The 76ers are 35 games into the regular season, a long enough time – at least as far as this season is concerned – for coach Doug Collins to figure out what guys can and cannot do on this team.
The only thing that will change drastically at this point will be if they get the opportunity to trot out center Andrew Bynum. Until that time comes, they are a team that will continue to play from the outside in, relying entirely too much on their perimeter game. And while they are not as good as they were last season defensively, they still play hard enough at that end to remain among the top 10 teams in the league.
If there is one player who is consistently in the rotation who has shown signs that he can add to the Sixers in the second half of the season, it is Dorell Wright.
Remember when the Sixers said they wanted to become longer defensively, more athletic, and more versatile? Wright, a reserve, has shown signs of being able to do just that and is starting to look more comfortable in his first year with the Sixers.
Heading into the Sixers’ wicked back-to-back at Oklahoma City and San Antonio, Wright’s game was trending upward. In the nine games before the Oklahoma City game, Wright averaged 13.6 points on 45.5 percent shooting. He stretched defenses as well, connecting on 42.9 percent of his threes.
Earlier this season, though, Wright, in the final year of his contract, looked as if he would be a gigantic bust. Playing sporadically and sometimes not at all through the first 17 games, Wright couldn’t score (4.4 points per game) or shoot (31.1 percent).
But think back to the premise of being longer and better defensively, and Wright’s value to the Sixers becomes more obvious.
One of the worst developments this season is the Sixers’ inability to defend the perimeter. As of Friday, the Sixers had allowed 10 made three-pointers seven times this season. By comparison, last season they allowed that many just five times.