Apollo, I agree that finishing one spot off the bottom is a concern. In an ideal world, Clarke would have made greater strides with his personnel this season. But it is what it is and we have to hope the club is able to build on the positives and learn from what didn't work the past two seasons.
There is no doubt that we could lose DJ and Creek. If that keeps happening then we may as well give up, because if we can't afford to do that, how can we possibly afford to buy in a team of stars to flip the switch and take us straight to a grand final?
To me, its not about keeping together 80% of the roster year after year either. You only have to hang on to those elite 'difference makers' when you find them. The rest of the guys are interchangeable and should be brought in to feed off the strengths of your core players.
The one great thing about this season is we now know DJ is the real deal. Prior to this season, I can't remember the last time the Sixers had a young player I truly believed could dominate the league.
So the way I see it, you take DJ and try to turn up at least one other elite piece next season. If you can find two, then I think all of a sudden this team will go from the bomb shelter to the playoffs, regardless of the coach.
That's why I said sometime back that if we had picked up a guard at the level of Gary Ervin instead of Warren, we'd probably be playoff bound. The Hawks last season with Ervin, were actually a top 3 team. When he got injured they lost a bunch of games, which took them out of contention. Look at them this year. Still the same core, proven players in Sav, Oscar, Soup, Davidson, etc. Propping up the ladder all season. Those guys, good as they are, can't create their own shot without a difference maker like Ervin to draw the D and set them up.
Likewise, Cairns really aren't a great team, but they win enough games because they have a top notch guard in Wilson and two pretty good bigs in Crosswhite and Loughton. If they get a crap import guard next season, watch them free fall too.