Sixers fans will be excited to have TJ McConnell back in the building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New year, new decade, (hopefully) new Sixers. 2019 ended on quite a sour note, but the beginning of 2020 offers the Sixers a chance to right the wrongs that have them no better than 25-16 right now. They are 2-3 to begin 2020, but each player, individually, can make some changes that would help the group collectively achieve its goal when all is said and done. 

Here is one reasonable resolution for every Sixer in 2020.

Joel Embiid

To be fair, Embiid is averaging a career-low 3 turnovers per game through the first half of the season. While fans criticize Embiid’s lack of improvement, that statistic is evidence that the center has put in the work necessary to clean up issues that have plagued him in the past.

Having said that, 33% of his turnovers come in the fourth quarter. 20% of his total turnovers (or, 60% of his fourth quarter turnovers) come in crunch time when the difference in the score is five points. The context of the time and situation inflates just how big of an issue his turnovers are, and, therefore, minimize the fact that he has shown improvement in that category.  

Embiid can cut down on his crunch time turnovers by simply keeping the ball high above his head when he’s posting up, trying to protect the ball when the defense traps, or when he thinks an intentional foul is coming. At seven-feet tall, keeping the ball above his head makes it nearly impossible for defenders to steal it from him without fouling. If he doesn’t benefit from a foul being called, then he is at least in position to see over the defender’s head and make the pass to an open man or shoot over him if the opportunity is there.

Holding the ball above his head also naturally keeps his elbows from swinging recklessly to thwart off pesky swipes, making him less susceptible from making contact with a defender and getting called for an offensive foul. While he has improved his footwork to the point where he’s making definitive pivots and avoiding traveling violations, he still has yet to break this habit: 

Embiid initially does a great job of keeping the ball high and exhibits success with maintaining control despite the triple-team in his face. Then, after pivoting to turn his back towards the pressuring defenders, he brings the ball low, making himself vulnerable to having it poked loose. Jimmy Butler takes advantage of the mistake, and disaster strikes.

For a team with an average point differential of +3.3, every turnover has the potential to dramatically alter how the last five minutes of the game play out. 

Ben Simmons

If you go on the world’s most toxic social media platform and infiltrate the borough occupied by the Philadelphia faithful, you will see a large neighborhood of people who would trade Ben Simmons for pennies on the dollar because of his unwillingness to attempt jump shots. You will also see a neighborhood that recognizes all of Ben’s strengths as elite and is willing to take his weaknesses in conjunction with his strengths.

I reside in the latter neighborhood.

Ben Simmons is not an elite scorer, but he is an elite all-around player. He is shooting 34.375% on 96 attempts greater than five feet away from the basket, but 64.7% on attempts from within five feet. He’s not attempting an adequate number of jumpers because he isn’t confident in his ability to make them, and the statistical evidence tells him that he shouldn’t be confident, either. So, which would be more beneficial to the Sixers–Ben throwing up shots that he doesn’t believe will go in, or deciding that he is going to be assertive every time he attacks the basket?

Again, the latter prevails. 

It’s Not About The Jump Shot

For two-and-a-half seasons, the talk has been “If Ben Simmons gets a jump shot, watch out!” Well, that probably won’t come this year; it might not happen next year; it might never happen. What can happen, and what has happened, is Simmons deciding that he is going to get to the rim and no one is going to stop him from doing so. That Ben Simmons, without attempting any jump shots, has made the offense look elite whenever he awakens that alter ego. The Ben Simmons that is aggressive is a superstar whenever he shows up.

In 2020, it’s not about a Ben Simmons that forces up unnatural jumpers that he has no confidence in, like this one:

It’s about a Ben Simmons that is consistently aggressive; one that changes pace and shifts directions to gain an edge on his defender and finishes a strong take at the rim every time the opportunity presents itself:

This wouldn’t be bad either:

Neither would this:

 

Tobias Harris

It’s been an up-and-down first full season in Philadelphia for the $180 million man. Although Harris is often the target of slander by emotional Twitter users, the fact of the matter is that Harris has done his job. Averaging 19.5 points per game, Harris is the team’s second-leading scorer and, shooting 44% on field goals attempted after at least three dribbles, primary perimeter shot-creator. At a time when it has become clear that the team lacks players who can both shoot and dribble (and sometimes in sequence) is a major concern, the forward needs to be more selfish.

Shooters Shoot

Being selfish is, of course, rarely a good trait to have in basketball. However, the Sixers’ misfitting roster is composed of players who won’t shoot, can’t be relied upon to make a high volume of shots, or can make shots only if they are simply catching and shooting the basketball. As a result, the offense often clogs itself by compounding missed shots. With Harris and Trey Burke being the only players who can feasibly create jump shots off-the-dribble, it is time for Harris to become more aggressive and take food off of his teammates’ plates. With the roster as currently constructed, Harris is going to have to be more aggressive and hunt shots as a creator in order to help the team snap out of its offensive woes. 

He can keep it as simple and concise as a few productive dribbles and quick footwork: 

Or, he can lore his mismatch out to the perimeter, change speeds to turn the corner on his isolated defender, and finish strong at the rim:

 

Al Horford

When the Sixers signed the veteran big man this summer, they envisioned using him as a floor-stretching power forward. As has been said countless times by countless members of the media, Horford was going to form a twin-tower duo with Embiid on the floor and hold down the fort with him off of it. Oh, the glorious images our minds conjured up–Horford/Embiid high-low passes when one had a mismatch in the paint, Embiid beating double-teams with weak-side passes for a Horford triple, and even Horford running the fast break and lobbing to Embiid for finishes. Those are just some of the plays I thought of once the roster took its shape.

Fast forward to 2020, and the Sixers have lost nine of fourteen. We’ve recently realized that the team’s offense actually hurts its defense–when shots aren’t falling, the Sixers become lethargic, and their defensive energy is zapped. A significant factor in their recent offensive struggles has been spacing; as the court has become tighter for the Sixer offense, buckets have been increasingly difficult to come by. Al Horford can help this by being more aware of his positioning so as to maximize spacing.

Horford’s lack of positional awareness at times can take options away from his teammates, such as directional attacks: 

Horford floats toward Embiid, bringing Jonathan Isaac closer to the isolation and effectively helping Vucevic defend. Horford’s positioning eliminates any possibility of Embiid attacking right, and an attack left was taken away by Harris’ cut across the paint. As a result, Embiid settles for a wing jumper.

Horford’s positioning also causes his teammates to turn the ball over:

In this instance, Horford cuts into the paint and then stops under the basket instead of clearing all the way through and fading into the far corner. Pascal Siakam, who is Horford’s primary defender, simply follows his man on his route around the court. But because Horford stops under the basket, Siakam becomes the primary help defender on Simmons as soon as he receives the pass from Harris on the cut. Simmons has the right idea here, attempting to feed his big man right under the basket with a mismatch, but Horford’s positioning puts Ben in no man’s land, and his pass is deflected by Siakam and ultimately stolen by O.G. Anunoby.

Age Isn’t An Excuse

Horford has not performed anywhere near a $109 million player; perhaps that’s just a natural decline, and the Sixers were just foolish for overpaying a 33-year-old. While some of his regression–such as missing a high number of shots short, committing uncharacteristic fouls and turnovers, and being a non-factor in the rebounding game against bigger matchups–is part of aging, positioning and spacing is something that he can fix by simply being mindful on the court and paying attention to detail.

Josh Richardson

When you’re a child learning the game of basketball, one of the first things coaches teach you is, whatever you do, do not stop moving on the basketball court. If the ball is not in your hands, do not just stand still. Hell, even Jackie Moon knew it–when Ed Monix ran the Tropics’ first legitimate practice, Moon was too tired to keep going. So, he decided to “go rover” on the court. 

Keep Moving

Whether you’re screening, cutting, or replacing an open spot on the court, you’re always moving. If you stand around, the offense becomes lethargic and clogs. Moving well off-ball is a skill, and it helps the offense flow freely.

Rollercoaster

Josh Richardson has had ups and downs this season. His Sixers’ tenure started off slowly as he adjusted to the offensive scheme, and then he missed an extended period of time due to injury. Then, he struggled for a few games, and has begun to rediscover his stroke. To his credit, when the shots aren’t falling for Richardson, he does look to have a positive impact by finding his teammates for open looks and defending the ball at a very high level. 

Court Vision

Despite making some errant passes resulting from the growing pains of not being used to playing point guard, Richardson’s passing has been a welcomed addition. It has enabled Brett Brown to run more pick-and-rolls with either of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as screeners. Richardson’s arrival has given the Sixers a viable offensive strategy in crunch time that will allow both Ben Simmons to stay on the court and the offense to not completely suffer. 

While the optionality that Richardson has provided in his first season in Philadelphia has been refreshing, he could help prevent the offense from clotting by simply being aware of his off-ball movement. Perhaps as a side effect of trying to figure out his fit in the offense, Richardson has developed the bad habit of standing around when the ball is not in his hands. This has the effect of allowing the defense to constrict around the ball and limit what the ball-handler can do: 

Richardson stands by the Toyota Center logo motioning directions as to where the ball should go, but he doesn’t move at all. As a result, Russell Westbrook is able to stay in a perfectly mutual help position and, thus, Tobias Harris has no line of attack. If Richardson had faded just a few steps towards Ben Simmons or filled the spot that Horford moved away from when he stretched to the corner, it would’ve opened up a different opportunity for Harris. Embiid made the shot, but the example remains.

Good off-ball movement not only opens opportunities for the other players on the court, but it also puts the mover in a position to score that wouldn’t have otherwise been there:

Richardson slides ten feet to the left when he sees Simmons attack baseline. Josh runs Markelle Fultz into the Horford screen and puts himself in position for an open corner triple. That look would not have been there had it not been for Richardson’s off-ball movement. 

Off-ball movement is simply a matter of awareness, but it has a significant impact on the flow of the team’s offense. 

Matisse Thybulle 

The rook has been the Sixers’ best player off the bench for the vast majority of his first season. His length, athleticism, and motor have made him a terror for opposing offenses, as he swarms and deflects his way into easy transition opportunities for Philadelphia. He’s also shooting 43.7% from deep, annihilating all expectations for his shooting ability coming into the season.

Thybulle has been quite close to perfect in his first season, but his  lack of disciplined body control has been a big weakness thus far. Although he has reduced his fouls committed per game in each of the first three months of the season, he could viably make a case for starting minutes (if Horford continues to struggle) if he cuts down on committing bad fouls resulting from undisciplined body control.

Thybulle has shown a tendency to ride his assignment over the screen in hopes of deflecting a jump shot attempt. He’s run into trouble with ball-handlers who are skilled at probing, changing speeds, or sensing contact from behind. 

On Saturday, Doncic made Thybulle pay for his lack of discipline: 

This time, he slides over to help and is just a bit overly aggressive with his attempt to block Jalen Brunson’s pull-up:

Matisse has also been a victim of Kemba’s savvy awareness on the latter side of the screen:

On the other hand, there have been times when Thybulle has exhibited great body discipline and timed his jumps very well. Here, he gets his revenge against Kemba:

The best way to prevent bad fouls on jump-shooters is to close out with control and, most importantly, run past the shooter (instead of into or through the shooter):

If Thybulle can make a habit of closing out past a shooter, instead of into the shooter, to block shots, like he does here, he will be a significant source of frustration for opposing guards come playoffs:

 

Furkan Korkmaz

The emergence of Furkan Korkmaz has been nothing short of a massive surprise. The third-year guard is averaging 8 points per game and converting nearly 38% of his triples. He is playing significant minutes on a nightly basis, has become a reliable source of fourth quarter spacing, and has not been a complete and utter sore thumb on the defensive end. 

However, if Korkmaz is going to receive significant minutes come playoff time, he will need to cut down on his shooting fouls, particularly the volume of and-1s he gives up.

And-1s

There are a few factors that contribute to committing and-1s. First and foremost, the defender is simply too slow. The only way to keep up with the attacker is to defend with hands, and that almost always ends up with a blown whistle.

Second, the defender lacks the discipline to contest the attack with his body completely vertical. Defenders naturally want to protect, and that is conveyed with outstretched hands. However, intelligent offensive players will wait for the defender to guard with his arms out, and they’ll use that to forge their own contact and earn the foul.

Finally, and-1s typically happen because the defender lacks the upper body strength to completely inhibit the shooter when he commits the foul. Coaches typically preach that, when fouling a shooter around the basket, you need to foul hard enough that they can’t get the ball within reasonable distance of the basket. 

The problem with Korkmaz is that all of those factors make him an and-1 waiting to happen. 

Here, he contests with his arms out:

This time, Aaron Gordon completely overpowers him (although, he misses the shot so it’s just a two-shot foul):

Finally, Korkmaz isn’t fast enough to cut off McConnell’s attack and hip checks him to prevent an easy layup.

Even with those weaknesses rendering Korkmaz highly susceptible to committing and-1 fouls, there is a disciplined way to defend well when one is as disadvantaged as Korkmaz often is–deflecting shot attempts before the shooter can even get the ball high enough to shoot. It is classified as a steal, and some of the league’s slower guards have become serviceable defenders by mastering the art of poking the ball loose before the shot goes up. 

Korkmaz will do it from time to time but not often enough to outweigh the number of and-1s he commits. Here, he gets his hand on the ball before Langston Galloway can get the ball above his chest:

If Korkmaz proves that he can consistently sense out those subtle steal opportunities, he can make himself into a fixture in the playoff rotation.

Mike Scott

The king of the hive has had a very rocky first half of the season. He connected on 41.7% of his triples in October, then watched his percentage plummet to 30.2% in November, then sky-rocket to 38.3% in December, and then die off to 26.7% in January. Scott’s lack of athleticism and skill (outside of shooting) render him essentially useless if his shot isn’t falling. Seeing as Scott has been wildly inconsistent from three-point territory, this one is simple. He needs to find a consistent medium with his shooting, and I believe he would see less dramatic variances in his game-to-game shooting percentages if he stopped rushing his shots.

See, I have a theory that would explain why Mike has been rushing his shots this season. He spent half a season watching J.J. Redick and just about one whole season watching Tobias Harris shoot the basketball. Both have quick strokes, and both are very good shooters. Scott saw what his role would be coming into this season, and adapted his game (consciously or subconsciously) to fit the mold of a prolific three-point shooter. Watching game film and knowing he’d be a pillar of the opposing defense’s game plans as one of the only legitimate shooters on the Sixers, he sped up his shot because he knew he would have less time and room to get shots off as. The result has been extremely frustrating for Scott, the Sixers, and the fanbase.

Mike had a number of good looks last night, beginning with this one:

The only defender to close out on Scott began his move from eighteen feet away. There was no reason to rush. Scott could’ve taken more time and settled into the look. Instead, he released the ball just 64 milliseconds (yes, I timed it) after catching the pass, and missed long.

The space gap shrinks rapidly on this one:

Although Scott might not have had a comfortable amount of space, he was open when he caught the ball and open when he released the shot. It was in his hands for 88 milliseconds.

Aaron Gordon began this close-out from the strong-side block:

Not only is the ball in and out of his hands within 80 milliseconds, but he shortened his usual dip of the ball after the catch. His rushing completely altered his normal mechanics, and he never gave himself a chance to make the shot. This was as good as a turnover.

This was a really good ‘make’ for Mike:

While the ball was only in his hands for 77 milliseconds, he steps laterally to give himself a few feet of additional space, dips the ball normally on the catch, and fires. Bang.

One more for good measure:

The ball makes a pit stop in Mike Scott’s hands for 87 milliseconds before taking flight again. He dips the rock on the catch and releases before the side close-out reaches him. Ample space, no rush, and Scott connects.

When Scott doesn’t jeopardize his mechanics to get off a quick look, he sees consistent success. Of course, many of the open looks he gets come from timely off-ball movement. But, working for good looks that don’t alter the shot base is going to exhibit more consistent makes than will firing off bad looks that change the motion that Scott has grown comfortable with in his NBA career.

James Ennis III

The Menace is not a natural scorer. We’ve seen enough of him to know that suave and slick isn’t what he does. Ennis is going to out-grit-and-grind the defense for his buckets. He’s made a season out of fighting bigger bodies on the offensive glass and cleaning up his teammates’ misses. Connecting on 41.75% of his attempts, Ennis has also been lethal from beyond the arc at either corner.

So, with the Sixers sorely lacking bench scoring and Ennis finding his niche, why isn’t he scoring more than 6.5 points per game? When Ennis scores more than six points, the Sixers are 16-2. So, in 2020, Ennis needs to hunt scoring opportunities. He should not recklessly throw up shots, but he certainly has the physical tools and enough shooting touch to score at least ten points on a nightly basis. For a team with a point differential of just +3.3 per game, that bit of extra production can make a significant difference.

This shouldn’t be difficult for a player who can finish dynamically at the rim:

Trey Burke

With his contract now guaranteed for the remainder of the season, and the recent favor Brett Brown has shown towards him, Burke seems to have found a valuable role in the Philadelphia rotation. Burke is one of only two legitimate shot-creators on the roster, and the Sixers recognize that he fits that need. So, Burke needs to (continue to) supply off-the-dribble scoring.

While the opportunities were not plentiful up until a few weeks ago, Burke has shown that he can be a source of creative scoring in the limited chances he has had. He has raised his scoring each month of the season, and has even served as the spark plug when the team looked lethargic in recent weeks. 

He can provide that spark with quick pull-up jumpers:

He can turn the corner, burst, and kiss it off the glass:

Or, he can create space with quick dribble moves and use footwork to set himself up for deep balls:

Raul Neto

Neto’s lack of spark factor dropped him out of the rotation when the Sixers were exposed to the 2-3 zone defense for the first time. His lack of craftiness became a disadvantage. At 27-years-old, he is what he is. Physically, he’ll never be able to play a role bigger than the one he’s played thus far in the NBA. The shot-creating DNA isn’t there now, so it likely never will be. What Neto can do right now is, when given an opportunity, demonstrate high-IQ passing ability

No more jumping to make passes:

Have the awareness to anticipate help defenders coming, especially when passing to someone as turnover-prone as Joel Embiid is in the post:

Don’t try to make passes that aren’t there:

Low-IQ passes like these, and a lack of dynamic scoring ability, effectively cut Neto out of the rotation. With this team’s weaknesses, I’m not sure there is a path for him to ever get back into it.

Kyle O’Quinn

Once slotted as a big who could give five to eight good minutes every night, O’Quinn’s stay in Philadelphia has been a far cry from what we, and probably he, thought it would be. He only sees minutes if one of Embiid and Horford are unavailable, and, even then, Norvel Pelle is beginning to get those minutes in place of O’Quinn.

While O’Quinn has established a reputation as the consummate professional and ultimate teammate regardless of his role on the basketball court, he is serviceable enough to warrant a small role on a game-to-game basis. It is undoubtedly frustrating for him, as he has demonstrated a shooting touch and a passing skill that would make him a dynamic option for many teams in need of a big. The simple fact of the matter is that there is not enough space for him to get minutes with the other bigs available. When he does get his opportunities, O’Quinn can get himself into the conversation by aggressively hunting blocks.

KOQ has shown that he can time his targets well enough to do so without fouling:

He is long enough and in-control enough to close out and stretch for blocks without fouling:

O’Quinn can also meet opposing bigs at the tops of their shots:

While the opportunities have been minimal for O’Quinn, there will always be a place for someone who shows the ability to protect the rim–whether it be in Philadelphia as a back-up or elsewhere.

Jonah Bolden

Bolden’s situation is an odd one. He was a common rotational piece on a horrendous bench last season. The bench is marginally better this season, and Bolden has spent the entire season inactive or in Delaware. Sure, the Sixers have too many bigs and he is just a victim of that, but it’s not so easily explainable given that Bolden can play some power forward. Don’t get me wrong, he is a walking foul. But, for a team that plays Mike Scott every night, it seems unlikely that Brown and his staff are just satisfied with the production they get at power forward.

I have my theories, but I’m not going to throw around unfounded speculation and fuel potentially false narratives. So, I’m going to leave it at this: Bolden can play his heart out if the opportunity presents itself this season. If he does, he might find himself with a very small role in the regular rotation (likely dependent upon matchups or skills that are conducive to certain situations). 

Shake Milton

Fresh off signing a four-year contract this summer, Milton had a very disappointing Summer League. He was able to shake those memories and impress early in the season. A knee injury sidelined him for two weeks, and Milton hasn’t been able to break into the rotation ever since. When he has, he’s looked unsure of himself and weak. The latter part is odd, given that he’s the exact same height as Josh Richardson and five pounds heavier. Yet, Josh rarely ever looks weak.

When contrasting the two, the obvious difference is that Josh’s skills are more polished and he is more experienced. However, they look different because Richardson is more confident in his game.

Milton showed some confidence before his injury, and then looked lost when he returned to the lineup. So, in 2020, Shake Milton has to rediscover his confidence. A confident Milton is one that isn’t hesitating on his jump shots, is cutting off-ball with purpose and game-paced speed, is attacking slower defenders, and is able to keep his defensive assignment in front of him without fouling. The Milton we’ve seen following his return from injury has committed uncharacteristic turnovers and is weak defensively. Sure, that would’ve been expected in the short-term following his return, but it has been months. When he does get opportunities, he plays to avoid mistakes rather than to turn heads. If he does the latter, we will not have seen the last of Shake Milton in 2019-20. 

Norvel Pelle

By the time some people read this, Pelle may not even be a Sixer anymore. A decision regarding his future with the team will come down tomorrow, and he will either be converted to a regular NBA deal or he will be sent to Delaware for the remainder of the season. According to Keith Pompey, Pelle would immediately have NBA suitors if assigned to Delaware. 

Whatever happens, Pelle has been impressive in his limited action with the NBA club. He has shown remarkable body control and timing when attempting to block shots, and he hasn’t been a pushover in man-to-man defense. Offensively, he’s shown flashes of Nerlens Noel potential with his screens and B-line dives to the basket in anticipation of lobs. 

The one thing that may have made him a necessity on this team is his recovery from poorly timed jumps. Whether it’s in Philly or elsewhere, Pelle could help himself solidify a belonging in the NBA by showing a quickened second jump.

Unfortunately, there is no video of Pelle recovering from poorly timed first jumps, and I’m not going to talk about a nonexistent problem that I can pull video on. So, a poorly timed first jump occurs when the rim protector is baited into elevating for a block on a pump fake. The offensive player, attempting to draw a foul, will go up as the rim protector is coming down, or will attempt his shot as the rim protector hits the floor, knowing that he won’t get elevate again in time to block the shot. This occurs with high jumpers who lack the body controls to defend without fouling or the athleticism and bursts to quickly get off the ground to contest shots with their secondary jumps.

Pelle has committed hard fouls or has given up easy looks at times because he isn’t able to recover quickly enough to protect the basket when the offensive player counters his defense with a fake. The rookie big man, as impressive as his defense has been in his small sample size of NBA action, could be one of the G-League’s gems if he learns how to land softly and cut down on the time he needs to re-elevate.

Zhaire Smith

This is an article on goals, not expectations or predictions. Zhaire Smith will likely never play another game for the 76ers. It’s an unfortunate situation for the youngster, whose career was derailed before it even began due to a nearly-fatal allergic reaction in training camp before the 2018-19 season.

Now, Smith is far behind the curve in his development and has yet to play meaningful NBA minutes this season (or ever, really). The trajectory of his development is completely unaligned with the Sixers’ window. Unable to wait patiently for Smith anymore, a trade appears inevitable. It’s not reasonable to expect a sudden dramatic breakthrough in Zhaire’s skills, but getting closer to being a serviceable NBA player from a physical perspective is certainly doable. Smith currently measures at 199 pounds. Starting shooting guards weigh in at roughly 210 pounds. This season is about getting Zhaire Smith back on the court full-time, but the year 2020 is about preparing his body for the NBA, and that means bulking up.

Brett Brown

The primary shortcoming that has held Brett Brown back in the Sixers’ three seasons of contending is his steadfast loyalty to his own philosophies. Far too often, the Sixers have lost games because the coach does not make adequate or correct in-game adjustments; it’s gotten to the point where Brown’s seat is excruciatingly hot.

Brown can save his job by making necessary in-game adjustments. What does that look like?

5 In-Game Adjustments

  1. When a ball-handler scores eighteen points on mid-range jumpers in the first half, try switching on the screen instead of dropping the big and trusting your on-ball defender to make the pass difficult and your help defense to step in and deter the roller if he finds himself with an advantage deep in the post.
  2. Don’t substitute out the player you just watched score eight points in a row. Feed the hot hand.
  3. Don’t preach increased three-point shooting to players that comprise a horribly inconsistent three-point shooting team.
  4. If the face of the franchise is having an off night, call a play to get him a look on the block so that he can get going with a make or free throws (assuming he gets fouled, of course), rather than allowing him to settle for perimeter jumpers.
  5. Don’t run a laissez faire offense in crunch time, put the ball in the hands of a shot-creator, move Ben Simmons off-ball (*hint*: a pick-and-roll roller, maybe), and run pick-and-rolls.

That’s just a few off of the top of my head.

Elton Brand

Elton Brand is largely responsible for creating this misfitting group, Elton Brand is largely responsible for making the proper roster changes to set this team up for a deep playoff run. We’ve seen the offense dissipate against a zone defense or when perimeter shots are not falling because there isn’t a legitimate shot-creator or consistent three-point shooter on the roster.

Creators can take defenders off-the-dribble and score in a variety of ways, or they can pressure the defense into breaking down and kick to the open shooter. Creators get their own shots and get their teammates more open shots. A shot-creator (with the right mentality) would also give the Sixers a crunch time closer, which is something they sorely lack. As we saw last season, the shot-creating abilities of Jimmy Butler provided the Sixers with the luxury of an excellent pick-and-roll combination, and the same would, theoretically, apply if Brand could swing a deal for an off-the-dribble scorer

Do The Deal

According to Keith Pompey, the Sixers have inquired about Detroit’s Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway, and Derrick Rose. They are also reportedly very interested in Washington’s Davis Bertans. But, my eye is on Sacramento’s Bogdan Bogdanovic, and, according to The Painted Lines’ very own Brian Jacobs, so is the Sixers’.

 

Philadelphia 76ers

Why is it that we have bad memories of the team’s marquee wins and great memories of their most disappointing losses?

I believe it’s because the team has made a season of taking three steps forward and two steps backward. They have some very impressive wins that have been negated by some very concerning losses. Perhaps the most damning issue that leaves the public unsure of what to make of the team is that they lose games to inferior teams because of a lack of effort. In order for the Sixers to advance past the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2020 and establish themselves as an elite team, they must, first and foremost, stop playing down to competition.