How will Sixers replace Iguodala's elite defense?
To view this site, you need to have Flash Player 9.0.115 or later installed. Click here to get the latest Flash player.
During the past two seasons, Sixers head coach Doug Collins always had an answer. If his team was going against a team with a great scorer, he could handle it with just one player.
Collins could take Andre Iguodala and put him on bigger players like Paul Pierce or Joe Johnson, as well as guards like Andre Miller or Rip Hamilton. Iguodala could guard anyone, and it was his ability to play defense that earned him a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
But with Iguodala now playing for Denver, the Sixers no longer have that elite-level defender on the perimeter. Oh sure, they more than make up for it with defense in the paint with Andrew Bynum. But Bynum isn’t going to come out on the wing to try and take on Pierce or Johnson.
Just how are the Sixers going to replace Iguodala’s defense?
“By committee,” Collins said. “We’ll have to figure that out when we get started. Evan [Turner] will do it some, [Jason Richardson] will do it some and Dorell Wright will do it some. We’ll use Thad [Young] in that position a little bit.”
Turner would seem to be the guy to step up since he has taken on the task of guarding players like LeBron James and Derrick Rose in the past. Turner also defines himself as a “playoff-type player,” so it seems as if he has the mindset for defense, too.
Still, Collins said the Sixers also have to trap and double team on the perimeter more than in the past. Last season, there were instances when Iguodala was simply left alone to do all the dirty work on defense by himself, with not much help from his teammates.
However, now that Collins and the Sixers have all of that depth on the perimeter, they are going to have to use it.
“The great luxury we had with 'Dre was that he was always able to take that guy,” Collins explained. “So that’s something we’ll have to work on every day. One of the things that we do defensively is that we can trap or double. We haven’t had to do that much at that position, but if we have to, we will. We’ll work on that.”
Meanwhile, Turner will have to adjust to playing without Iguodala. It took the pair a while to get on the same page when Turner joined the team in 2010. Iguodala chalked it up to a personality clash that he and Turner resolved with some dinners together and workouts. Eventually, the pair became a pretty solid duo.
"'Dre and I started getting used to each other," Turner said. "We enjoyed playing together at the end. We started playing great defensively together. 'Dre and I, we tended to mold better depending on the game. We just needed the rock. Sometimes when Jrue [Holiday] gets going he turns more into a scorer than a distributor and then me and 'Dre started to mold together much better.”
So how will Turner do when he’s left alone to do some of the work that Iguodala had to do in the past? According to Turner, it should go pretty well with regular playing time. Iguodala once said that Turner was a player who needed to have his confidence built up in order to perform well, so the extra minutes that should fall his way will be beneficial in that regard.
“I’m glad I get to play. I’ve been off for two years, and I have to get my rhythm back,” Turner explained. “Fitting in and trying to get your minutes set takes a toll on your game, so I’m trying find my niche and find my role and keep trying to get better.”E-mail John Finger at firstname.lastname@example.org