Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sixers' Missing Ingredient On Team They Just Beat

Iverson needs a better center to lead the Sixers deep into the playoffs

Now that the Eagles season is officially over perhaps Philadelphia will start paying attention to the 76ers basketball squad. At a glance the Sixers seem to have all the necessary components to run away with the mostly hapless Atlantic Division and even compete a little in the playoffs before they run into the steamroller that is Detroit. Yet after last night's 111-98 win over Sacramento the Sixers are hovering just one game over .500 at 16-15.

Despite Allen Iverson having one of his best seasons ever (33.7 points per game, 7.4 assists per game and 2.23 steals per game) and a healthy Chris Webber that has been putting up some quality numbers (19.6 and 10.4 per game) the Sixers can't seem to grab the division by the throat. The Sixers even have a few solid, young role players. Andre Iguodala is explosive and is on the cusp of being as good as, if not better than, Richard Jefferson. Kyle Korver is the perimeter shooter that the Larry Brown Sixers never had and other parts of his game are improving. John Salmons is a servicable player coming off the bench. Offensively, coach Maurice Cheeks has the Sixers scoring more points per game (102.9) than everyone other than Phoenix. The team has the veteran leadership and experience of Webber and Iverson.

Miller would look great in a Sixers uniform

The one glaring void is right in the middle. I want to love Samuel Dalembert, but he's just not the presence the Sixers need in the middle. Dalembert is an amazing shot blocker (third in the league with 3.17 per game) but he also racks up a lot of personal fouls and lacks the strength the Sixers need in the low post. Dalembert is great, but I'm not convinced he's a real center.

The type of center the Sixers need is the one who put up 36 points against them last night. Brad Miller. He's not an elite center, but he's physical, he runs the court well and he is fiercely competitive. Miller's personality would fit well with the Sixers and even though he wouldn't block as many shots as Dalembert, he would give the Sixers the toughness inside that they need to be a legitimate contender in the East.

Billy King and Cheeks should make a concerted effort to coax Brad Miller from Sacramento, a team that is underachieving this year and is in serious danger of missing the playoffs. He could give the team that push that Mutumbo gave the Sixers in 2001. Otherwise, Iverson can average 40 a game and the Sixers will continue wallowing in mediocrity.

No comments: