In one offseason, the Lakers have gone from Kobe Bryant swan song to incredibly dangerous. In adding Steve Nash (who is one hell of an upgrade from Ramon Sessions), the Lakers were viewed the same way the Celtics were viewed in ’08 before adding Kevin Garnett to Paul Pierce and a freshly-signed Ray Allen.
The engineer of the Dwightmare finally has a new home, and it feels like this has all happened before. Wasn’t there a Superman traded to Los Angeles from Orlando before…? Anyway, the Lakers somehow held onto Pau Gasol and the artist formerly known as Ron Artest through all of this, and now have a lineup that resembled Year 2 of a 2K Franchise.
What does this all have to do with the Sixers, you ask? A couple months ago, I discussed with Philly Will (Phlight School’s official DJ) that the Sixers had the assets to trade for Dwight, and this was before they drafted Moe Harkless out of St. John’s University with the 15th overall pick in the most recent NBA Draft. I almost punched my television when the Sixers selected him, but with most Sixers moves, I felt like the other shoe hadn’t dropped yet. Not to mention that almost the ENTIRE fanbase has tired of the much-improved Andre Iguodala (who improved a little too late to save his Philly career), and you have the recipe for “the flip”, to put it in hood terms. Here’s the entire trade:
Lakers receive: Dwight Howard
Magic receive: Al Harrington, Nik Vucevic, Moe Harkless, 3 first round picks
Nuggets receive: Andre Iguodala
Sixers receive: Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson
On the surface, this trade looks like the rare time when every team wins. The Lakers re-established their title hopes, the Nuggets get an All-Star to lead their young, talented team – and the Magic receive three first round picks with two recent first rounder’s in Vucevic & Harkless with which to rebuild their franchise.
However, this trade solidifies the entire Sixers’ offseason.
Many of us scratched our heads when the Sixers let Lou Williams & Jodie Meeks go in favor of Nick Young & Royal Ivey. Then, Spencer Hawes was re-signed when there were better options in free agency, such as Jordan Hill, Luis Scola, etc. The fan base nearly rioted when Kwame Brown was signed and officially deemed the starting center by head coach Doug Collins. It seemed like the Sixers, after an extremely promising season that saw them come with five minutes of the Eastern Conference Finals, were taking an inexplicable step backward.
Then, in what seemed like an instant, the Sixers FINALLY made the big trade everyone was waiting for.
In Andrew Bynum, the Sixers have a dominant low-post presence with a reliable jumper out to 18 feet, as well as elite defensive tools to be a terror around the basket. However, the task with Bynum has never been talent, but maturity. And Collins will certainly whip him into shape in that department.
However, see what Bynum’s addition does to the rest of the lineup – Hawes, who was vilified after re-signing, now no longer has the task of being the banger down low. He can step out of the paint and play his face-up game, where he is most effective. Where size used to be an issue, now there is none. Bynum and Hawes – and Brown, for that matter – are legitimate seven footers. This also allows Thaddeus Young to play a more perimeter role, which is the next step to him becoming a legitimate star. And let’s not forget the newly-minted “KG Stopper” Lavoy Allen, who will undoubtedly be the first big man off the bench.
Insert “proud Temple alum” statement here. TUMF. Let’s continue.
The Sixers’ other new player, the uber-athletic Jason Richardson, will start at small forward. He is no longer the player that wowed us in the dunk contest so many years ago, but he is a much more complete player now and provides the Sixers with even more outside shooting. He is also a very capable defender, which helps soften the blow of losing an Olympic-proven defender in Iguodala. This was also the reason the Sixers signed Ivey back. Backcourt defense. Something that neither Lou nor Jodie provided. Ever.
Evan Turner is now the emotional leader of this team. Bynum comes in known as a knucklehead, and the elder statesmen in Iguodala and since amnestied Elton Brand are gone to different teams. It will be up to Turner to fulfill his promise and become the Swiss Army Knife that the Sixers drafted him to be. If last year was any indication of things to come, it’s only a matter of time before Evan nails down that role. With Lou, Meeks and Iggy out of the way, Turner can spend the majority of time on the ball, where he is most effective.
This brings us to Jrue Holiday. One of the young studs of the NBA, his assist-to-turnover ratio was horrid last year, which led to him playing more off the ball. Now he can concentrate solely on scoring first and passing second, which is what’s best for his game until he matures as a passer. With Allen, T. Young, N. Young, Brown and rookie Arnett Moultrie off the bench – the Sixers look to make a LOT of noise this season.
As Sixers fans, we sit by and watch as other teams swing blockbuster deals, select superstars in the draft, and take risks to improve their squad. Not this time! Now all that remains is to see this team in action. This is the best roster since Allen Iverson led Philadelphia to the Finals.
I know I’m excited. Are you??