Blogs > Deitch on the 76ers

Daily Times staff writer Dennis Deitch covers the 76ers

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What the Knicks, Nets Trades Mean

Both the Knicks and the Nets have turned huge deals this week, with New York getting Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups for basically everyone on the roster not named Amaury Stoudemire and Landry Fields, and New Jersey getting Deron Williams for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two No. 1 picks (including what could be a cherry in June).

When you try to assess these deals, there's the short-term and long-term. Let's start with the short-term for both.

Let's be blunt: anyone who thinks that the Knicks or Nets are going to be instantly better from these deals for the final six weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs, should get a grip. The Knicks have upended their roster so significantly that it likely will take a month just to get any level of cohesion. And not only will it take time for Anthony and Stoudemire to adjust to the other's style of play, I wonder how well they can mesh at all. So, no, I don't think the Knicks are going to immediately surge. I still think the Sixers will pass them for the sixth seed in the East and even the Pacers could catch them for the No. 7 spot.

As for the Nets, I saw a Tweet from someone at HoopsHype saying this deal could get the Nets to 30-plus wins and make the draft pick they sent the Jazz a weak lottery selection. That's absurd. Again, Williams is going to need time to adapt to what the Nets do - and let's just say his issues with Jerry Sloan don't lead one to believe he's very easy to coach. To reach 30 wins, the Nets would have to be an above-.500 team the rest of the way. There is NO WAY that is happening. None. The Nets are an awful team, and plopping Deron Williams on the court with that sad collection of players won't do a bit of good this season.

OK, for the long-term ... the Knicks are taking a HUGE gamble that Anthony and Stoudemire are going to work well together. What might help them out is having Billups, who has a $14.2 million option for next season that I can't imagine they could turn down. The trade has decimated the roster. They have three big players and a nice potential in Fields and NOTHING after that. And before you start comparing this trio to what the Heat and Lakers have, stop. Stoudemire and Anthony play lackluster defense at best. Bottom line: How good this makes the Knicks depends on chemistry and the front office spending very smartly for tough defenders to put around these guys.

I have a feeling this is going to blow up in New York's face, basically.

The Nets? Hey, they got a truly gifted player in Williams, and that should help them in the future. But they have other big concerns: Brook Lopez has gone from a guy who looked like a potential 20-10 center in this league to someone who looks disinterested in doing any dirty work, particularly on the boards. And the roster beyond that is pretty pathetic. Deron Williams is good, but he isn't THAT good. The Nets need a lot more than that to become even a .500 team.

As for the Sixers ... neither of these players could (or should) have been on their radar. They need a center, and if Andrew Bynum isn't going anywhere, then there wasn't a star out there worth dumping half the roster to acquire.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hollinger's Darlings

If you don't know who John Hollinger is, the best way to sum up the ESPN contributor is to call him the Bill James of the NBA. If you don't know who Bill James is, he's considered the Godfather of SABRmetric stats in baseball. If you don't know what SABR is, you're going to crawl from under the rock and do a Wiki search. If you don't know what Wiki is ...

Anyway, Hollinger has devised some mathematical equations that process the value of individual players and the effectiveness of a team. While I've always had some questions about leaning too heavily on some of the SABR stats in baseball, I find that Hollinger's basketball ratings seem to be far more telling of a player's assets to the team. (And let's make something clear here: Basketball is far more of a team-oriented game than baseball, which is largely a series of man vs. man matchups - pitcher vs. batter.)

You can go here for an explanation of the team rankings, but one thing I like about them is that Hollinger accounts for how a team is playing lately. In other words, a team like the Sixers, who started 3-13 under their fourth coach in the last three years, are penalized for the slow start. The last 16 games speak far more about the way they are playing.

As of Tuesday afternoon prior to the game with the Grizzlies, the Sixers were sitting in eighth in the ratings, just behind the Dallas Mavericks (38-16) and just ahead of the New Orleans Hornets (33-23).

Eighth. It speaks to how deceiving the team's 26-28 record is at this point. According to this, the Sixers as they are playing right now are probably at the level of a 50-win team. This is a franchise that won 50-plus games once during Allen Iverson's tenure, won 50-plus games once in the past 20 years.

While there is no way they can get to 50 games this season - a 24-4 finish is asking a bit much - there can be an expectation that they will play like a 50-win team in the playoffs. And there can be an expectation that, with a year of Doug Collins under their belt and no real reason to believe there will be a great deal of personnel change, they can be a 50-win team next season.

As for Collins' reaction to Hollinger's rating, he said that he has more of an old-school statistical formula he follows (although if you hear his parameters, it actually takes into consideration a lot of Hollinger's factors), but that "I'd much rather be considered the eight-best team than 28th."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Brand vs. Stoudemire

For teams that are in close proximity and play each other a lot, the Knicks and Sixers haven't had what one would characterize as a heated rivalry. When the Sixers have been good, the Knicks have been lousy, and vice versa. The last time the teams met in a playoff series was 1978, and that was a snoozer of a four-game sweep by the Sixers.

However, when the Knicks and Sixers play two games in 40 hours this weekend, there will be a little intrigue behind the games. Granted, a battle for sixth place in the Eastern Conference isn't exactly a vision quest, but remember: The Knicks have had nine straight losing seasons and have been DYING to make themselves relevant in Manhattan again. The Sixers, meanwhile, have been among the 10-best teams in the NBA since a 3-13 start and quietly believe they have a shot to upset a first-round opponent if they can steer clear of the Celtics and Heat, who likely will be the top two seeds in the East.

The biggest game within the games, however, will involve Elton Brand and Amare Stoudemire. There has been a long history between these veterans. They had tough head-to-head battles when Brand was a Clipper and Stoudemire a Sun, and if there is any player Brand can point to as a guy who cost him All-Star appearances, it's Stoudemire. (Brand was named to the team in '02 and '06, while Stoudemire's only omission since 2005 was in '06, when he missed nearly the entire season due to injury.)

When you look at the head-to-head numbers (courtesy of, the showdowns have been pretty even. In 16 games, Stoudemire's teams have won 10 of them - although he clearly played on a higher quality team in Phoenix. Otherwise, Brand has outscored (19.8 to 19.3) and outrebounded (8.4 to 7.9) Stoudemire and has had a better field-goal percentage (54.2 percent to 50 percent). When the Sixers and Knicks played at Madison Square Garden earlier this season, Stoudemire had 21 points and 15 rebounds to Brand's 20 points and seven boards, but Stoudemire needed 18 field-goal attempts for his total compared to 11 shots by Brand, and the Sixers got Doug Collins his first win as head coach.

Collins needed Brand to bounce back physically this season after he was lead-footed and lacking hops in 2009-10, and he has been an unsung hero during the Sixers' reemergence as a playoff-quality team. While Brand probably won't be the 20-point, 10-rebound guy he was in his prime, he has been a 15-9 player for the Sixers, and that is exactly what they need from him.

If the Sixers can sweep the weekend, they will be a game behind the Knicks. And if they are to accomplish that goal, Brand will need to show that he can still go nose-to-nose with Stoudemire.