COMMENTARY| Still floating around the consciousness of NBA fans despite the 2013 NBA Finals being under way, and the 2013 NBA draft just around the corner, are rumors about head coaching vacancies. These reports are particularly of interest to those who happen to being following a team whose season was over in December. I happen to be covering such a team. The 76ers are reportedly looking around patiently for a replacement to Doug Collins, who stepped down after three seasons of early playoff exits. Rumors have shed some light on Philadelphia's thinking in regards to filling that vacancy with Indiana assistant Brian Shaw and Philadelphia assistant Michael Curry being brought up. Michael Curry was even endorsed by 76ers star point guard Jrue Holiday. I respect Holiday's opinion, but I'm not exactly thrilled with the prospect of Michael Curry at the helm. Especially after his disastrous stint in Detroit. That aside, I've narrowed down three things the new coach must do next season in order to help the 76ers move forward and not repeat past mistakes.
1. Give your rookies a chance
This issue has plagued the Sixers dating back to Larry Brown's tenure with the team. Excluding Allen Iverson, Jrue Holiday, and Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia hasn't made great use of its young players. After choosing Larry Hughes over Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki in the 1998 NBA draft, in what was the best decision since Bill Gates launched Microsoft, Hughes was given a rather short leash. After forming an intriguing 1-2 punch with Allen Iverson, mainly as the recipient of high flying alley-oops, Hughes was unceremoniously shipped off. He would eventually become a key part of an impressive core with Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antwan Jamison on the Washington Wizards. Last year, Collins barely gave Nikola Vucevic a chance, and then he was traded off as a spare part in the Dwight Howard deal that netted the 76ers Andrew Bynum. Fresh draft pick Maurice Harkless was also included in that deal. They both had promising seasons in Orlando, particularly Vucevic who emerged as one of the best rebounders in the NBA, notching a team record 29 boards in a two point overtime loss to the defending champion Miami Heat. New coach, please draft well, and actually give them minutes. You never know what you have if they only play during garbage time.
2. Encourage Jrue Holiday to attack the basket
Jrue Holiday made great strides last season, but Philadelphia cannot afford for him to plateau. He needs to address perhaps his biggest weakness: free throw attempts. We often forget that Holiday is quite a physical specimen. He's 6'4 and weighs over 200 pounds, in addition to possessing decent athleticism. Holiday has a lot of favorable matchups when opposing point guards defend him, but he rarely takes advantage. Holiday, despite his breakout season, only got to the line 3.3 times per game, and is only getting to the charity stripe 2.2 times per game for his career. He often settles for mid-range jumpers, or floaters. He needs to avoid these kind of shots more than Amanda Bynes needs to avoid Twitter. Holiday should be getting to the line 5-6 times per game. Attacking the paint puts more pressure on the defense, and with his size he should be able to see over the defenders to make passes to open shooters.This is the next step in Holiday's development and the new coach needs to make sure he stays on Holiday about doing this.
3. Figure out what to do with Evan Turner
I was a big fan of Evan Turner in college: not so much in the NBA. When Philadelphia had the 2nd overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft, I was hoping they'd take a big man, because between Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, they had enough athletic swingmen with shaky jump shots. Plus there was a wealth of big men available that year. The most notable were Greg Monroe, Demarcus Cousins, and Derrick Favors. However, the 76ers passed on all of them to grab Turner, which kind of made sense if they were going to trade Iguodala, but then they kept him too. Logic at work. Now that Andre's gone, Turner still doesn't fit in. His jump shot showed some improvement, though not enough to be consistently respected by the opposition. For the season he was 36% from deep, but on only 1.9 attempts per game. He also didn't do enough off-ball cutting. Turner still longs for his time at Ohio State when the offense ran through him. Well with Jrue Holiday at the point, and Andrew Bynum possibly sticking around down low, that won't be an option. If Philadelphia doesn't trade him, the next coach needs to help Evan Turner fit alongside Jrue Holiday. That means a summer of shooting corner threes and improving his defense.
Depending on how the offseason goes, the new coach could be presiding over a playoff or lottery team. Either way, he should take the above guidelines into account in order to get the most out of the roster.
Ian White is a Yahoo! Contributor and freelance copy editor living in Philadelphia, PA. He's been cheering and cringing at 76ers games for nearly 20 years.
Follow Ian on Twitter@ATrueCynic
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- Jrue Holiday
- Andre Iguodala
- Michael Curry