Wednesday , Nov , 11 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Odd couple: Why Elton Brand and Philadelphia 76ers will stay an awkward match

The 76ers are track stars. Unlike the Phoenix Suns, they’re young track stars. Iguodala, even with his improved range, feasts off the open-court. Same for Rodney Carney, Willie Green, and Thaddeus Young. They all love to run. Brand isn’t a track star. Never will be, either. The veteran has made his living off getting the ball on the block and putting in work. And, to be fair, it has paid off, with Brand regularly dropping 20 point, 10 rebound seasons …


Odd couple: Why Elton Brand and Philadelphia 76ers will stay an awkward matchI always saw it as odd. Only now it’s awkward.

Two summers ago, I, like many NBA heads, was taken aback when the Philadelphia 76ers signed post Elton Brand to a multi-year contract for ‘max’ money. I had concerns with Brand overcoming an Achilles injury and clashing with Andre Iguodala for first-option status on offense.

However, style was my biggest worry. Brand  – a methodical and back-to-the-basket post – was at his best in the Los Angeles Clippers’ half-court set, while the 76ers were at their best when they used their athleticism to run.

Half-court versus fast-break. Something would eventually give. And it has – just a year later than expected because Brand sustained a serious injury that sidelined him for most of 2009.

Currently, Philadelphia has a disappointing 3-4 record. And Brand’s numbers – he’s averaging 10 points in 26 minutes per game -are also disappointing. Unfortunately, I don’t see the situation improving for the former All-Star.

I call them track stars. They’re the type of players who are most comfortable when things become uncontrolled and spontaneous. And they force the coach to toss his playbook and try to goad opposing coaches into matching their breakneck pace.

The 76ers are track stars. Unlike the Phoenix Suns, they’re young track stars. Iguodala, even with his improved range, feasts off the open-court. Same for Rodney Carney, Willie Green, and Thaddeus Young. They all love to run.

Brand isn’t a track star. Never will be, either. The veteran has made his living off getting the ball on the block and putting in work. And, to be fair, it has paid off, with Brand regularly dropping 20 point, 10 rebound seasons.

So style will always be an issue. Other complications have made things tough on Brand:

  • Andre Miller, the team’s long-time point guard, joined the Portland Trail Blazers in the off-season. Miller, like Brand, preferred a slower pace, so he could post smaller table-setters. And Miller would have kept Brand happy with regular touches.
  • Miller has been replaced by speedsters Louis Williams and Jrue Holiday. Both push the ball whenever possible. And both are developing as distributors. This means less opportunities for Brand.
  • Brand was signed before coach Eddie Jordan arrived. Translation: Brand isn’t Jordan’s ‘guy’. The sideline boss doesn’t have to justify Brand’s contract and can play who he likes.
  • Jordan has used this freedom to increase Marreese Speights’ role. The second-year man isn’t better than Brand, but his athleticism is better for the 76ers. In limited minutes, the energetic Speights has produced, averaging 14 points, 7 rebounds, and one block per game.   



(Why Jordan is intrigued with Speights.) 

Like I said, the awkwardness will continue in Philly. I only hope a solution can be found for Brand and Philadelphia before thing go from awkward to nasty.

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