New shooters give 76ers an outside chance

New 76ers Jason Richardson and Royal Ivey (right) go at it. Richardson has shown hecan score consistently from beyond the arc. YONG KIM / Staff
New 76ers Jason Richardson and Royal Ivey (right) go at it. Richardson has shown hecan score consistently from beyond the arc. YONG KIM / Staff
Posted: October 07, 2012

Doug Collins couldn't have asked for a more fitting backdrop.

Moments after watching his 76ers play a spirited scrimmage at St. Joseph's Hagan Arena that required an overtime period to settle, the coach discussed a favorite topic: spacing on the floor for his shooters.

Behind him, newly acquired sharpshooter Jason Richardson launched three-pointers, getting in some extra practice at training camp.

One key to the offense is having a big man capable of commanding a double team, drawing would-be perimeter defenders away from good shooters who are capable of making opponents pay.

In center Andrew Bynum, the Sixers feel they have that covered.

The other component is shooters, something the Sixers were woefully short of last season. They believe they have addressed the issue with the acquisition of players like Richardson, Dorell Wright, and Nick Young.

Collins estimated that the Sixers averaged about 30 points split between free throws and three-pointers last season. However, with the new weapons at his disposal, Collins wants to see a significant improvement in the combined categories this season.

"We'd like to get that to 40, plus 10 from where we were we last season," Collins said Friday. "We think we can average seven or eight threes a game, which would be huge for us."

Last season the Sixers had no real scoring threat down low. Still, Collins wanted to spread the floor early in games, so often he would have Jodie Meeks - hit-or-miss from behind the arc - on the floor to provide at least the threat of a long-range attack.

Meeks was not re-signed. Last season, he led the Sixers with 95 threes. Andre Iguodala, traded to Denver, was their most accurate long-range shooter, making 39.4 percent of his three-pointers.

But the team's new shooters have a significantly better pedigree. The 6-foot-6 Richardson has made 1,520 three-pointers in his career. An 11-year veteran, he has been particularly good from long range recently, making 39.4 percent of his threes since the 2007-08 season. That was an improvement from the 35.0 percent he hit in his first six seasons.

Only Orlando's Ryan Anderson (300) has made more threes than Wright (299) over the last two seasons. And of the three new Sixers, the 6-7 Nick Young, selected in 2007 by Washington four picks after the Sixers took Thaddeus Young with the 12th pick, has the highest career three-point shooting percentage (37.8).

Richardson, who has hit at least 100 three-pointers in each of the last eight seasons, played in Orlando last season alongside Anderson. He knows the value of knocking down shots and the ripple effect it has.

"It's going to open the game up, especially since we have a post person like Andrew," Richardson said of Bynum. "It's going to be very similar to what it was like for me playing in Orlando last year. We had Dwight [Howard] down there, and we had a number of shooters around him. When you have a team like that, it gives you a lot more room to operate down low. And if they want to double him, we are going to have shooters on the floor to space it out and knock them down."

Notes. Thaddeus Young suffered a sprained ankle that prevented him from taking part in the afternoon scrimmage. The injury is not thought to be serious; the team is listing Young as day-to-day. . . . Lavoy Allen rejoined the team after the birth of his son.


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

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