a href="http://data.shamsports.com/content/pages/playerProfiles/profileDisplay.jsp?id=1020">Anthony Morrow, who was quiet in the first game and who was not playing in the game due to a concussion, was diligently shooting free throws, unnervingly making every single one of them. He was the only player out on the court during the latter part of the optional shootaround. When the layup line started, Toronto shot layups and jumpshots as a team for about two minutes, before breaking off into two distinct factors; the jumpshooters and the dunkers. Barbosa, Calderon and Bargnani led the charge for the jumpshooting faction; DeMar Derozan flitted between the two. The dunking troupe featured both Johnsons, Sonny Weems, occasional lashings of Derozan, and a dollop of Bayless. However, the troupe was unilaterally spearheaded by Julian Wright, who spent several minutes throwing dunk contest-esque self-alleyoops to himself, usually starting from an ambitiously long way, and completing very few of them. Wright had not played the previous night, and had not played in many previous nights, receiving only 9 minutes since Valentine's Day, all of them in blowout losses. Julian Wright, it appears, didn't think he was going to get any playing time. Julian Wright, it appears, doesn't want that to change.
(Wright never did play in the game, recording his second DNP-CD of the weekend. Given that he was later witnessed trying to play games with James Johnson on the bench as the Raptors called timeout while down seven in overtime, it might behoove Wright to improve his body language and demeanour. You don't have to look forlorn all the time; you just have to look like you're vaguely aware of what's transpiring on the court, whilst appearing willing and able to improve yourself and the team's fortunes. Julian Wright did not give off that impression.)
When it came to the player name announcements, events went down just as they had in the first game; same players (save for Vujacic over Morrow), in the same order, with the same levels of reception. The only break from procedure came when James Johnson, the first player announced, missed his turn in the post-announcement handslaps. Julian Wright found this funny.
How Philadelphia balance their roster from here is not immediately obvious. Even with this huge infusion of talent, the situation is a mess. Andre Iguodala has been used as their primary halfcourt creator over the last two seasons, but really isn't that good at it; unfortunately, he plays the same position as Turner. So do does Thaddeus Young, a man who would be an ideal backup combo forward in the role that Turk Nowitzki fits for Milwaukee (and that Jeff Green should do for Oklahoma City), but who has to share time there with equally effective backup Marreese Speights and the remains of Elton Brand, with whom the team are stuck. Bad trades have also seen the team stuck with Andres Nocioni and Jason Kapono as unnecessary small forward options; meanwhile, the only average guards are Jrue Holiday and Louis Williams, neither of whom are really point guards, but whom also cannot really play together. It's an unbalanced team further penalised by a bad salary situation, a lack of proper two guards, and a centre rotation of Spencer Hawes and Jason Smith that has all the defensive intensity of a playground punch-up.
The only way it could be would be to deal their few remaining veterans. All the turnover over the summer left the 76ers with Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young in the weird position of being the third- and fourth-oldest players, the "veterans" and the longest-tenured players who, at the age of 25, could feasibly still be the newbies under different circumstances. By default, then, this makes them trade candidates, especially Young, one of the few Sixers whose contract runs beyond this season.
Neither need be traded. No Sixers player does. But there are arguments for both to be. In the midst of his breakout season, and with an expiring contract that makes him a very palatable rental prospect for a competitive team, Hawes has value on the trade market. So does Young, a high quality two-way player tied down to a competitive price, yet to enter the prime of his career and also very good. Both might be sought after, especially Young, the sort of player who fits almost any team. Whether Philadelphia chooses to capitalize on this, however, is not something that should be affected by the surprising start. Even if it continues.
Carter-Williams and Noel are the pieces around which others are to fit – for all the productive play of veterans Evan Turner, Thad Young and a resurgent Spencer Hawes (whose resurgence is due in part to Carter-Williams’s pick and roll connection with him), they are trade pieces or complimentary talents, potentially part of the longer term vision but only for as long as they are more valuable as that then as assets. For now, Carter-Williams leads the charge, with Noel and the high 2014 first round pick yet to come.
Those not listed here include Joakim Noah, a high quality two-way centre whose slow start belies his proven quality, the injured Tyson Chandler, and Andrew Bynum, the great unknown who was once a great known. The enigmatic JaVale McGee is also not listed - for all his well documented bursts of ineffectiveness, the position must surely be deep if he is not one of the 20 centers in the NBA - as well as quality role players such as Anderson Varejao, Zaza Pachulia, Sam Dalembert and Chris Kaman. Even further down, proven veterans struggling with either injury (Andrew Bogut) or misuse (Omer Asik) are also left off, as are some up-and-coming youngsters (Steven Adams, Greg Smith, Kosta Koufos).
The names listed are often young, too. Davis is 20-years-old, Valanciunas 21, Lopez 25, Monroe 23. Most of the others listed are in their primes - Hibbert is 27, Pekovic 28, Howard 28, Marc Gasol 29, Noah 28. The older generation are still represented well, too - a 37-year-old Tim Duncan is still remarkably effective in limited minutes, and while Pau Gasol has trailed in little brother's shadow for a while now, he still posts a double-double in only 28 minutes a game at age 33.
Even Spencer Hawes (15.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg) is showing signs of life.
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