Tag Archives: Jrue Holiday

Your 2018 Eastern Conference Champions…

This article is dedicated to myself for giving my heart and soul to the Sixers even though I’ll be getting nothing in return for a couple years. Also, to the recently released Sixer Chris Johnson, because we all know he never had a shot…pour one out for the homie.

Flashback to Draft Night 2013

The Philadelphia 76ers are coming off an abysmal and disappointing season which ended in the firing of head coach/broadcaster extraordinaire Doug Collins and the release of President and acting GM Rod Thorn. We legit had Thorn running this team in the front office and Doug Collins slowly dissipating any chemistry left on the floor. What’s even more absurd is that as a fan, this duo was actually creating a sense of optimism for the franchise the previous two years. Seems silly right?

Oh yeah, one more thing. We had that whole Andrew Bynum trade really not work out in our favor. We dealt our franchise player (if you can call Andre Iguodala one) as well as the walking double-double Nikola Vucevic. I absolutely was in love with Vucevic when he was a Sixer, such a rare type of talent at the center position, and Doug Collins didn’t even put his ass on the floor during the playoffs. Sorry, just letting out some frustration. I think throughout this article you’ll notice I will do that. As a Sixers fan releasing pent up negative energy in a healthy way is step one in the twelve steps to admitting you’re a Sixers fan.

To sum this digression up: Andrew Bynum while with the Sixers played 0 games and averaged 0 points, 0 rebounds, and 0 blocks per game. In comes the dark and mysterious figure that is general manager Sam Hinkie. To be honest, I knew very little about Hinkie when he was hired as GM. I knew he came from the Rockets organization and he was very into analytics. He also wasn’t Rod Thorn so Hinkie had that going for him. I was on board.

So back to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center. Typically an NBA franchise that has recently fired their head coach hires a new one before an important event like the draft. But obviously the Sixers are no typical franchise with Hinkie at the helm. Sam Hinkie legitimately didn’t care who the future coach would be; this draft was all his. Now obviously the Sixers ownership is involved, but they have basically given Hinkie the only keys to the castle. He makes every decision and the only one that he answers to is god; and even god is like “dude, whatever you gotta do to make this Sixers team competitive is alright with me…”

The Sixers roster before the draft featured a bunch guys with mediocre skills. It was non-descript to say the least. But we had one silver lining and that was 23 year old All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. He seemed like a legit building block and a guy Hinkie would be able to put pieces around and go forward wi…..and he’s gone! While everyone was salivating at the prospect of Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel playing alongside each other in New Orleans and blocking around 35 shots a game, Hinkie was behind closed doors dealing for the injured Kentucky product (Noel) as well as a future first round pick.

There was a lot of discrepancy in the reporting of this deal during draft night. While all of the facts were being sorted out, the Sixers were on the clock and had selected Syracuse point guard and future rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams, aka MCW, aka “the Sultan of Steals”, aka “the Prime Minister of Passing” (none of these other nicknames have stuck like MCW unfortunately). After the selection of MCW this basically confirmed that Jrue Holiday was on the move. I had trouble wrestling with this new direction Hinkie was steering us in. But the team was going nowhere and had zero shot of winning anything with just Jrue Holiday, and while the concept of bottoming out and possibly getting Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker was appealing, it was a long way away from next year’s draft.

MCW-and-Noel

By the end of the night I was on board and fully immersed in what I refer to as “Hinkieball”. It’s like “moneyball” except completely different and not involving baseball. Hinkie had completely changed the course of the franchise for the better in about 15 minutes. 15 minutes! That’s a fourth of an episode of Homeland! Hinkie moved Jrue Holiday for what would have been the #1 overall pick if healthy (Noel) and a top three protected first rounder next year from the Pelicans in addition to completely overhauling the cap situation. At the end of the 2013-14 season they had an astounding $36 million available. Teams would kill for a cap situation this good. Literally, Mitch Kupchak would go out on a murdering spree in LA right now to give the Lakers just half as good a cap situation as Hinkie has gotten for the Sixers.

So finally the 2013-14 season is upon us. Sixers fans are ready for the tanking extravaganza to begin. We have our several boxes of tissues to wipe away tears that we were to experience in the upcoming months. We also have our slop buckets to collect all the vomit induced from the sickening feeling of watching Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes take a combined 50 shots a game. I actually want you to keep reading so I’m not going to go into actual detail about the Sixers 2013-14 season.

2013 sixers

Here are the highlights:

  • We beat Miami in the season opener and MCW locked up the rookie of the year award on day one of the season. (Editor’s note: also this. Fuck this.)
  • Sam Hinkie acquired every second round pick in the next three NBA drafts at the trade deadline.

…..and that’s about it.

Also just for a good laugh here are some actual guys who appeared in a Sixers uniform last season.

  • Daniel Orton
  • Lorenzo Brown
  • James Nunnally
  • Adonis Thomas
  • Darius Johnson-Odom

Those five guys could play against you and some friends in pickup ball at the local JCC and you’d probably only lose by a couple buckets.

Finally, last season was the most awkward I have ever felt about the game of basketball in my life and I wouldn’t wish that kind of suffering upon any of my enemies. It was just weird watching a bunch of not-quite fringe NBA players play bad basketball and hoping that they lose night in and night out. It’s hard to sit there and root for your team to lose, but that was truly the only way to get better. It was also the first time as a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan where losing was not only tolerated but encouraged. It’s crazy to think that this little middle-aged white guy from Houston had completely mesmerized a city that is known to have no patience and is absolutely heartless when it comes to their sports teams’ successes or failures. (Obligatory cliché “snowballs at Santa Claus” joke).  But for real, we threw batteries at J.D. Drew for saying he didn’t want to play here. We’re the craziest fan base in the whole world and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it.

Anyway we won 19 games last season and finished with the second best odds at landing the #1 pick in June in addition to the Pelicans pick, which ended up being #10 overall. This was going swimmingly for Hinkie and the front office. Sixers fans could finally see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. We ended up landing the third pick, which locked us in at getting Wiggins, Parker, or Embiid. All three of those guys would excite the fan base and reinvigorate the team. Then the Joel Embiid injury threw the whole top of the draft for a loop. Was there a real possibility that the Sixers would take a flyer on an injured big man and sit him for the entire season? I truly couldn’t fathom going through another year like the last.

So obviously and without hesitation, Sam Hinkie took Joel Embiid and put a dagger through the heart of every Sixers fan. To add insult to injury, he traded for Dario Saric and stashed him away overseas, thus twisting the dagger that he had already thrust inside us. What everyone wanted to believe was a one year rebuilding plan ended up being a multiyear process. After hundreds of expletives hurled by me at friends, family, religious statues, and TV media personalities, I finally began to cope with what was going on with my beloved Sixers franchise. In one year Sam Hinkie had gathered a pretty impressive stock. Four top twelve picks (MCW, Noel, Embiid, Saric), approximately $35-40 million in cap flexibility, and the likelihood of gathering another top three pick in 2015. He also acquired Joel Embiid’s Twitter handle, which has been All-Star caliber. The dude hits up Kim Kardashian and Rihanna on Twitter just because. As far as I’m concerned, Joel is the man and we all wish him a speedy recovery.

This brings us into the present and the 2014-15 Sixers squad. It’s definitely been easier to mentally prepare for this current season then it was for last. I’m used to seeing just terrible basketball run across my TV screen, but now it’s being brought to an all-time low. Last year, miraculously we won 19 games. This was largely due to having a combination of Turner, Hawes, Thad Young, and MCW. After Turner and Hawes were dealt at the deadline the team began to plummet down the standings. Not because they were great players, but because instead of acceptable NBA players taking 15-20 shots each a game; those shots were replaced by the likes of Casper Ware and Byron Mullens. This year, the Sixers have no decent veterans who can average 12-15 points a game. This is the reason they are without a win 10 games into the season.

Reasons-The-Sixers-Will-Still-Be-Terrible-Justin-Ford-USA-TODAY-Sports
via Rantsports 

This was the Sixers 2014 opening night starting lineup:

  • PG Tony Wroten
  • SG Chris Johnson
  • SF Hollis Thompson
  • PF Nerlens Noel
  • C Henry Sims

Seriously, this is no misprint. These guys can all call themselves NBA starters. I mentioned above that Chris Johnson was let go, and this is no accident, he really is a dreadful player. Johnson was brought into training camp one week before the season started. The Sixers roster is so pitiful this year, that Brett Brown legit had no other options at the two guard spot but to start a guy who just joined the team a week ago.

This whole scenario is so so sad. The Sixers are not guilty of tanking, as much as obliterating any chance possibly winning basketball games. The Sixers are comprised of MCW, Nerlens, and the longest list of D-list celebrity NCAA players who you may or may not remember when they were on a team that was a 12 seed in the tournament. However, second round pick K.J. McDaniels has been a true bright spot for the team and could actually be an integral part of this Sixers team in the future. Early reports on Nerlens Noel are good as well. He obviously needs to develop his body and gain weight and muscle, but his defensive skills are evident and he and Embiid in the frontcourt are not going to be a friendly sight for opponents in the future.

But why be on board with Sam Hinkie and the direction the franchise is going? Is it because we have no other choice and that believing in something is better than not believing at all? I think that’s true for the most part, but I also do personally believe in this plan. Having beyond awful basketball for the next two to three years is a fair sacrifice so that the Sixers are able to prosper for the next ten years after. I also believe in Brett Brown as a head coach. He’s coaching a bunch of college level guys and trying to get them to play together and improve on a night-to-night basis. His record as a coach is not even close to a direct correlation for the caliber of coach he will become when there is finally a real NBA team in front of him. Right now it’s really no fun being a Sixers fan. But if I had the chance to go back to draft night 2013 and stop Sam Hinkie from trading Jrue Holiday and dismantling the franchise I love so dearly; 100 out of 100 times I’m letting him dial up the Pelicans and make that deal.

Keep calm and Hinkie on my fellow Sixer fans, greener pastures are coming.

@jeff_berest

2013-14 League Pass Legends: New Orleans Pellies

new-orleans-pelicans-unveil-uniforms-01

The Pelicans, or as Zach Lowe says, the Pellies, had a pretty poor season last year, finishing second to last in a tough Western Conference. Unfortunately for the franchise, first overall pick Anthony Davis was sidelined throughout the season with various injuries and Austin Rivers may have had one of the worst statistical seasons of all time. And don’t forget Eric Gordon has barely played since he’s came to New Orleans. Whether he actually has a knee problem or he just really hates the franchise, they still have not been able to see the talented shooting guard at all. Remember, Gordon was pretty upset when they matched the Suns offer. Is his knee that bad? Who knows.

The Pelicans made a few puzzling moves this past offseason. They added the “quite talented yet can’t seem to put it all together” Tyreke Evans and also traded their rights to Nerlens Noel and a top five protected pick for young star guard Jrue Holliday. Assuming Gordon will be healthy, this gives the Pellies three players that like/need the ball in their hands at all times.

How is a team like this going to co exist? Can this very talented group of guards be able to play on the floor together? Although a three guard lineup may work out well in NBA 2k, lineups like that normally won’t fly in an ACTUAL NBA GAME. These are some issues that head coach Monty Williams is going to have trouble addressing.

Another thing I look forward to watching with this Pelicans squad is the emergence of Anthony Davis. Besides the injuries in his rookie season, Davis did have a pretty good year. When he was on the court, he averaged 13.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 1.8 BPG, very respectable for a rookie. AD seems like a hard worker, so I will not be surprised if he takes another step this upcoming season. (He looked awesome in the Team USA Select Game.)

This Pelicans team will most likely not make the playoffs next year, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be an entertaining League Pass team.

Jake Weiner has his eyes on Rip City

Jacob Bikshorn wonders how the new look Nets will play out.

Sizing Up the US Roster for the 2014 World Cup of Basketball

Like any red-blooded American, I love the US men’s national basketball team.  The best players on the planet teaming up and playing an entertaining brand of basketball is something that turns even the most casual fans into die hards for a couple weeks every four years.  The Dream Team and the Redeem Team are two of the most popular sports teams in American history and now as we are at the beginning of a new four-year cycle, it is time to start thinking about who will be on what is arguably the toughest team in the world to make.   Next summer is the World Cup of Basketball, formerly known as the world championships, and will prove to be a good indicator of who will be on the roster when the 2016 Olympics in Rio rolls around.

What we know already:  Black Kevin and White Kevin have committed to play in 2014!   We also know that the thing named LeBron (I mean this with this utmost admiration as he is definitely not a human man and is some type of specimen that we have never seen before) is likely done playing for the US at the international level.   That leaves us with 10 spots and lots of deserving candidates.

Locks: Kevin Durant, Kevin Love

They obviously just committed to playing in this tournament and look to be the cornerstones of USA Basketball for the foreseeable future.  In fact, USA Basketball chairman and U of I alum (gotta throw in any Illini reference I can) Jerry Colangelo described Durant as the face of the program going forward.  After seeing Durant making a mockery of the FIBA three point line (which they have now changed because of his performance) and have a phenomenal Olympics, I see him as the perfect player to build around.

If they want to play, then they are in: Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Andre Iguodala, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler

This is a large group and one made up of Derrick Rose, who would have been on the 2012 Olympic team if he were healthy, Blake Griffin, who was on the team until a late injury forced him off the squad, and the rest of the 2012 Olympic Team that is not KD, K-Love, Kobe (he is too god damn old and is coming off a major injury), and LeBron.  If any of these people want to play, they have enough clout that they will be on the team.  I suspect that Melo who is a veteran of three Olympics (like LeBron) is done playing internationally.  I would also bet two time Olympians, Chris Paul and Deron Williams who are approaching thirty with injury histories are also likely done.   Also please watch this video if you want to see the greatest moment of 13 year old Ben’s life and why I will always love Deron Williams.  Chandler is getting old and also has injury problems and is likely done playing for Team USA as well.  That leaves realistic options for next summer as Rose (a healthy Rose would love to play for team USA), Westbrook, Harden, Davis, and Iguodala.  If you get 3 or more of those guys next summer than the US will be looking pretty good.

Very likely to be included if they tryout: Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Paul George

My love affair for Curry has been well documented (shout out to Michael Rosenson for sharing in this platonic love of Curry with me).  He would be the perfect offensive player for the international game and if he is healthy than he would be a great asset.  Kyrie is just plain filthy, but he too needs to stay healthy.  He was the star of the recent mini camp, as discussed by my comrade Jake Weiner.  He is looking like the point guard of the future for Team USA.  Now time for a little horn-tooting.  I knew Kyrie would be this good from the first time I saw him play at Duke and did not understand why there was so much doubt (other than injury concerns) about him being the number 1 pick and becoming star.  If you can shoot, dribble, and pass that good, you are likely going to be a stud.  George was the breakout star of the playoffs and would be an excellent, versatile option for this US team.

Intriguing options: Ryan Anderson, Harrison Barnes, DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins, Andre Drummond, Jrue Holiday, Larry SANDERS!, Klay Thompson, John Wall

These players are all intriguing to me for different things they bring to the table.  Athleticism and rim protection (Drummond and SANDERS!), perimeter shooting (Thompson), versatility on the wing (Barnes), stretch 4 (Anderson), size and interior scoring (Boogie), shooting ability and can guard both guard spots (Holiday), and elite athletic ability and can guard both guard spots (Wall).  These players are all intriguing to me and are all very talented players, but these players will all have to have good seasons as well as a good training camp next summer to be on the team.

Filling out the rest of the team:  Everybody else in the player pool

There are some really good players I did not mention and really like.  Players such as Damian Lillard, Gordon Hayward, Mike Conley, Kenneth Faried, and many more are extremely talented and have as good of a chance as the guys in the section above of them to make the squad.  There is a year between now and the World Championships and players will emerge and have breakout campaigns between now and then.  Two personal favorites of mine that I hope are given the opportunity are everyone’s favorite Chicago Bulls two guard-Jimmy Butler, and my St. Louis homer pick of Bradley Beal, who I have been watching play for 6 years and has the prettiest jumper I have ever seen in person.  Another guy who would be a great fit to this team is Kawhi Leonard.  You saw what he could do in the finals and no one would be surprised if he turns in an all star caliber season in 2013-14.  Lots can happen between now and then and it will be fun to see how it shakes out.

Here is my prediction of the 12 man roster 2014 World Cup of Basketball Roster:

Guards/Wings: Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard

Bigs: Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin

This squad is a bit small and that is definitely worrisome against the behemoth front line of Spain, but the versatility of this roster should offset those concerns.  This team would have two rim protectors (Davis and Drummond) and two major glass cleaners/contrasting offensive weapons (Love and Griffin) on the front line.  This team would also have three guys (Durant, George, and Leonard) who can guard both forward positions and play as an effective small ball 4.  Westbrook and Rose would bring dynamite athleticism in the backcourt.  Harden is a monster in the pick and roll and is a great all around offensive talent, while Irving and Curry would bring the necessary outside shooting strokes to space the floor.  I constructed this team assuming ideal health and certain players opting or opting not to participate.  Regardless, the US will enter next summer as the heavy favorite to win the World Cup of Basketball.

What’s up with the Pelicans?

Pelican

Thursday afternoon news broke that the Kings, Pelicans and Trail Blazers had agreed to a three team deal that had interesting implications for several players. The main components of the deal were as follows: The Kings sign and traded Tyreke Evans to the Pelicans. The Pelicans sent PG Greivis Vasquez to the Kings and big man Robin Lopez to Portland. Portland doled out some second round picks and some shit that nobody cares about.

For Sacramento, this trade is significant because in a way it signals the changing of the guard. The franchise has lived with the world’s largest black cloud hanging over its head for nearly the last decade, as the team has become a laughing stock in the league. Owned by the financially troubled Maloof brothers, the franchise seemingly made bad decision after bad decision. With a new ownership group, front office and coaching staff, some of those previous blunders are being undone. Letting Tyreke go is a bit of foreshadowing with how I believe the team will deal with DeMarcus Cousins.

But when taking a look at the Pelicans roster, it’s not hard to notice that this club is constructed more like a fantasy team than a team looking to vie for a playoff spot in the incredibly challenging and deep Western Conference. The Pelicans now employ three different players who:

1. Are all being paid over $10 million a year

2. Are not known for their ability to catch and shoot

3.  Are accustomed to having the ball in their hands all the time.

Even if Monty Williams is able to coax Tyreke into either coming off the bench or playing small forward, I believe it is going to be hard for this team to manufacture points. Yes, they still employ Ryan Anderson, a top shooter in the entire league, and who knows what year two of The Brow will look like, but the totally revamped backcourt in New Orleans is going to run into some trouble.

And this is just looking at the pure playing styles of all three of these guards. The personalities of these players also raise a lot of questions in a game where teamwork is indispensable. Eric Gordon, the big prize in the controversial Chris Paul trade from two summers ago, has not panned out like many NBA experts had predicted. While injuries have robbed him of the necessary court time to put his personal stamp on the team, there have been off the court episodes that have raised some red flags for the organization. Last year, as a restricted free agent, Gordon signed a giant offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns and then told members of the media that “Phoenix is where my heart is now.” When the Hornets (they were the Hornets back in those days) matched the offer sheet, Gordon was very upset. He missed the first several months of the 2012-13 NBA season with a mysterious knee injury that some people speculated was not as bad as Gordon was making it seem, using the injury as a way to force New Orleans to trade him.

While the Pelis (can I start that? is that cool?) may not be done wheeling and dealing, it seems as though this is going to be the core next season. For all I know, having so many capable pick and roll ball handlers could serve as an advantage that no other team can match up against. Austin Rivers could take a step forward, seeing as he literally cannot take any more steps backward.

The only sure thing is that this NBA offseason has been wild so far and is still far from being over.

Buy em, Sell em, or Hold em: Celts, 76ers, Raptors

Steven Kerstein

Hey Guys,

It’s lunch-time (well it was lunch-time) on Wall Street and I’m sick of doing property tax appeals.  Since we’ve last talked, not much has changed.  Aaron Hernandez is hopefully enjoying prison and the Sox still suck.  (Note: this was written before last week’s draft and has been modified with all the craziness that ensued. Hence, the bold.)

Rather than scan the White Sox message boards, I figure that I’ll give you my two cents regarding the future outlooks for the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors.

Boston Celtics: Hold, now HOLD

While you might say that the Celtics should be a strong sell with rebuilding on the horizon, I wouldn’t be so fast to bet against the organization.  In the world of the NBA, it is better to be terrible than be average.  Just ask the Houston Rockets.  I think that the Celtics are light-years ahead of the Knicks in terms of understanding this process. With the impending trade of KG, Pierce and Terry to Brooklyn, the Celtics will hardly resemble their usual selves. While the 2013-2014 campaign must be a disappointing one for Boston, management is taking the right steps in revitalizing the organization.  Why I’m hesitant to buy for the long-haul: They might hire Vinny Del Negro.

Philadelphia 76ers: Sell, now BUY

Over the past 3-5 years, the Sixers have been an interesting story.  After drafting Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, it looked as though the franchise was setting itself up to be an up-and-coming squad in a weak Eastern Conference.  Then the team dealt for Iggy and pieces for Bynum.  When healthy, Andrew Bynum is as good as it gets down low.  The problem was Bynum couldn’t find the court in his brief tenure with Philly.  Suddenly, the franchise is at another crossroads.  While Holiday has emerged as a borderline star in the league, Turner hasn’t panned out according to expectations.  This team should probably be in full-out rebuild mode but doesn’t necessarily believe it just yet. I see considerable downside here. Short comfortably.  I think I just wrote about the White Sox. Oh Dear.

Listening to my advice, Sixers Management obliterated the roster up by dealing their only good player (Holiday) for Nerlens Noel.  This move serves two purposes.  1- Philly drafted the most talented player (according to analytics) in this year’s draft. 2- Ensured that they’ll be terrible next season to get a chance at Andrew Wiggins. 

Coupled with drafting Michael Carter Williams, the Sixers actually did a great job cutting the crap.

Toronto Raptors: Buy, now BUY

Let me preface this advice by saying this is my speculative, long-term hold.  Six years ago, the franchise looked to be turning a corner by winning their first division title.  Led by THE prototype of all raptors, Chris Bosh, Toronto looked to be destined as a playoff lock in the Eastern Conference for years to come.  Needless to say, shit hit the fan.  Bosh walked and joined the fools in Miami and the Raptors were stuck with Andrea Bargnani as the foundation of their franchise.  Uh oh.  But things have seemingly turned around lately. The collection of Rudy Gay, Demar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross might work.  Add in the fact that ownership pried Masai Ujiri away from Denver and something might be brewing north of the border.  Somebody’s got to have long-term success in this division… UPDATE: They’re getting rid of Barg! My buy recommendation last week still remains intact.