The Philadelphia 76ers story this season just might be more depressing than the Cavaliers. After beating the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, the 76ers made a big deal that they thought would speed up their rebuilding process. They jettisoned a veteran defensive specialist in Andre Iguodala, maybe the best perimeter defender in the game, a couple young first round picks, and added Andrew Bynum, a proven star, the second best center in the league to their young core of Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holliday, and Evan Turner. This is the type of deal that my article the other day advocated, and it ended up being an unmitigated disaster. One issue with trading a bunch of pieces for a major piece, is that your portfolio is no longer diversified. If the stock of the one player that you have invested in goes down, you no longer have your chips in other baskets to protect you from major loss. The 76ers shed their diversification, put their faith in Andrew Bynum, and it didn't work out.
Does this mean the Bynum deal was a bad idea in the first place? I don't know. But the 76ers example is one for Chris Grant to weigh as he combs through the comments on Fear the Sword, trying to decide if he should call up Danny Ferry and fulfill this humble blogger's plea that he be aggressive. But the matter at hand is the Cavaliers vs. the 76ers, in the here and now. Believe it or not, even though both teams are both objectively and subjectively terrible, there are some guys that could be fun to watch tonight.
For the Cavaliers, Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, and Shaun Livingston continue to try and earn paydays this summer. Tyler Zeller seems to making some actual progress. Many of us wrote the big guy off for the year, saying that he needed to bulk up before we could expect to see better results. His rebounding and scoring seem to ticking up a bit, to the point where Cavs fans are actually disappointed when he doesn't get 4th quarter minutes. I don't want us to make too much of his improvement. He still fouls at an alarming rate, and can't defend much of anyone. Coach Scott has said until Zeller is more comfortable in the post he won't leave Zeller in against small line ups to take advantage of his size. Still, his PER has gone from around 11 to 12.50 in a pretty short amount of time. It is much easier to see him as a valuable scoring big off the bench now than it was a month ago. This is good. And of course, we get the roller coaster that is Tristan Thompson. His PER seems to have leveled off in the 16.1-16.3 range. If he could get that up to 17.5 next year I would be thrilled, especially as he becomes more effective defensively.
The 76ers have All-Star point guard Jrue Holliday, who should give Shaun Livingston fits with his strength and quickness. We will see. I am a big Holliday fan, not necessarily because I like his game or him, but just because he has consistently improved since he got to the NBA. Patience is a virtue, and the steady progress is pretty cool to watch. He is still really young, and there is no reason to think he can't keep getting better. The 76ers offense is really bad as a whole, but it is hard to blame him for that. Thad Young does a bunch of really cool things, but Tristan Thompson has done a good job on him in the past. And of course, there is former Buckeye Evan Turner. I might get some heat from Ohio State nation but just remember, I have a degree from there. Turner, is not a good NBA player. He plays 35 minutes a game, has a PER of 12.87, and doesn't do anything particularly well. Is he a good perimeter defender, sure. He isn't elite, though. He still can't shoot really. His passing is not fantastic. He has bumped up his 3pt % up to 36, which is good, but not great. I still hope he makes it, but he will be 25 at the start of next season.
The other item of note for this game is that I will be covering it. This is pretty awesome. If you guys have any questions you want me to try and ask tweet me @davidzavac and I will do my best. I will be hanging out at Black Dog Cafe by the Arena from 4-6ish before heading into the game if you are around and want to stop by.