Common sentiment in the NBA dictates that the only way to get better was to get really, really bad. To a large extent that’s true, and I fault myself for often saying that becoming terrible, gaining cap space, and building through the draft is the only way to get better. Because it’s not.
First off, drafting high isn’t the be-all, end-all tanking enthusiasts claim it to be. While it’s undeniable that higher draft picks bring on better players as a whole, it isn’t guaranteed that a franchise changing player will come with losing. According to Chad Ford of ESPN, the draft this year has no consensus number one pick, as it lacks the game-changers like Blake Griffin two years ago and John Wall from this year’s draft.
Second, teams have rebuilt through acquiring veterans after stockpiling young players. The current Celtics are the best example of this. They decided to build around vets instead of rookies, trading away their “young core” and forming the “Big 3″ and signing low-cost, ring-hungry vets to surround their new veteran core.
Of course, there’s also option 3, which isn’t feasible here, luring superstars via other superstars, cap space, and good weather. That’s only worked once and may never work again (although New York will try soon, without the good weather).
Some fans have committed to the trading Iguodala to create cap space and better draft picks strategy. I previously had thought it was time for him to go – after all, the team didn’t look that bad without him. And it would enable the team to acquire some young players who would make the Sixers better down the line. On the surface, this makes sense. The Sixers have Andre’s replacement, Evan Turner, in house. They have several other young players with great potential, like Holiday and Young and Speights.
But we’re also locked into over $30 million in contracts for two of our best players, Andre and Elton Brand, for the next three years. We can just as easily try to win as a veteran squad, which would require us to use our young players as trade pieces. I personally believe Holiday is a keeper, but the others I’d dangle for a chance to get a go-to-scorer.
Just as a hypothetical, imagine if the Sixers made a run for Indiana’s Danny Granger, who’s averaged over 21 points per game in each of the last 3 seasons. Indiana just fired Jim O’Brien, and more changes can potentially be coming. A Granger-Iguodala swamp has been suggested before but think about what would happen if we paired them together. A hypothetical starting 5:
That’s a competitive lineup, no? Although it would take Andre out of his natural position, it gets the Sixers the scorer they needed, a guy who can get 20 on any night. We’ll still be missing a center, but that can be dealt with elsewhere.
The point here: the Sixers don’t have to lose, tank, or trade Andre to get better if they choose to go that way. They can just make a run at better players, by using the trade pieces they have, to improve now.