The Sixers don’t know how to play basketball without Joel Embiid. Granted, he’s a great player, but they look dysfunctional and disorganized without him. They’ve only won 7 out of 23 games. This situation gave players an opportunity to get some extra playing time to prove themselves and get aggressive on offense, but some have squandered this opportunity.

Biggest Woe

Tobias Harris remains the biggest problem on the Sixers. Imagine the difference his $184 million could have made on legitimately any other player or players in the league. He wastes space on the floor and continually kills the team with his inconsistency and lack of aggression on offense. This time without Embiid should have opened up more opportunities for him to score and get into a rhythm, but he accomplished quite the opposite.

Many words can describe Harris’ performance against the Bucks and the Knicks, but disgraceful seems to do the job best. In both games he scored less than 10 points and had at least a -11 +/-. For a guy that should be the second option with Embiid out, he sure does not live up to it. It really is a shame.

Chemistry Issues

Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone, but the Sixers have not looked like a unit with the big man continuing his rehab. Not only did the Sixers lose the player with the highest usage percentage in the NBA (unofficially because he does not meet the minutes restriction), they also slightly revamped their roster.

Buddy Hield has had a very good start with the Sixers, but that hasn’t translated into a winning formula so far. He’s had relatively high usage at 20.9%. Even with a good player, that will no doubt provide chemistry issues with any team. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, but it isn’t a glaring positive at the moment. I have no worry that he will really help this team moving forward, but in the meantime, they need to figure things out.

Another new trade acquisition, Cam Payne, also has a high usage percentage with the team at 21.8%. This brings the same chemistry issues. He has provided a spark off the bench here and there, but nothing earth-shattering. He doesn’t turn the ball over much, but any point guard with a new team needs time to gel.

Moving Forward

Ideally, the Sixers can build chemistry and keep themselves out of the play-in game while Embiid nurses himself to full health. The team can’t afford to rush Embiid back before he’s fully healthy, so they need to hold down the fort in the meantime.

Hopefully, when Embiid returns, he can plug right in and boost the team back into championship contention with the new pieces around him. It would devastate the team and their playoff hopes if he comes back and the chemistry resets. Embiid is such a talent so playing with him shouldn’t be too hard, but not many teams can win it all with plug and play players that don’t have chemistry.

Hield’s fit with Embiid

During this time of “hanging in there,” Nick Nurse should evaluate the play styles of his new players which hopefully he can use to game plan for Embiid’s return. Obviously he’s familiar with Embiid’s game and Lowry’s as well, but Hield could prove a fantastic fit with Embiid.

With Hield’s incredible catch-and-shoot ability, a formulated two-man game between him and Embiid could prove to be lethal against any team they play against. Mix that in with Maxey and they could become the new three headed monster that we all hoped we had with Simmons, Fultz, and Embiid.

Obviously, this fully revolves around Embiid’s availability and his fitness level. We will have to eagerly wait for the next Embiid update to decide if we can start to hope for the playoffs or expect another disappointing ending.

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