Doug Collins, Lou Williams

Have the 76ers tuned out Doug Collins?


Philadelphia has lost four of its last six games — including a blowout 20-point loss to Toronto at home — and has surrendered its lead in the Atlantic division. The 76ers are just sliding backwards and have been since the All-Star break.

Why? Former Sixers beat writer (now of ESPN) Kate Fagan has an interesting theory about the young team and detail-oriented coach Doug Collins that she put on her personal blog (via TrueHoop).

Since around early March, guys on the team have struggled with Doug Collins’ coaching style. Look, we all knew at the beginning of last year, when Collins took over this young team, that he had a history of turning around young squads. And we also knew that he had (sometimes as early as the second season) a history of over-coaching, at which point his players tend to become frustrated and tune him out. The Sixers have been struggling with this for at least a month, if not longer. This has led to heated interactions, sometimes even in the middle of games….

And a difficult stretch in the schedule exacerbates everything. The Sixers took some losses, things became strained, and now you’re seeing the effects of all of that behind-the-scenes turmoil. It’s manifesting itself in 20 point losses to bad teams. So that’s the “why” of this last month. The “what comes next” is still up in the air.

There is much more there you should go read — Fagan talks about the culture clash in the organization. It’s not that they don’t have a go-to scorer at the end of games, it’s that people are confused about their roles on the court and with the franchise. Good stuff.

Right now the Sixers seem destined to be the seven or eight seed in the East, getting swept aside easily in the first round of the playoffs by the Bulls or Heat.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.