Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Dirty Dozen

In case you haven't heard, the 76ers made two innocuous signings this past week, picking up defensive specialist Royal Ivey and sharp-shooter Kareem Rush. If you don't know who either is, Rush looks like this:

And Ivey did this, which makes him awesome:

I've wanted to punch Pittsburgh people in the balls every day of my life. Welcome to Philadelphia Royal.

To the naked eye, these moves look pretty minor, but I assure you, they are bigger than you think. In Ivey, the Sixers finally have a defensive presence off the bench—one that, at 6-foot-4 and 215 lbs., can defend point guards to small forwards. And Rush is a player that can stretch the defense, giving Philadelphia the three-point shooter they desperately need.

Assuming that Ed Stefanski finds a way to resign restricted free agents Andre Iguodala and Louis Williams, which should be the case, the Sixers, for the first time in a long, long time, have a 12-man rotation of players that can all actually play. It's a nice change of pace. Just check out the potential lineup:
PG—Andre Miller
SG—Andre Iguodala
SF—Thaddeus Young
PF—Elton Brand
C—Samuel Dalembert

Louis Williams, Kareem Rush, Royal Ivey, Marreese Speights, Willie Green, Jason Smith and Reggie Evans

That right there is 12 players that all bring something significant to the table. Starting-wise, Philadelphia has the most underrated floor general in the league in Miller, an exciting, explosive player that could be on the verge of All-Star level in Iggy, a super-talented wing who is a rebounding machine in Thad, one of the best all-around power forwards in Brand and the athletic, quick (if unintelligent) Dalembert blocking shots and hustling.

The bench consists of instant offense in the way of Lou Will and at times Green, lock-down d in Ivey, hustle, rebounding and grit in Reggie, a big man to draw centers away from the basket in Smith, a three-point threat to stretch the d in Rush and the incredible potential that is Speights, a player who down the line could become some version of Elton Brand if he works hard enough.

That is a downright scary team to think about, no matter who you are. In the shortest of time, Stefanski has come home and completely transformed the entire atmosphere of the Sixers. With the incredibly quick work he and his Wachovia Center partner Paul Holmgren have done, it looks as though our best chance at a championship lies in the Sixers and Flyers, not the Phillies and Eagles.

Who would have guessed that just some 12 short months ago?

And just in case you don't know, here's some of what Rush can do.

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