Bob Cooney: Sixers fans can expect changes

Doug Collins brings winning attitude, but will that translate to wins with this group?
Doug Collins brings winning attitude, but will that translate to wins with this group?
Posted: October 29, 2010

If you are a fan, there certainly aren't a lot of bright spots right now concerning the 76ers. In fact, things are looking about as dark and scary as a haunted house.

There is no real go-to stud, their inside players are better on the perimeter offensively but aren't very good defensively inside or outside the paint. Their lack of outside shooting is as glaring as the empty seats that will certainly outnumber the people occupying the stands at many home games this season at the Wells Fargo Center.

For now, the subs seem to be as good as, if not better, than the starters, and coach Doug Collins hasn't even really settled on a starting lineup yet. The backcourt, which many envisioned as being Jrue Holiday at the point and rookie Evan Turner as the shooter, will take time to materialize.

Certainly, problems abound.

Here's what seems to have changed, however.

The attitude from the Sixers' brass. Their strategy seems to have changed from "we can win with this group" to "we want to see what we have and make changes." They, meaning president Rod Thorn to general manager Ed Stefanski and on down through the front-office guys to Collins, all realize that this is not a team that they are going to try and tweak to make the playoffs. It appears they believe that a player added here or there really isn't going to make a difference.

In essence, the group of players here now is just auditioning to see if they have a future with the team when big moves simply have to be made. Additionally, they are also auditioning for other teams.

Fans will complain that Andre Iguodala is not the type of player who can lead a team. Correct. Nothing against Iguodala, as we've said many times, he's a terrific complimentary player, the best on a team that seems filled with them.

The brass and the coach know this and have said so.

Elton Brand is not the type of player fans were hoping for when he signed to that $80 million, 5-year contract in the summer of 2008. He was a 20-10 guy before then, but two serious injuries and a 31st birthday in March naturally has dwindled those numbers.

The brass and the coach know this and admit it.

Thaddeus Young, Marreese Speights, Spencer Hawes, Andreas Nocioni and Jason Kapono are among the many fill-in pieces, and they all can do an admirable job for the team at certain times. But on a club that needs so much more, again, they are just Band-Aids trying to plug bigger holes.

I leave out Lou Williams because I think he is perfectly suited for his role as a scorer off the bench, even on this team.

Which brings us to Turner and Holiday. Taking Turner with the No. 2 pick couldn't be labeled a no-brainer, because few things in sports are, especially when you're talking about draft picks. But it seemed to be the safest pick, and teaming him in the backcourt with Holiday could be a part of the foundation for when moves are made.

Only problem was, it quickly became clear that Turner liked the point-guard spot much more than the off-guard spot. And of the few things Collins was sure about after taking the job in late May, one was that Holiday would be his point guard on the court for "36 minutes" a game.

So early in preseason, it looked as though Turner would struggle for playing time. He was not absorbing the shooting-guard stuff very well and that looked like it would mean limited minutes.

Then came further proof that the brass is not playing for this year but for the future. Sure it was one game, but in the season-opener against the Miami Heat, Turner played well, scoring a team-high 16 points. He often went in for a struggling Holiday, who was on the court for just 21 minutes.

That Turner played so well was surprising. That he played so many minutes, telling. If his minutes were going to be based on how he played in the preseason, then there wouldn't be many for him.

But this kid was the second overall pick. Someone recently must have raised his hand at a meeting of the higher-ups and re-emphasized that point.

Collins will continue to tinker with lineups and rotations. Along the way, he hopes it will lead to some wins. But he has said over and over that he was brought here to evaluate talent and bring forth a winning attitude.

Collins can do that. And he probably will do it very well. Down the line, though, the winning will have to come with a boatload of different players.

The brass and the coach know that.

It's evident in the fact that the "we feel we can win with these players" quotes have been replaced with the "we're looking to see what we have" approach.

After that, of course, comes the part that hasn't been very successful that past couple of years - going out and fixing it.

Local flave

As we all know, Philadelphia has some of the most far-reaching basketball roots of any city in the country. It is hard to go anywhere or watch any game without seeing some sort of Philly flavor.

So it was pretty neat to be sitting in the recliner late Wednesday night, watching the Portland Trail Blazers playing at the Los Angeles Clippers. At one point, former Villanova star and current Clipper guard Randy Foye was shown at the foul line, looking down the lane and laughing before taking his shot. The reason? It appeared Blazer Dante Cunningham, former teammate of Foye's on the Main Line, was throwing some verbal jabs. Just to round things out, former La Salle swingman Rasual Butler was also on the court at the time for the Clippers.



vs. Atlanta Hawks (1-0), 7 o'clock

TV: Comcast SportsNet

The skinny: Guard Joe Johnson signed a 6-year, $119 million contract in the offseason to remain with the Hawks. Many thought that was way too much. See for yourself.


at Indiana Pacers (0-1), 8 o'clock

TV: Comcast Network

Radio: WIP (610-AM)

The skinny: Like the Sixers, this is another team really searching for an identity. They are led by former Sixers coach Jim O'Brien.


at Washington Wizards (0-1),

7 o'clock

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Radio: WIP (610-AM)

The skinny: No. 1 overall pick John Wall leads the Wizards in a matchup against the Sixers and No. 2 pick Evan Turner. Troubled guard Gilbert Arenas, who is nursing a sore knee, will not be suited up for the Wizards.


vs. Indiana (0-1), 7 o'clock

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Radio: WIP (610-AM)

The skinny: A week after the season opener drew more than 20,000 to the Wells Fargo Center, it will be interesting to see how many turn out for this one. With a tough early-season schedule, the Sixers will need to grab wins against teams like Indiana.


8: The number of turnovers, after two games, new Miami Heat swingman LeBron James is averaging.

4: Consecutive home openers dropped by the Sixers after Wednesday's 97-87 loss to the Heat.

13.5: That's how many points the vaunted Heat is averaging in the first quarter after two games.

.393: That's the percentage of three-pointers made against the Sixers last season - which was last in the league and a franchise worst. In Wednesday's season opener, the Sixers allowed the Heat to shoot 8-for-16 from the arc.

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