Same name, same jersey, but a whole new Elton Brand

If you didn’t see the name on the back of Elton Brand’s jersey, or know that he is making $16 million this season, you might think the Sixers have a real player.

Not a superstar, but a guy that can score with his back to the basket and provide tough rebounding. After what Brand has given the Sixers in the previous two seasons, this year’s start has been a huge step forward.

“He’s been playing so well for us, he’s been terrific all year long,” coach Doug Collins said.

In an ugly November loss to the Raptors, Brand picked point guard Jose Calderon clean, near mid-court, and took it the length of the court for a layup. It’s the kind of play he just didn’t seem capable of during his first two years with the Sixers.

“Feeling healthier,” Brand explained. “Got my legs back. That steal from Calderon and beat him down the court … point guard speed, you know? But I just want it to correlate into wins.”

Ah, wins. Although Brand is playing better, he still isn’t a go-to guy in crunch time.

“We don’t have that guy you can go to, and I don’t say that to discourage our guys. … We really just don’t have that guy that’s going to make that play,” said Collins.

And there’s the rub. Brand is making plays, but not the play.

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