After a disappointing start and a 7-7 record one month into the season, Embiid’s stellar level of play has recently allowed the team and the fans to hope for an imminent return to the top places. But before rushing into anything, let’s observe where the Sixers currently stand statistically compared to the rest of the league. What does it says about the team, its tendencies and its course of improvement?
1) Transition struggles on both ends
It was also the case last year and we already figured that they’ll never be a run-and-gun team, but the Sixers are still the fourth slowest-paced team in the league. What’s shocking is that there’s a direct correlation between being able to force turnovers and the overall pace, but in spite of their ability to generate turnovers (7th best in the league), the Sixers play at a bottom-five pace off steals. That deprives them from capitalizing on their transition opportunities (23rd rank in transition points per game). The Sixers should absolutely try to up their tempo; having a solid early offense is needed and it could help with their numerous problems in the half court!
This squad’s defensive retreat has also been dreadful, allowing the sixth most points in transition.
2) Lots of isolations and the ball not moving
The creativity in the play designs and the fluidity in the Sixers’ half-court offense have been completely missing this year. The ball isn’t moving fast enough (we’re amongst the teams where players hold the ball the most). Embiid and Harden are superb isolation players, and we rightfully put them in those situations a lot (2nd most isolations per game in the league), but even if building an offensive identity around such unique players is not an easy task, the lack of bond and simple off-ball activity offensively is a major disappointment.
3) No paint touches
Another symptom of this laborious and unassertive offense is that Philly stands dead last in paint touches! This incapacity to put pressure on the rim goes along with a clear lack of drives (9th worst in the league).
4) Below average rebounding team
5) The defense is taking shape
To finish on a more positive note, fueled by Embiid’s domination on that end, the Sixers have currently the fifth-best defensive efficiency.
Here’s some changes the Sixers should explore to better the team’s production:
- When Thybulle is on the floor, the pace circulates around 100, versus 94.7 when he’s off the floor. We already know that he’s the best steal machine in the league and I definitely believe that he should be given more minutes.
Until Harden’s return, I also wouldn’t be against the idea of reducing Tucker’s minutes. He has no real utility in the offense without his long-time partner creating open corner threes for him (just 12 points in the last five games). P.J. is also playing 28 minutes a night at 37 years old, giving him more rest now will pay off in the long run without being consequential for the team.
On top of everything and in response to the offensive struggles or the absence of effort, my biggest advice would be to maybe… make a coaching change? (please)
This article has a somewhat dramatic tone, but keep in mind that those issues are often self-inflicted and all correctable. The Sixers are still in a favorable position and once those bad habits are addressed, which is still easier said than done, we should be rolling. GO SIXERS.