Philadelphia should feel very excited about its Sixers throughout their surprising season thus far. Philly is fluttering around the 7th-8th spot in the Eastern Conference, with the playoff hunt in their eyes. As they are up 6ppg from last years sad 102ppg, which was ranked 25th in the NBA. On defense they are slowly getting better in the league, compared to 24th, like last season with 108 ppg.
The Sixers have lit up teams 25 out of 56 games for 110 or more, and have held opponents to 102 or less 21 times, as of this article. A great improvement for this legendary organization and for the faithful fans that have shoveled out the money to support them on the court.
The have been essentially building from ground zero. Tanking seasons, after being one of the laughing stocks in the league, flipping guys around with lessor value and then taking as many shots at getting star talent on their roster, and it looks like it could be finally starting to pay off. This has been proven with Simmons and Embiid – and possibly Fultz – depending how he looks after his injury. Now Philly needs to move into the next very important phase which will be developing those stars for the team. They will need to continue to work on their young role players as well like Justin Anderson and Richaun Holmes.
As we all obviously know, teams miss on many lottery picks all the time. To be able to find 2 or 3 potential studs in a few drafts, and a great support guy, while only missing on a few random picks, isn’t bad at all. And the Sixers have had some recent draft picks that have been coming together really well, with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Dario Saric. Philadelphia, of course, missed on Maurice Harkless, Samuel Dalembert, and Thabo Sefolosha, all 1st rounders. Which, happens, not every player is going to shine. But, on the whole, the Sixers certainly hit big on Simmons, Embiid and the 6-10 Croatian, Saric. Fans are still patiently waiting for the verdict on 19 year old Fultz.
They have a couple of good veterans, like Robert Covington and J.J. Redick that can make an impact for the younger guys helping them get to the next level of their own game. Passing on their knowledge that they have gained over their time playing at the top level of basketball.
The Sixers have had a very young roster, actually one of the youngest rosters over the last several seasons. With 8 guys under the age of 24 and just a few guys 28 or older, they may lack the experience, but they have the future to look at with wide open eyes filled with hope and promise. It has been shown that a lack of strong leadership can carry a negative impact on younger players. But Redick and Covington bring that to the table.
Joel Embiid has great energy and game time intensity, and he seems to be ready to learn from the cagey vets. Those are great signs for a young player for an organization that has struggled to get to just 30 wins in a season since 2009, winning 30+ games just 3 times since the 2009 season. He can score the ball with ease, at times, and Dario Saric has shown a natural ability to knock down big shots.
But, Simmons has struggled with finding his shot. And he needs to up his belief in his own scoring ability a bit more. With just 13 shots/game, and only 10 games with him taking more than 16 shot attempts, he needs to be a little more aggressive. His passing game and rebounding are extraordinary, but he can become the complete ball player once he nails that.
With him being more reluctant to shoot at times, more pressure falls upon J.J. Redick, Covington, and Saric to be hitting their deep balls to complement Embiid’s down low efforts. And Joel has been awesome, with his 24ppg, 11rpg, and solid defense. Teams have struggled to be able to contain the 23 year olds physical ability. And if the other guys just are not hitting, it’s not going to be nearly enough to beat the top teams in the Conference, the Celtics, the Cavs, or the Raptors.
Simmons should make that push to develop his mid-range game. The Sixers future may depend on it when they keep climbing in the rankings, and get to playoff basketball. Dunks are harder to come by, soft lane drives are tighter windows. Ben needs to improve his awful 30% shooting from 10-16 feet.
Defender don’t seem to feel the need to play him straight up. Teams will keep giving him 15-18 foot looks, because they won’t feel he will take it. In 2018 where 3 pointers are a fluid part of the NBA – Ben has shot just 10 all season. Which lands him at the bottom on his team for guys playing 25 or more minutes/game. And his shooting pct is far from something to smile about, as of this article, he hasn’t hit a 3ball yet. With 8rpg and 7apg – Simmons brings a great flow to the team, he just needs to find his shot and grow confidence. Once he eventually gets a hold of that, the sky could be the limit for the 6-10 PG.
This Sixers team is certainly on the immediate rise but who will be their true leader?
Whoever takes on that prestigious role for the 69 year old franchise, will be welcomed by the Philly fans, and heralded as royalty to a team that has needed a leader in a serious and desperate way.
Categories: NBA Hoops