COMMENTARY | On Tuesday, January 8, the Philadelphia 76ers lost to the Brooklyn Nets by 20 points.
A big reason for that big loss was the rebounding difference. The Nets outrebounded the 76ers by 18. Philadelphia has had trouble rebounding the ball all season and is ranked 21st in the league in rebounds per game.
The 76ers didn't just get outrebounded by the opposing team, they nearly were outrebounded by one player on the opposing team.
Reggie Evans, a 76er in the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons, pulled down 23 boards. With 6:54 left in the third quarter, Evans' 20 rebounds was one more than the entire Philadelphia team.
Evans has averaged 6.9 rebounds per game over his career. This season, despite only starting 10 games out of 34, he has averaged 8.7 rebounds per game. That total would be the highest on the Sixers, ahead of small forward Thaddeus Young's 7.1 rebounds per game.
The 76ers have lacked an inside presence all season and that has affected the team's record.
Andrew Bynum has been injured all season. Kwame Brown has played in only 18 games this season and is pulling down only 3.5 rebounds per game. Seven-footer Spencer Hawes only has 5.9 rebounds per game. Only four players on Philadelphia have averaged more than five rebounds a game.
Making matters worse, Evans isn't the only former Sixer doing a good job on the boards.
Nikola Vucevic was a solid rookie for Philadelphia last season. In 15.9 minutes per game mainly off the bench last season he averaged 4.8 rebounds.
The promise he showed allowed him to be a part of the Dwight Howard trade that landed Philadelphia Bynum. Now as a starter for the Orlando Magic, Vucevic is averaging 10.8 rebounds per game. That total leads the Magic -- a team performing much better than expected -- and is seventh in the NBA.
Vucevic is the only player to have a higher rebound total than Evans' 23, grabbing 29 rebounds December 31 against the Miami Heat.
Elton Brand was amnestied by the 76ers in the offseason. He was claimed by the Dallas Mavericks.
The 33-year-old may have the lowest rebound and point averages of his career, but as a bench player he still is averaging 6.2 rebounds which would be third on the team.
The contributions of Evans, Vucevic and Brand would be welcomed by a team struggling in the post.
Injuries have limited what the team can do down-low and off the glass. But production needs to pick up for the team to improve in the standings. It just adds insult to injury, literally, that players they let go are playing so well.
Phil Shore lives in New Jersey and is the creator and editor of Shore Thing Sports blog. He's been published in The Boston Globe, Philly.com, FoxSoccer.com, LaxMagazine.com and New England Lacrosse Journal.
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