has been one of the lone bright spots for the Philadelphia 76ers this season.
(Photo by Keith Allison/Flickr.com)
After a playing career spent in Philadelphia, Doug Collins returned to the City of Brotherly Love when he took the Sixers’ head coaching role in May 2010. As usually happens with a Collins-coached team, he ushered in instant improvements–an additional 14 wins and a playoff berth were his rewards during his first season. Alas, the Miami Heat won in the first round of the playoffs 4-1, but signs of improvement were there. Collins was here to bring success back to the Sixers franchise.
The season after, Collins’ team outdid its previous successes. An Andre Igoudala-inspired Sixers team surprised the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls in the first round to give Philadelphia its first playoff series win since 2003. The turnover-careful, fast-break running Sixers team came ever so close to upsetting all the odds by taking the veteran Boston Celtics team all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. In the end the Celtics prevailed, but it was a good season regardless. Many felt, though, that Collins had taken that squad the furthest it could go.
Fast-forward to March 2013. Collins’ side lacks talent, creativity and leaders. On the floor, it’s only Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young that can realistically be happy with their contributions this season. As Kate Fagan and other sections of the media have pointed to, Collins’ style can often wear out players. There’s no doubt about it: He demands a lot from his players. He lives the game and knows basketball better than you and me–but perhaps it’s time to do what he does best: commentary.
It’s hard to say what would have happened should superstar center Andrew Bynum been healthy, but regardless, he isn’t the right man for this roster. The system he incorporates is far too restrictive and Collins’ teams would rather settle for a long-2and no turnover as opposed to a drive to the basket (and a possible dish or finish) with the chance of a turnover. The players seem burned out and worn out from Collins. He just doesn’t feel like a coach that is a realistic long-term investment.
How different could this season have been with Andrew Bynum healthy?
Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr.com
Another facet of his coaching which leaves little to be desired is his development of younger players. It’s important to win now in any sport, let alone in the NBA, but Collins has not used rookies enough during his time in Philly. Take Arnett Moultrie for example, who has only been given a measly nine minutes per game. Even then he has shown flashes of being an NBA player. It’s a little sample size, sure, but his per 36 minutes’ stats show him to almost be averaging a double double (11.5 points, 9.4 rebounds). Collins would rather play Spencer Hawes for 40 minutes and Kwame Brown as opposed to a young exciting talent. It is infuriating.
To conclude, the season is over for the Sixers. There’s no playoff race. I hate to be so defeatist, but it’s time to “tank.” A high draft pick could see us pick up another piece. In addition to that, an off-season move the Sixers need to make is one which sees Collins leave. He’s put Philadelphia back on the map, but he’s not the man to take this franchise forward long-term. I fear chief executive officer Adam Aron and the other executives have such a strong love towards Collins that it will take the coach himself retiring to force a change. As for replacements, any one of the Van Gundy brothers would be brilliant, as well as Brian Shaw. I respect everything Collins has done for the Sixers, I really do; he’s just not the right man for this squad.