By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Sixers followed up their awful Sunday performance against the Knicks in New York with an equally awful performance on Monday against those same Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center.
Perhaps the panic is the result of a disappointing Phillies season, a crumbling (crumbled) Eagles season, and a lost Flyers season. It’s also assuredly due to increased expectations because of the off-season trade for Andrew Bynum. Also a little due to Nick Young (you gotta see this).
Those things, combined with two consecutive 20 point losses to the Knicks has been a recipe for some worry in Sixers-land.
Breathe deep. It’ll be alright.
For a second, allow yourself to take a look at the Sixers’ starting lineup from Monday night’s game:
Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Dorell Wright, Thaddeus Young and Kwame Brown.
Not terribly imposing is it? Especially not when compared to a Knicks lineup that features two Olympic gold medalists in Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, and another sure hall of fame player in Jason Kidd.
This isn’t meant to be an indictment of the Sixers roster. They’re missing their best and most important player in Bynum, and starting shooting guard and third best player in Jason Richardson.
But think back to just before the Bynum trade; how optimistic were you about the 2012 season? Not very I imagine. Well that’s the roster you’ve got presently, minus Iguodala.
This also isn’t meant to be a pass for the two losses. They’ve looked terrible. The offense has been a mess, and the defense has been uninspired. It’s just that it’s not terribly surprising that they’re scattered offensively. There are nine new players there, some of them aren’t great, and the two best didn’t play. It’s not at all surprising that they’re not there yet defensively, they got rid of two great defenders and added a few, not so great defenders.
If anything, this is meant to be a reminder that this season is almost solely about Andrew Bynum and Jrue Holiday, and their ability to be the core players of a championship contender. Until Bynum is there, the results are largely inconsequential.
Wins are fun, and you should want this team to win and play well, but this season is just the first step. A successful season could still result in the turnover of over half of the roster next year.
It’s probably also a bit of a reality-check for some of the “this is a very good team, even without Bynum,” hyperbole that was common just before the season, and just after the win over Denver. The Sixers should tell you they are contenders, that’s their job. Writers who told you they’d be very good were probably being honest, but were most likely mistaken.
A fun and competitive team without Bynum? Possible. But good? I guess it depends on your definition of good. They’re certainly not a contending team without Bynum, as most teams are not contenders minus their best player.
If the Sixers are not a good team by mid-season, whether it be with or without Bynum, there’s reason to worry.
Until then, just remember patience, perspective, and breathing. And hide sharp objects when Nick Young is in the game.