The Answer has a new playmate. The question is, Will they share?
By Jack McCallum
Team Page | Conference ranking: 7 | Overall ranking: 15
A new season, a new sidekick for Allen Iverson. This time it's Glenn (Big Dog) Robinson who is charged with watching the Answer's back. In Iverson's seven seasons the Sixers have gone through Jerry Stackhouse, Toni Kukoc, Larry Hughes and Keith Van Horn in their search for someone to fill it up when the shooting touch of the league's Little Big Man goes awry, which is fairly frequently. In Robinson, a career 21.1-points-per-game scorer, Iverson has his most reliable aide-de-camp.
Iverson also has someone who will reliably hoist it almost as frequently as he does. Last season he took a shot every 1.7 minutes, Dog every 2.1. Will this be a problem? "A lot of people have been talking about how we're going to have trouble sharing the ball," says Robinson. "C'mon, I played [in Milwaukee] with Sam Cassell and Ray Allen. That was three guys who had to share it."
Iverson does seem genuinely glad to have Robinson by his side after a frustrating 2002-03 season. For the first time in his career Iverson was healthy enough to play every game, yet his scoring average (27.6) was his lowest since 1998-99 and his shooting percentage (41.4) was the third worst of his career. With the 6'7" Robinson drawing frequent double teams -- Big Dog is nowhere near as electric as Iverson, but he is a career 46.0% shooter -- Iverson will have little excuse for not improving his accuracy.
Robinson has already uttered the three magic words in Philadelphia: "It's Allen's team." With a solid backcourt mate (Eric Snow), a third-guard option (Aaron McKie) and at least three proven frontcourt players (Derrick Coleman, Kenny Thomas and Marc Jackson), let's see how far Iverson can take his team -- with man's best friend at his side.
An opposing team's scout sizes up the 76ers
"What can they expect to get out of 36-year-old Derrick Coleman at center? He's coming off a tremendous year, but I wonder how much that had to do with Larry Brown's positive way of dealing with him. They've gone from having shot blockers like Theo Ratliff and Dikembe Mutombo to having no presence in the middle.... Kenny Thomas is an active power forward and a nice rebounder, but he's undersized and isn't going to dominate anybody inside.... Rookie coach Randy Ayers has been a Philly assistant for the last six years, so he knows that he can't change Allen Iverson. All he can do is try to appease him and trust that Iverson wants to prove he can win without Brown.... Iverson is the second-best player in the East behind Tracy McGrady. There is no one with a bigger heart than Iverson, and while he probably sets a bad example with his practice habits and off-the-court stuff, he sets a very high standard when it comes to playing hurt and playing hard every game.... Iverson will be thrilled to have a scorer like Glenn Robinson -- so long as Big Dog understands he's going to be the Number 2 option every night. Though Robinson rebounds well, he isn't tough. He'd rather take the jumper than go hard to the hole.... They're going to run, which might help a declining team like this generate energy. You see it all the time: Players who can't get inspired to play defense will suddenly perk up when they have a chance to get out and dunk.... Eric Snow is their most stable force, but it's going to be interesting to see if he can make the transition to the running game. He's a guy in Brown's image who values controlling the ball.... They're going to have a honeymoon at the beginning, but when things aren't going so well, who is going to step in, settle them down and get them to play the hard defense? "
Issue date: October 27, 2003