Inside the Sixers: 76ers still have a problem at shooting guard

Posted: February 11, 2013

The loss of shooting guard Jason Richardson for maybe a year amplifies the problems the 76ers have had at this position for more than half a decade.

Since dealing Allen Iverson to Denver in December 2006, the Sixers have used, among others, Kevin Ollie, Rodney Carney, Willie Green, and Jodie Meeks at shooting guard, sometimes farcically.

They've tried Andre Iguodala - clearly out of position - for stretches. Undersize Lou Williams spent time there, and for the better part of the last two seasons fans cringed watching Meeks.

When the Sixers drafted Evan Turner in 2010 with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, the hope was that Turner would eventually become a 20-points-per-game shooting guard and solve the problem. But flash forward to 2013: Turner is playing small forward.

Richardson has had an outstanding career, one that has seen him average 17.3 points on 44 percent shooting. Dating back to 2004-05, only Ray Allen has made more than the 1,238 three-pointers Richardson began the 2012-13 season with.

But the problem is that the Sixers, with their young core, need the Richardson of about six or seven years ago, not the 32-year-old who is creeping up on almost 30,000 minutes played for his career.

Richardson is due $6.2 million next season and has a player option at $6.6 million the following season, when he'll be 34. Don't be surprised if at some point the Sixers and Richardson start discussing a buyout. Richardson's best years are clearly in the rearview mirror.

The player who stands to benefit the most from this is Nick Young. Signed to a one-year deal at $6 million, Young, drafted with the 16th overall pick in 2007, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. So basically the final 34 games of the regular season amount to an audition for his next contract.

Young has averaged 15.8 points since moving into the starting lineup seven games ago. Heading into Saturday's game against Charlotte, owner of the worst record in the league, the Sixers had won four of their last six games. Before Young began starting, the Sixers needed 14 games to win four.

I'll take Young over any number of the guys who have masqueraded as shooting guards here since Iverson left the first time. But that says more about that group of players than it does about Young.

He is streaky and at times one-dimensional. While he's very athletic, he's not the type of player who can take his man off the dribble, penetrate, and get to the basket, something the Sixers had with Lou Williams but have been mostly without since they dealt Iverson.

It's not certain the Sixers have given up on Turner as their two-guard of the future. Though he is starting, Turner would prefer to be in the backcourt, not at small forward, but he's being a good soldier and playing there.

Whatever the Sixers do, they need to upgrade the position quickly - whether they do it internally or externally.


 

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