It’s a mostly worthless task we’re told. Not worth driving yourself crazy over. Yet we all do it. We ask “What if”. But nowhere is it more fun than in sports. What if the Sixers won the NBA title over the Portland Trailblazers? What if Joe Carter didn’t hit that home run? What if Pelle Lindberg and Jerome Brown just drove safely? And recently, watching the Atlanta Hawks and their losing record take the Indiana Pacers to seven games, what would have happened if the Sixers tried to win this year?
Well, that’s a tough one, since arguably the players on the team were actually trying to win. So for this task we have to go back further. Back to what really started this whole thing. And so we ask, What if the Sixers never completed the Andrew Bynum trade?
Now, for purposes of this we can’t undo any transaction that took place before the trade. So we still have to say goodbye to “Old School Chevy” Elton Brand and “2 For” Lou Williams. And we’re still stuck with Nick Young and Kwame Brown. Sadly, this stuff we can’t change. But we have vetoed the trading of Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless for a year of Andrew Bynum’s hair and Jason Richardson and get to make judgement calls on everything else that happened since. The other thing we have to deal with is injuries and we have to take those as they happened. Remember this when we get to this season.
Side note – this is already a pretty deep well to dive into, so I’m not doing any statistical analysis. That’s a rabbit hole I will never get out of. That means this will speak in more generalities than I would like but it’s a necessary compromise.
So what would the past two seasons have looked like? We’ll answer a series of questions on each to help us decide. Part One will look at 2012-2013 and Part Two will continue with that offseason into the recently completed one.
Actual Results: 34-48, tied for 9th in the Eastern Conference.
How many more wins was Andre Iguodala worth?
The Sixers only finished four games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the 8th seed and seven behind the Boston Celtics for No. 7. You have to figure Iggy was worth at least half of those. His replacements couldn’t hold a candle to him defensively and could never act as secondary ballhandler. You also have to figure that his stature and impact on the team psychology would have been much more positive. But then again, it’s hard not to have more of a positive impact than “half afro/half cornrows” on the bench. His presence also gives the Sixers the possibility of two All Star players, with he making it the year before and Jrue Holiday making it in this season.
Would Doug Collins have realized what he had in Nic Vucevic?
It’s one of those things that we never understood about Doug Collins. Why didn’t he ever play Nic? (We got our answer to why he never played Arnett Moultrie this past season.) When he allowed him onto the court Nic performed well. And as the starting center on the Orlando Magic he was a walking double-double (which included four 20 rebound games) averaging 13-12 on the season. The best chance he would have had of getting playing time for Doug Collins was as Spencer Hawes backup. Doug’s initial plan was to start Kwame and Hawes in the frontcourt as the center/power forward combo but he quickly dropped that with Kwame’s injury. This means instead of giving double-doubles, Nic Vucevic would instead have been relegated to battling with Lavoy Allen for backup center minutes. He would have been an improvement of what they had there but his overall impact would not have nearly been what it could have been. Say he’s worth one more win.
Would Moe Harkless have made an impact?
Well, considering Doug Collins inability to put rookies on the floor it’s doubtful. However, the scouting on Harkless always seemed very Iguodala-like. Long and athletic, but not much of a shooter. Doug would have given him a two-week run, where he would have been fairly productive, only to be placed back on the bench for no reason. The real importance of having him on the team would have been whether or not he could have benefited from playing under Iggy and learning the game. He’s not an improvement on whoever was the 4th wing that year, but he’s at least an equal and we can see potential.
How do the Sixers finish?
They easily make it above the Bucks for 8th. I also think the team would have been good enough to beat out the Celtics for the 7th seed. They play the Knicks in round one, a matchup we all love and believe they can win. Iggy plays great defense on Melo. Jrue is clearly too much for Felton, Kidd, and Prigioni. The home teams win each of the first six. We really start to believe. We even think Evan Turner will help. We’re wrong. Knicks win. And thus we are stuck back into the wheel of mediocrity and perpetually looking for the ultimate silver linings.
To be continued in Part Two