PHILADELPHIA — Hey, I like a heartwarming rags-to-riches tale like anyone else, especially when it relates to Philadelphia, a passionate and proud sports town that gets ragged on mainly because it ain’t New York. But for those who swear the Sixers are now the Next Big Thing, sorry, not seeing it.
They are not the Oklahoma City of the East. More like Denver East.
Like the Nuggets, the Sixers could use a true star, however he probably isn’t on the roster. Nothing against Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams or Evan Turner, who are intriguing young talents and by all accounts well-adjusted for their age. But just a hunch here, this experience they’re getting against the Heat will not turn them into great players, simply because they lack the greatness gene. When or if the Sixers ever challenge for a championship in the professional lifetime of these three players, they’ll be passing the ball to someone else for the last shot, despite what you saw in the final amazing seconds of Game 4.
The more you see of Holiday, the more you like. He had some guts to pull up on Dwyane Wade like that and drill the 3-pointer that began a victorious rally. And Williams, he took an even tougher shot for the eventual game-winner. Plus the Sixers stayed close thanks to Turner, who rose to the occasion and produced his best performance of the series.
However, these three play roughly the same position, the swing-guard spot with Turner also getting time at small forward. They’re a good fit at those spots, but not a great fit. Holiday, for example, can shoot with range but Andre Iguodala handles the ball as much if not more. Williams is a scoring point guard, too. As for Turner, he really doesn’t have a home, which is both good and bad, and the reason coach Doug Collins spent an entire season yanking Turner in and out of the rotation.
Turner, Holiday and Williams are all solid enough to keep the Sixers from sliding down anytime soon, which means Philly won’t be grabbing any high lottery picks (read: franchise players) anytime soon. The best way to find a Blake Griffin is by being horrible enough to draft him; otherwise, teams must either get lucky in the middle or late rounds, or find such player through free agency, or through a trade. And that’s where the Sixers will have some decisions to make soon.
Do they send one of the three packing, or stay the course and most likely continue winning 40-45 games?
Trading Williams or Holiday or Turner, or even Thaddeus Young, is really their only option in the near future because nobody wants Iguodala or Elton Brand. The team’s two highest-paid players will weigh down the cap for another two years, sapping much of Philly’s financial flexibility, assuming the cap will be lowered this summer in collective bargaining. Sometimes players are more valuable to their team as bait, and all four would be wanted men on the market.
Until they cross that bridge, the Sixers should enjoy the playoff ride, even if it ends Wednesday in Miami, and they’ll always have Game 4. But a few uplifting moments against the Heat shouldn’t conceal the obvious. The Sixers need a star in order to take the next step, and just like roughly 20 of the 30 teams are finding out, he doesn’t come easy.