent play of Andre Iguodala, and it’s been downhill ever since. Bynum has yet to play a single minute for the Sixers and without the player that was supposed to be a huge part of their offense the Sixers have tumbled to a 22-34 record through 56 games this season and on their way back to the NBA lottery. The Sixers disappointing play has even led to head coach Doug Collins to question his team’s desire to play. When you inspire someone as positive as Coach Collins to sound defeated, you know things are pretty bad in Philadelphia.
The Sixers major problem this season has been effort. Despite an All-Star season from third-year point guard Jrue Holiday, the Sixers haven’t had a consistent second option all season. This was supposed to be the year former number two overall pick Evan Turner blossomed into a star, but Turner has struggled to find his rhythm while playing alongside Holiday. And shooters that the Sixers signed to knock down open threes have been abysmal with Sixers lacking an inside presence (Bynum) to command a double team from opposing defenses.
The Sixers will be faced with some tough decisions this off-season. Bynum will be an unrestricted free agent seeking a max contract, so the Sixers will have to decide if they are willing to gamble their cap space for the enigmatic center or let him walk and be another team’s issue. Doug Collins sounds like he’s fed up with coaching the young team, so it may be wise for the Sixers to cut their losses, admit the Bynum risk was a failure and focus their off-season moves on building around Holiday. That might give the Sixers the best chance of being competitive again in two or three seasons.