Inside the Sixers: 76ers' talent can't be evaluated on the bench

What can rookie Evan Turner do with the ball? We won't know unless he gets more playing time than the 22 minutes he had Friday night against Miami.
What can rookie Evan Turner do with the ball? We won't know unless he gets more playing time than the 22 minutes he had Friday night against Miami.
Posted: November 28, 2010

Writing about the 76ers is a little like repeatedly reviewing bad theater.

The sum of the production isn't good, there are one or two decent scenes, and the actors try hard, but in the end your money is better spent elsewhere.

That's every week's review, always creatively disguised with varying phrases and a fresh topic sentence.

If the Sixers were a play, they would have closed a while ago.

But the Sixers aren't a play - although they produce some twisted story lines - and closing isn't an option.

So here we are, with Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas right down the road, once again discussing the pros and cons of one of the NBA's worst teams.

By now, anyone who cares to know already has a sense of what his money will buy at the Wells Fargo Center. And each fan has different reasons for remaining loyal: familial team allegiance, devotion engrained in the city's makeup, a fondness for what once was, perhaps a perverted enjoyment of pain and disappointment.

For many reasons, a few thousand people still care; there is still reason to advocate for change.

Last season in this column, we detailed the shortcomings of then-coach Eddie Jordan, who possessed a slightly more talented roster than this season's, and who entered on the heels of a playoff appearance. Last season, there was confusion and frustration, and Jordan did not come with the tag of "revamping coach," here to evaluate who is a long-term winner and who is not.

Doug Collins did come with that tag, and he's in charge of an even weaker roster - hard to believe, but true - so it's difficult to analyze his winning or losing decisions when everything is framed by a different lens.

This season, we've been told to believe that winning would be nice because it would feel so good for the guys, because it would reward them for all their hard work. Not because there is any pressing need to do so, despite a roster of $70 million, despite this team's playing in front of a paying crowd that barely justifies the cost of the lights.

This is a long-term project, and therefore short-term sacrifices must be made.

The Sixers need to stop sweeping their losses under the "revamping" carpet without conducting the research necessary to ensure future success. Essentially, if the Sixers want to use the excuse of talent evaluation for their losses, then they should start actually evaluating their talent.

Among a number of questions that need answers, here are three crucial ones:

1. Is Evan Turner a potential star, a bust, or somewhere in between?

There is absolutely no reason for Turner to play less than 28 minutes a game. And there is no reason for him to play 22 minutes, which he did Friday night against Miami, attempting only two field goals and finishing without a point. Turner is one of many Sixers who are better with the ball, but he arguably is the only one who might win games if he had it. We know what Lou Williams can do with the ball, we know what Andre Iguodala can do with the ball, and we know what Thaddeus Young can do with the ball.

With Turner, we just don't know. So let Turner go 1 for 15 if he must, let him dribble and drive his way right out of the starting lineup and the league.

Get an answer on this kid. Otherwise it really will be a losing season.

2. Can Jodie Meeks become a starting shooting guard in the NBA?

Meeks is the only true shooting guard on the Sixers' roster. Of everyone on the team, he best understands spacing, and he moves in tandem with the ballhandler - never too close to bring his defender to the ball, never too far to make himself unavailable. On Friday night, Meeks played 24 minutes and scored 21 points. He doesn't necessarily need that much time each game, but he needs a minimum of 18 minutes.

If Collins can't find the minutes elsewhere, take them from Iguodala. Iguodala doesn't need to play 40-plus minutes a game. No one is wondering exactly what uncovered wonders reside in Iguodala's game.

3. Could Craig Brackins prove to be a better version of Marreese Speights?

Aside from the concept of shooting, Speights appears to understand very little about the game. He never passes, which becomes visibly frustrating for those on the court with him; he hardly rebounds; and he doesn't provide an inside defensive presence.

Next year, the Sixers must decide whether to extend a qualifying offer to Speights, a decision identical to the one made this season regarding Thaddeus Young.

Brackins and Speights are similar in height and outside-shooting ability, with Brackins perhaps possessing greater range on his outside shot. If Brackins works well within an offense, knows how to pass and move, and can contribute on the boards, then you have completed a complementary piece of research.

To do that, Brackins needs to stay activated, and he needs to play. Perhaps not on a nightly basis, but at least every other game.

If the Sixers are going to continue to hide their bad product under the guise of conducting research on future possibilities, then it's time the understudies received more stage time.

Inside the Sixers:

Read Kate Fagan's 76ers blog, "Deep Sixer," at

Blog response of the week

Subject: Fouls, Meeks, and the 76ers


"Competition, competition breeds success. One ball 5 players. If you want minutes contribute to:

Scoring - Teams need to know you are capable of scoring from all positions on the floor.

Defense - If you can't stop someone what sense does it make to score.

Intangibles - What do you bring extra than the other guys in your spot.

If you can help you play, if you cannot then you sit, regardless of the money you are making."

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan

at 856-779-3844 or

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