While most of the hype is surrounding the Lakers and their acquisition of Dwight Howard all while keeping Pau Gasol, the Philadelphia 76ers deserve some attention for acquiring the second best center in the league.
In an offseason that’s major headline was signing Nick Young… yes Nick Young, most Sixer fans thought this would be another offseason where nothing was done to push this team to the next level. Then the unthinkable happened and the front office got rid of Andre Iguodala, who has been on the cusp of being traded for the past 3 years, along with inept big man Nikola Vucevic, and their extremely raw first round pick Moe Harkless in exchange for Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson.
Not only did the Sixers have enough combo guards who could play the 2 or 3, but Kwame Brown was expected to be the starting center on opening day. This trade gives the 76ers a top 5 frontcourt and gives guys like Thad Young and Evan Turner some breathing room in the starting lineup.
Last season, Philly was one of the league’s most athletic teams and had the third best defense in terms of points per game. Although Iguodala was their best defender, this defense should get better with the acquisition of Bynum and J-Rich. In last season’s playoffs, KG absolutely dominated Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand when he positioned himself in the paint. With Bynum, the Sixers no longer view post-defense as a liability, but as a strength. Bynum will clog up the paint and be a defensive force, a privilege the Sixers have not had since the days of the legendary Dikembe Mutombo.
The knock on Bynum has always been his attitude and his motor, but I do not see that as being an issue in Philly. The reason Bynum’s attitude became an issue in LA was because he wasn’t getting nearly enough touches as a player of his skill set deserves. In LA, Bynum was the 2nd or 3rd option on most plays, in Philly he will be the go-to-guy, as the offense will certainly run through him. On top of getting the touches he wants, Bynum will be coached by the best player coach in the league, Doug Collins. Doug Collins is the type of coach that won’t let the team chemistry ever be an issue, and that won’t change with the addition of Bynum.
So where does this put the Sixers in the grand scheme of things? Philly should expect nothing less than a top 3 seed and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. This trade has elevated the Sixers passed the Celtics, and makes a showdown with the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals very foreseeable. While the Heat may have more firepower, the Heat cannot matchup with the point guard-center tandem of the 76ers, as I expect Jrue Holiday to take another step towards the upper echelon of point guards in the league. One thing is certain, this trade has brought a lot of excitement to the city of Philadelphia.