Elton Brand has shown no ill effects from the torn left Achilles that forced him to miss most of last season.
David E. Klutho/SI
For the second straight season the Sixers finished last in the NBA in three-pointers made, connecting on just 302 (out of 952 attempts). Team leader Andre Iguodala's total of 101 threes ranked 58th in the league.
Record: 40-42 (7th in East) Points scored: 96.6 (23rd in NBA) Points allowed: 96.2 (7th)
This scrappy team is no longer hurting in the half-court, thanks to a Brand-name signing
Like Van Halen and Sammy Hagar or MLS and David Beckham, the 76ers andElton Brand were a match made of necessity. Despite winning 22 of its final 34games last year, Philly was exposed in the first round of the playoffs by thePistons, who dictated tempo in the six-game series. "Our running game carried usin the regular season," says Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski, "but Detroitbeat us up in the half-court. Finding some help in the off-season was our toppriority."
Enter Brand, a 6-foot-8, 265-pound power forward who signed a five-year,$82 million contract in July. A deadly low-post threat (he had careeraverages of 20.3 points and 10.2 rebounds before last season, when he missed allbut eight games after rupturing his left Achilles tendon), Brand single-handedlytransforms the Sixers into one of the league's most dangerous half-court teams."He can score in the paint, he can take his man off the dribble, and he is avery underrated passer," says coach Maurice Cheeks. "He can really do itall."
A minor concern is whether Brand will slow a potent running attack, whichaccounted for 18.2 fast-break points per game last season, third in the league.Brand, 29, says he is about "70 percent comfortable" with the 76ers' system, andthough he makes his living on the blocks, he is agile enough to get up and downthe court -- which means that, while Cheeks has added more low-post sets, theSixers won't have to abandon their hyperkinetic style. "We're going to try toget out and run every time," says Cheeks. "We're not going to slow down onebit." -- Chris Mannix
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