Doug Collins: Sixers now a power team

"Now we are a big lineup that has added shooting," said 76ers head coach Doug Collins. Eight players are new to the team.
"Now we are a big lineup that has added shooting," said 76ers head coach Doug Collins. Eight players are new to the team. (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: September 30, 2012

If the NBA championship were determined by what teams do during the offseason, the 76ers, with their impressive moves, would have the look of a contender.

The reality, though, is that the pieces must fit together; growing pains must occur. For the Sixers, who return just one-third of the players from a team that came within just one victory of reaching the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in 11 seasons, that process begins on Tuesday, when the revamped Sixers open training camp at St. Joseph's University in preparation for the 2012-13 season.

Over the next month Sixers coach Doug Collins and his staff will try to mold the Sixers, who can carry 15 players, into a team that, on paper at least, has the potential to reach the Eastern Conference finals. The Sixers play their first of six preseason games Oct. 11 when they travel to Orlando. Collins will use those games to decide on a starting five that has three players - point guard Jrue Holiday, small forward Evan Turner, and Andrew Bynum - already penciled in.

What might be the bigger challenge is getting all of the new faces to fit into a new playing style markedly different from the way the Sixers played in recent seasons. Of the 13 players signed to contracts, eight are new to the team.

"Obviously we become a power team," Sixers coach Doug Collins said shortly after Bynum was acquired from the Lakers. "We went from an undersized team that two years ago went from a front line with Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young. Now we are a big lineup that has added shooting.

"We've got a lot of new faces, but the good news is that this year we're going to have a real training camp," said Collins, referring to the lockout-shortened training camp of last season. "That is going to make a big difference in putting the pieces together."

The Sixers unencumbered themselves from the stifling $32 million they would have owed Andre Iguodala and Brand, players whom Collins said the Sixers had "maxed out" with. And they let their leading scorer, reserve guard Lou Williams, walk in free agency. Had those three returned, the Sixers would have been over the luxury tax limit and probably would have had lower expectations.

They have been replaced by Bynum, 24, a 280-pounder conservatively listed at 7 feet, who instantly becomes the best Sixers big man since Hall of Fame center Moses Malone played here almost three decades ago. They added Jason Richardson, 31, a veteran shooter who in 11 seasons has made more than 1,500 three-point shots and started in 794 of the 805 games he appeared in. They have filled out the roster with players such as Dorell Wright, Nick Young, Royal Ivey, and Kwame Brown.

"Looking back we have always had a plan," new general manager Tony DiLeo said last week. "The first stage was acquiring those assets and developing them. Then, when the opportunity came along to go after an impact or a star player, we did that. So we made the trade for Andrew Bynum, who we feel we can build around because he impacts both the offense and the defense."

Collins and DiLeo have spoken liberally this offseason about the growth they expect to see in Holiday, Turner, Spencer Hawes, Young, and Lavoy Allen from playing alongside Bynum, and because the team has added shooters and become longer and more athletic than it was last season.

Bynum, who averaged 18.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game last season, returned from Germany last week, where his knees were successfully treated with a noninvasive, pain-reducing procedure, DiLeo said.

Rookie forward Arnett Moultrie, who sprained his left ankle while auditioning for teams prior to the draft, had a slow recovery this summer from the injury but is expected to be fine. That is the extent of the Sixers' injury concerns.

"We're ready to get started," DiLeo said. "We are big. We are a better-shooting team. We are excited to be starting."


Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com. Follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer. Read his blog, "Deep Sixer," at www.philly.com/deepsixer

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