By Chris Murray
For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report
When the Philadelphia 76ers acquired 7-foot center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers and Jason Richardson from the Orlando Magic, it capped off what Sixers’ head coach Doug Collins and general manager Rod Thorn characterized as a successful off-season in terms of filling needs and helping the team build off last year’s run to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“Anywhere I’ve been I’ve never really had that guy that you throw the ball down in the post, play through him and he’ll give you possibly 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds) every night, he’ll be able to block shots and rebound,” Collins said. “Obviously, we’ve become a power team. … The day we met after our last game, we wanted to get bigger, more athletic on the front line and we’ve added more shooting.”
On Wednesday, Bynum and Richardson received a huge welcome from about 1,000 cheering Sixers fans who gathered at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall at a public press conference for the team’s newest acquisitions.
Outside of the Lakers new center Dwight Howard, the Sixers got the league’s second best center in Bynum. Last year, he had a breakout season with the Lakers averaging 18.7 points per game while pulling 11 rebounds per game while playing with superstars like Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. He said he embraces the opportunity to being the no. 1 scoring option in the Sixers offense.
“I’m looking forward to it because it’s the next step in my career in my progression as a basketball player,” Bynum said. “For a little while in the Denver series (the Lakers) used me as a main option. It’s going to be a lot more exciting, a lot more fun playing, knowing everything is going to be run through me.”
In addition to his ability to score in the low post as well as defend and rebound in the paint, Bynum’s presence should make things easier for the Sixers to find open spaces for their shooters.
After parting ways with players like Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala, the Sixers will have better set of shooters than they had last year. Richardson will be the team’s shooting guard this season. Last year with the Magic, the former Michigan State star averaged 11 points per game and shot 36 percent from 3-point range.
“I just want to help this team win games, provide some veteran leadership and help the guys out,” Richardson said.
Coming off the bench for the Sixers will be players like Nick Young, who averaged 16.6 points in 40 games with the Washington Wizards and 9.7 points per game in 22 games with the Los Angeles Clippers. He shot 37 percent from 3-point range. Dorell Wright, who averaged 10 points per game with the Golden State Warriors last season. In the 2010-2011 season, Wright averaged 16 points per game and led the NBA in three point baskets made.
“Dorell was one of the most improved players in the NBA, he really can shoot the three,” Collins said. “I think he’s a guy that if we want to go to a smaller lineup and use him as a part of a shooting lineup. We could have Jrue (Holiday), Richardson, Nick Young and Dorell. That’s four guys who can shoot the ball.
With all the new pieces joining the returning players from last season, Collins said he is confident that the team will come together as unit by the time of their season-opener in October against the Denver Nuggets.
“I think everybody’s going to be committed early,” Collins said. “What we’re going to try to do is to guys to come in after Labor Day so they can get a chance to workout together and get to know one another …We’re going to hit the ground running. Everyday in practice is going to be important for us.”