If you told someone that your basketball team was 24-2 at home you would expect that statement to be followed up with something like “and they are the favorites to win there Conference. What you would not expect is to hear that this team most likely will not make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately this is the general consensus with the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2019-2020 season as they boast a below average record on the road. 9-19 on the road is enough to drop the Sixers out of the top 4 in the playoff hunt in the East which means they will see more away games than home games. This could spell disaster for a team that to start the season had championship aspirations.
Issues with Coaching
After two years of this team being a big time contender and coming up short the fans were extremely excited about the new additions that were added to the roster before the season. Al Horford who can play both the 4 and 5 position and had been Joel Embiid’s achilles heel for years. We all knew that he was a defensive pickup as he has never averaged over 14ppg but to see him fall to his lowest average points per game in his career is disturbing. On a team with other super star players you would expect he would draw less attention and would be able to take advantage of having less pressure put on his shoulders.
In his career with Philadelphia Joel Embiid has seen his name rise to a top player in the league. He is considered one of the most dominant big men in the league and is treated as so. This year though he has seen a nearly 5 point per game regression from last year. Going from over 27 points per game to only slightly more than 22 per game is a big problem for this team.
The only player on this team that seems to have stayed consistent on this team is Ben Simmons. He has the exact same points per game this year as he did last year. Unfortunately he has stayed consistent in other ways as well. Refusing to shoot from outside of 6 feet is becoming a point of disappointment in his game. Teams know that he is going to drive or dish the ball and it is causing the lane to become clogged. With Horford not being the best of shooters and Simmons refusing to shoot Embiid is having to take on more of a shooting roll than one would like. While Embiid is not bad at shooting but because he is needed for this he is taken out of position and is not the greatest at driving the lane.
Tobias Harris seems to be the only player on this roster that has seen an uptick in his numbers. Even though it is small he has averaged just less than a point more this season than last. But when you compare that to the drop off other players have had this is not enough to make up for it.
When you look at this you can say it is the players not doing their jobs and they do hold their share of the blame for these issues. With that in mind let me ask you this simple question. Could you see these issues happening on a team lead by Gregg Popovich? Could you imagine if a player plain and simple refused to do what a coach asked him to do on the court and did not have a good excuse for why? Could you imagine Tim Duncan having to be a three point shooter? To me this all boils down to a failure in coaching, a coach that wants his players to like him more than they respect him. A coach that has no idea how to get his team ready to compete when the home crowd is not there to fire them up. A coach that does not know how to game plan for the players he has, instead runs the same generic scheme out on the court night after night hoping that magically his players will start doing what they have never done. When you couple this with the fact that Jimmy Butler refused to stay in Philly because of Brown you start to get the picture that Brown just might not be the coach the 76ers need.
With talent usually comes ego. Simmons, Embiid, and Butler all have this negative attribute. The 76ers need a coach that can reign players in when they start thinking they are good enough that evolving their game is not necessary. Jimmy Butler saw this first hand and wanted nothing to do with sticking around Philly to see it crumble.
Joel Embiid as stated previously is a big time player who commands big time respect. WHEN HE IS USED PROPERLY! When you have a Big Man who is simply dominant in the post that player should not be at the top of the key shooting Threes more than once or twice a game. Embiid needs to reel in his ego and start playing the game the way that he is built to play it the best. Stay down low and wait for the ball to be force fed to you!
Ben Simmons is a magician with the ball in his hands, combining masterful passing with insane explosiveness to get to the rim he can be a nightmare to guard. The one downfall of his game is he refuses to shoot the ball. This is such an issue because it causes the rest of the team to see tighter defense. When a defender can drop to Ten feet from the basket and wait for you to pass or drive it makes it allot harder down low for your Center. This clogs the lane which in turn makes it harder for Ben to drive. What’s funny about this situation is that Ben can shoot. We have seen it in small glimpses this year. He has made multiple three’s and looked pretty smooth doing it. The issue is that he doesn’t want to shoot. When given the opportunity he will pass the ball every single time. Is this that he can’t stand the thought of failing and being laughed at? If that is the case he needs to reel in his ego as well and realize this team will not go to the big dance until he puts the team first.
Ben Simmons has gotten better at Free Throw shooting. Coming into this year he was just over 50% now he is shooting at over 70% which is a giant leap that (hold your breath) may transition into him having more confidence to shoot the ball in regulation.
Embiid even while being asked to do things that are not necessarily maximizing his skill set is still a dominant player on both the offensive and defensive end of the court.
Mattice Thybulle was not a name expected to be called when the Sixers were up to pick in the 2019 draft. In fact I’m sure allot of fans were left scratching their heads and turning to Google and YouTube to find any kind of info on this kid. Well it turns out he was a great pickup, being a borderline all pro defensive player in his rookie year and proving to be a decent three point shooter I would expect him to end up being very much like a Danny Green type of player.
The Sixers seem to be decently built to handle injury. With Embiid missing time due to a dislocated finger the team seemed to be able to pick up the slack. Simmons did have more room to work in the paint. Because of this teams had a harder time defending the perimeter.
Prediction for 2019-2020
The Sixers will find their way into the fourth seed for the playoffs. This will allow them to play 4 of of 7 at home in the first round. They will make it out of this round probably not all that convincingly as we will most likely face Jimmy Butler and the Heat. After this my guess would be that we will have to face the Bucks with the Greek Freak and this is where the Sixers run will come to an end. Facing the number one team in the East with more road games than home games I don’t see us making it out of this round.