A few things we've learned about the Sixers

Posted: October 14, 2010

Five games into the preseason for the 76ers and questions are still far more plentiful than answers.

But that's exactly what coach Doug Collins expected when he took the job in May. When the product that you're looking to repair accounted for all of 27 wins last season, it really shouldn't be surprising that the blueprints have been made, thrown out, made again, and so on.

Here's what we do know a little less than 2 weeks before the Oct. 27 season opener against the Miami Heat.

* Right now, Lou Williams is the best thing going for this team.

Collins stated in the offseason that he wanted Williams to compete for a starting job. But with No. 2 pick Evan Turner in the way, that really didn't seem realistic. Williams is best suited coming off the bench and scoring points, and he has been doing that extremely well during the preseason. He is exactly what a team expects from its backup shooting guard - a real threat from the outside and an ability to break defenders off the dribble. He is also very good at finishing fastbreaks, which is something the team sorely needs to do.

* Injuries have hindered Collins' ability to figure things out.

Forward Andres Nocioni, whom the coach envisions as a 20-minute-a-game guy at either the small or power forward spots, came to camp with a severely sprained ankle suffered with Team Argentina while getting ready for the FIBA World Championships. Nocioni just got in his first practice last Friday and has played in two preseason games.

Spencer Hawes, the starting center at the beginning of training camp, has been out since the middle of the second preseason game with a sore lower back. Before Tuesday's game against Boston, Collins said Hawes could miss about 3 weeks, but also mentioned a bulging or herniated disk, which certainly doesn't sound good.

* The projected starting backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Turner may or may not happen.

When Hawes was healthy, Collins had Andre Iguodala as the starting two guard, with Turner getting minutes behind Holiday at the point - not an ideal situation for the No. 2 pick who was chosen to play the "two" spot. But since Hawes went down, Turner has stepped into the starting two spot and has shown positive signs. He is very good at going after the ball, shows flashes of being an adept passer and uses his size (6-7). He is still trying to figure out the NBA game and all of Collins' offensive and defensive schemes.

Holiday has struggled. His coach, though, is not worried - about either of his young guards.

"Here's the interesting thing about both of those guys," Collins said. "When they are both in the game together, one has to wait for the ball, the other one has to run. Both of their tendencies are to wait for the ball. One has to be out running and the other can initiate. I like that they can both handle the ball.

"I think those two are getting acclimated to each other. It's like Jrue would be a junior in college and Evan would be a senior in college. The thing about Jrue is that this is really his first year of being the point guard. Expectation is only placed on people who have talent. Expectations can either derail you or drive you to bigger things. I think Jrue is going to be lifted by expectations."

Expectations for the team aren't very high, and Collins knows it. But he has the patience, and plans, to turn that around. Probably not in time for opening night, though. This is a work in progress. *

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