HoopsHype.com Interviews

Billy King: "We have a chance to win the division"
by Marc Narducci / September 15, 2004

How do you think the 76ers will fare in the new Atlantic Division that consists of Boston, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and Toronto?

Billy King: I think we have a chance to win the division and it gives us a chance to be one of the top three seeds in the East.

Did Miami do enough by acquiring Shaquille O'Neal to challenge for the Eastern Conference title?

BK: Miami is one of the teams that will be in the mix, but Detroit is the defending NBA champion and a very talented team, so the Pistons will obviously be the favorite.

Do you feel there is a lot more parity in the NBA?

BK: I don't know if there is as much parity as people are suggesting. Everybody looks good in the preseason but once the real games start being played, the stronger teams tend to stand out.

What about your backcourt? You traded Eric Snow and now Allen Iverson will be playing the point guard with second-year player Willie Green the likely starter at shooting guard?

BK: We will be more athletic and offensive minded in the backcourt. Eric did a great job with us and was a great leader, but with our style of play, I don't know if he would have fit in as well. Allen gives us the ability to
push the ball up the floor quickly.

That style of play the Sixers will employ looks to be a pressing, running game under new coach Jim O'Brien, which seems to be a drastic change from the recent past. What is your assessment on the new style?

BK: It will be different and I think it's something the fans will want to see. We will get up and down the court, but also under coach O'Brien, we will be a strong defensive team.

What are your impressions of coach O'Brien?

BK: From the time I hired him until now, I couldn't be more excited to have Jim coaching the team. He is somebody who won't be outworked and I think the players will really enjoy playing his system.

Last season the Sixers were hurt by a lack of depth. How deep do you think this year's team is?

BK: I think we are deeper at every position. One of the things we tried to do was become a more athletic and a better offensive team and I think we have.

First-round draft choice Andre Iguodala displayed great athletic and defensive ability this summer. He also showed that his offensive game will take some time. Can he challenge for playing time on this veteran team?

BK: I think Andre has a great opportunity for minutes, but they will have to be earned. That is what makes this season so exciting because many players are in the same boat and this fierce competition should make our team better.

Last year, the team had little depth at center. Samuel Dalembert figures to be the starter, but you signed Brian Skinner as a free agent to play power forward and center. How does this help the team?

BK: One of the things we needed to address in the offseason was depth in the frontcourt and Brian gives us this with his ability to play two positions. I've always been a fan of players who can play more than one position because it gives your team more versatility and Brian is one of those players.

Do you see a starting lineup of Iverson and Green in the backcourt, Dalembert at center and Kenny Thomas and Glenn Robinson at forward.

BK: Right now, that is how it looks.

With players like Aaron McKie, Iguodala, Kyle Korver, Skinner, Corliss Williamson and Kevin Ollie in projected reserve roles, could the Sixers go 10 deep this year?

BK: That will be up to the coach, but I think were we are going to be able to play a lot of guys, give a lot of defensive looks and have the depth to play an up-tempo game.

Allen Iverson led the U.S. Olympic team in scoring, averaging 13.8 points per game. What are your thoughts about his performance in Athens?

BK: I think Allen did a great job representing our country. He had a great attitude, played hard and turned out to be a great captain and leader for the team.

Are you worried that he suffered a non-displaced fracture of his right thumb during the Olympics even though the injury didn't sideline him from action?

BK: It's not a concern at all because you saw how effective he was playing. I think Allen is going to have a big year.

Do you think the system needs to be changed in picking players for the Olympic team?

BK: People forget that last year when we had the team in place (in the Olympic qualifier) and we beat Argentina by 30 in Puerto Rico. We didn't get to take most of that team to the Olympics. The system is in place. I'm sure we will discuss ways of making things better.

What was the biggest weakness of the U.S. Olympic team?

BK: The players had very little international experience. It is a much different game than they are used to in the NBA and I think everybody who watched the Olympics saw this.

Marc Narducci covers the NBA for the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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