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Doug Collins

Why do the 76ers have the 4th-best Win % in the NBA?

I know a lot about the NBA. Too much, some would say. I know that Brandon Jennings of YOUR…Milwaukee Bucks shooting 44% this year is way higher than his career average. I know that Portland’s Luke Babbit was traded to the Timberwolves for Martell Webster in 2009. I know that Chandler Parsons of YOUR…Houston Rockets is an extremely versatile small forward, capable of shooting, passing and rebounding with equal proficiency.

YOUR…2011-2012 Philadelphia 76ers have the 4th best winning percentage in the league. They only trail Derrick Rose’s Chicago Bulls and LeBron James’, Dwyane Wade’s and Chris Bosh’s Miami Heat. The red, white and blue juggernaut from eastern Pennsylvania is here, with perennial All-Stars Spencer Hawes, Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday and Jodie Meeks leading the way. Wait…who are these guys?

Collins in his playing days.

Somehow, some way, the Philadelphia 76ers are dominating one team after the next, with home wins over Indiana, Atlanta Orlando, Chicago and the Lakers, and roadies over Atlanta and Phoenix. They are doing this with newly-minted All-Star Andre Iguodala playing below his career averages offensively, and with Lou Williams as their leading scorer…at 15.5 points a game. Spencer Hawes leads the team in rebounds with 8.3 per contest, and Iguodala is the top assist man, at 5.2 a game…a half dime more than point guard Jrue Holiday. It’s a team filled with nobodies and has-beens. The starting lineup would make even the casual NBA fan shrug, and the program-director at ESPN turn the page faster than a WNBA Conference Final. The NBA has always been a league driven by the superstar, and rightfully so; it always seems that the barometer of a team’s success will thrive or wane at the whims of a LeBron, a Kobe, a Michael or a Magic. Without a superstar or even a certifiable All-Star, how are the Sixers doing this? In a nutshell, it’s because coach Doug Collins has gotten all of his players to play to the top of his limited potential.

Looking at their career averages, starters Jodie Meeks, Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes and rotation players Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner are all having the best seasons of their young professional lives. Only Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand (who hasn’t played at an All-Star level since suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in 2007) are playing below established career numbers.

Digging deeper into who each individual player is, and what skill set he has, it’s easy to see that what these players all have in common. Coach Doug Collins has discovered what exactly each man on his squad does best, and has found a way to harness that particular talent.

For example, Jodie Meeks is a shooter and a scorer. During his time at a pre-Coach Calipari University of Kentucky, Meeks was the Wildcats’ number one offensive option. He was free to take the ball and shoot where he wanted – just like any talented college 2-guard. But in the NBA, defenses closed in on him, and at 6-4, Meeks found it more difficult to find his shot.

Doug Collins recognized Meeks’ strengths and shortcomings, and distilled what exactly would make him an effective NBA player. And what would make him an effective player, was to be the designated shooter from distance. Meeks routinely and lithely moves around the perimeter like a squirrel on a telephone wire, ready to catch and shoot passes from penetrators Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday. He leads the Sixers with 115 3-pointers attempted, which accounts for about 64% of h… Read more...