COMMENTARY | Expectations were very high for the Philadelphia 76ers coming into the 2012-2013 season.
After a surprise run in the playoffs the year before coupled with the team's involvement in the biggest trade in the NBA this summer, which brought the team a potential franchise center, the fans were excited for another deep playoff run from Philadelphia.
Things quickly fell apart, however, and after a 4-11 month of December, the 76ers had dug themselves a hole too deep to escape for the rest of the season.
With the season over and no playoff appearance, it's time t examine what went wrong for the 76ers.
No Andrew Bynum
It's easy to say things fell apart for the Philadelphia 76ers as soon as Bynum was unable to play at the start of the season. The team was assembled with Bynum being the centerpiece and everyone to work around him and his strengths. By the looks of things, Jrue Holiday at the point would drive to the basket and dump the ball to Bynum. Bynum would be able to shoot from the post or if the defense collapsed on him he could kick it out to shooters like Evan Turner, Nick Young, Jason Richardson and Dorrell Wright.
Without Bynum in the middle there wasn't a consistent post presence that would require extra defensive attention and create space for shooters on the kick out.
Without Bynum, the 76ers also struggled off the glass and to protect the rim.
Not only did his injury prevent him from being a presence on the court but he was also a bit of a distraction. All season the question was when or if Bynum would return. Not having him became an excuse for a lack of success. When the trade deadline came around it was a possibility Philadelphia could've moved Bynum's contract. Bynum was the discussion all season and as the year went on, the discussion turned more and more negative and that can be distracting to a team, especially a relatively young one like Philadelphia was.
The Bynum trade was a gamble and turned into a disaster for at least the 2012-13 season.
No depth at point guard
Jrue Holiday had a strong season, justifying his large contract extension at the start of the season. He led the Eastern Conference in total assists and earning his first All-Star selection. Holiday led the team in minutes per game (37.5) and was tied for 11th in the NBA in that same category.
But it was slim picking when Holiday wasn't on the court. This season the 76ers tried backing up Holiday with Royal Ivey, Charles Jenkins, Maalik Wayns, Shelvin Mack and Jeremy Pargo. Only Pargo, Ivey and Jenkins averaged more than 10.0 minutes per game and Pargo led all those players with 4.9 points per game and 2.0 assists per game. Ivey topped them in shooting percentage, shooting .431 from the field (with the exception of Mack, who went 1-2 from the field in four games with Philadelphia).
The point guard is supposed to be the leader of the team. While it would be extremely difficult to back up Holiday with a player of a similar skill set, the drop off was rather large. A better back-up point guard would also keep Holiday fresh, as he seemed to struggle in the last month of the season. He averaged a season-low 12.7 points per game in the month of April as well as a season-low 4.2 assists. He had zero double-doubles in April.
Lack of chemistry
One thing that seemed evident in the Philadelphia 76ers' run in the playoffs in 2011-12 was that the team really rallied around each other. Falling one game short of the Eastern Conference Finals, the 76ers worked hard and seemed to work well as a unit together.
Then management blew everything up in the offseason. The team jettisoned starters Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, as well as role players Louis Williams, Jodie Meeks and Nikola Vucevic. All those players have played prominent roles for their new teams this season.
Of the 15 total players on the team's roster at the end of the 2012-13 season, 10 were not on the team last year. With new players and injuries the team could never truly gel.
Lack of consistent production from Spencer Hawes
Looking at the stats, Spencer Hawes had the second-highest point and rebound averaged per game of his career this year. In this case however, the numbers don't tell the entire story.
Hawes started 29 of 37 games last season. This season he started only 40 of 82. Playing 82 games means that injury wasn't the reason he didn't start. Nor was it because Andrew Bynum was blocking his way. Hawes, especially early in the season, could not cement himself as the best post option, even deferring to Kwame Brown early in the season.
In 34 games, Hawes didn't reach double-digit point totals. He was the tallest player on the team, yet the six-foot-eight-inch forward Thaddeus Young was the team's leading rebounder. He also had his lowest field-goal percentage (.464) since his rookie season.
He would routinely go from strong game to dud, like when he posted 21points on .529 percent shooting to go with 14 rebounds against the Orlando Magic to scoring six points and shooting .231 percent from the field two nights later against the Indiana Pacers.
The 76ers needed a strong post presence this season and Hawes failed to make his mark.
The saying is "defense wins championships". It's true, a good defense is very important in order to be an elite team. But you can't win games if you don't outscore your opponent. Scoring did not come easily for the 76ers.
The team finished tied for last in points per game (93.2). Philadelphia finished 22nd in the league in shooting percentage (.444).
Despite being an All-Star, Jrue Holiday had the worst shooting percentage of his career, as did Evan Turner and Jason Richardson. Spencer Hawes and Dorrell Wright had their worst shooting percentages since their rookie seasons.
With so many players missing so many shots, and with the team struggling to rebound well without Bynum or a consistent Hawes, it's no surprise the 76ers lost more games than they won.
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.
- Sports & Recreation
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Andrew Bynum
- Jrue Holiday
- Spencer Hawes