76ers

Andre Iguodala's moment, the Andrew Bynum trade and the brink of the Process

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Andre Iguodala's moment, the Andrew Bynum trade and the brink of the Process

On May 10, 2012, Andre Iguodala hopped onto the scorer’s table at Wells Fargo Center, celebrating the Sixers’ dramatic Game 6 win in the first round over the Bulls, the franchise’s first playoff series victory since 2003. 

Three months later, he was a Denver Nugget.

Game 6, which will re-air Wednesday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia, is memorable on its own, a low-scoring thriller. The Sixers’ season ended with a Game 7 loss in Boston, the conclusion of a series later featured in Uncut Gems. Adam Sandler’s character, a desperate jeweler/gambler named Howard Ratner, encourages Kevin Garnett to “step on Elton Brand’s f---ing neck.” 

There aren’t yet any movies that we know of about the trade that sent Iguodala to the Nuggets and brought Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia, but it’s a deal that invites re-examination. In the four-team, 12-player trade, the Sixers received Bynum and Jason Richardson, and they gave up Iguodala, Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and a protected first-round pick.

The clearest takeaway from the trade is that the impact was, on the surface, borderline disastrous. Bynum never played a game with the Sixers because of injuries, including a bowling-induced setback. Richardson only played in 52 games. Harkless, now in his eighth season, is a solid NBA player. Vucevic was an All-Star last season with the Magic and has averaged 17 points and 10.7 rebounds since leaving the Sixers. Iguodala won three championships with the Warriors and earned a Finals MVP award. 

The trade’s failure also expedited the beginning of “The Process.” With Bynum out, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen started at center. Kwame Brown even started 11 games in his final NBA season. The team finished 34-48 and missed the playoffs, and Doug Collins resigned as head coach. Sam Hinkie took over in May, trading Jrue Holiday on draft night in exchange for Nerlens Noel and the Pelicans’ 2014 first-round pick. He hired Brett Brown in August. 

If the Sixers had never traded for Bynum, they likely would have been a playoff team in the 2012-13 season, even after Lou Williams — their leading scorer in 2011-12 — signed with the Hawks. Iguodala was coming off an All-Star year, while a rookie Harkless would presumably have had a good shot at taking minutes from players like Dorell Wright and Nick Young. Collins removed Vucevic from his rotation in the playoffs the year prior, but it seems very possible his opinion of the big man would have shifted.

“How many teams can give up Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless and Nik Vucevic and have nothing in returning playing?,” Collins asked after a February loss to Orlando. “That’s tough to overcome, right? That’s just the facts. … Nik Vucevic had 19 rebounds tonight. Spencer had one. I think Lavoy had two.”

Allen had four rebounds that night, but that’s obviously besides the point. 

Collins would have been coaching a team with hopes of making a run. Though the Sixers had been fortunate in that first-round series against Chicago the year before, with the Bulls suffering injuries to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, their aspirations wouldn’t have been entirely delusional. Any notion of winning the Eastern Conference or pushing for an NBA title would have been absurd — the Sixers weren’t going to win a series against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat. But, at a bare minimum, they would have been a step or two above mediocre. They could’ve easily convinced themselves it wasn’t necessary to do anything drastic, that they were on the right track.

The team traded for Bynum instead, and Hinkie came in unconcerned with immediate, conventional respectability. He accumulated assets, played the odds and gave himself chances to select players like Joel Embiid. His approach turned off many fans who didn’t enjoy watching fringe NBA players set historic losing streaks. 

Without the Bynum trade, the Sixers probably never would have considered that path, and they likely would have stayed the course on a different, more traditional process built around Igoudala, Holiday and Vucevic. It would've been so much easier to justify hovering a couple of rungs below title contention, remembering that night Iguodala leaped on the table and hoping it wasn't a fluke. 



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Ever wonder why Allen Iverson is called 'The Answer'?

Ever wonder why Allen Iverson is called 'The Answer'?

Some might have called him “Bubba Chuck.” Others simply “A.I.”

But the nickname that stands out above all others when talking about Allen Iverson is “The Answer.”

Ever wonder how Iverson got the nickname? The origins are still a bit unclear.

We all know Iverson for his signature cornrows and tattoos, but when Iverson arrived in Philadelphia, he had one tattoo: A bulldog with “The Answer” written above it. Iverson’s original sneaker with Reebok was called “The Question.” Each subsequent sneaker was called “The Answer.”

In 2003, Iverson was actually sued over the use of the nickname by Jamil Blackmon, a family friend from Virginia. Blackmon claimed that he gave Iverson the nickname in 1994 and the two had reached an agreement on Blackmon’s pay out for any money the nickname netted Iverson.

Putting together the pieces, the answer may be as simple as Iverson being “The Answer” to the Sixers’ and NBA’s problems.

For more on Iverson’s nickname and why play-by-play announcer Marc Zumoff never called him it, check out the video above.

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2020 NBA mock draft: Trading up for Kira Lewis Jr. in this Sixers-only mock draft

2020 NBA mock draft: Trading up for Kira Lewis Jr. in this Sixers-only mock draft

It looks like we’ll be waiting a while for the NBA draft, which was originally scheduled for June 25. The New York Times' Marc Stein reported that some teams now expect the draft to be held in September. For the time being, we’ll continue to consider possibilities for the Sixers, who would have picks No. 22, 34, 36, 49 and 59.

In this Sixers-only mock draft, the team moves up in the first round to take a point guard and selects a combo guard early in the second. 

16. TRADE — Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama 

We have the Sixers trading No. 22 and 34 to the Timberwolves for No. 16. With Lewis, it feels obligatory to list his sophomore averages: 18.5 points, 5.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals. Those per game stats are slightly inflated because he played 37.6 minutes a night, but they’re impressive nonetheless.

The Sixers might think about Lewis as a trade-up option primarily because of his ability as a shot creator. While he sometimes played a loose style at Alabama, turning it over 3.5 times per contest last season, he has a natural talent for sizing up a defender and blowing past him. He is extremely fast, which makes him a threat in the open court and also means he doesn’t need to gain a tremendous edge on his man with a dribble move to beat him — a sliver of space is often enough. 

When he gets into the paint, however, Lewis isn’t the most reliable finisher. At 6-foot-3, 165 pounds, his size makes life more difficult for him around the rim. His weight is likely a larger concern defensively, although Lewis is capable of working over ball screens — something he’d be asked to do often in the Sixers’ scheme — and his speed is an asset when he’s trailing the play or jolting into a passing lane.

Lewis’ shooting numbers are positive, too — 36.6 percent from three-point range and 80.2 percent from the foul line — though he has a low release point he might have to tweak for the NBA. He just turned 19 years old in April and will need to add muscle, but with Lewis’ college production, it’s not as if the Sixers would be banking purely on potential.

36. (via New York) — Jared Butler, G, Baylor 

Butler’s game matches the Sixers’ needs well. He’s an advanced ball handler, full of behind-the-back, between-the-legs and spin moves, and confident in the pick-and-roll. While he’d be undersized for an NBA shooting guard at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Butler is dangerous both on and off the ball. He hit 38.1 percent of his three-point attempts this season on 6.7 attempts per game. 

In the NBA, it’ll be interesting to see if Butler is able to guard multiple positions effectively. He has a sturdy build, is a good lateral mover and had 2.2 steals per 40 minutes for a Baylor team that finished 26-4, all of which is encouraging. 

TRADE — No. 49 for Memphis’ 2021-second round pick and cash considerations 

The Sixers have been very willing to sell second-round picks in recent years, and with the team projected to be in the luxury tax, it would not be remotely shocking if they did it again. In this deal, they’re at least getting back a future pick in addition to the cash. 

59. (via Lakers) — Killian Tillie, C, Gonzaga 

Tillie endured a slew of injuries at Gonzaga, which is one reason he might be available this late in the draft. The 6-foot-10 Frenchman has a lot of skill for his size and shot 44.4 percent from three-point range in college. He has real stretch four/stretch five potential in the NBA, especially with his ability as a passer. 

For the Sixers, his diverse skill set would have to be intriguing here. They don’t have any young backup big men on the roster, and Tillie has the tools to be a productive rotation player — if he stays healthy. That caveat would be worth accepting with the 59th pick. 

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