Philadelphia 76ers: 3 biggest early-season weaknesses that must be fixed
The Philadelphia 76ers entered the 2019-20 NBA season as one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference. Having just re-signed Tobias Harris this summer while also locking up Ben Simmons to an extension, the Sixers were primed to improve on a year when they came within a game of the Conference Finals.
The Sixers are 15-6 after winning their fourth straight against the Utah Jazz on Monday, and they have one of the best team defenses in the NBA. However, the Sixers–despite having a very capable playmaker in Simmons and a beast of a center in Joel Embiid–have merely been passable offensively.
Here is a breakdown of that offense and the three biggest earl-season weaknesses that the Sixers must fix if they hope to realize their full potential:
This is possibly the most glaring weakness for the Sixers. They rank 28th in the NBA with 16.5 turnovers per game despite the fact that they rank just 18th in pace, according to Basketball Reference.
Simmons is averaging close to four giveaways per game, while Embiid is averaging almost three turnovers. Al Horford is the only starter not averaging more than two turnovers per game.
The Sixers simply cannot afford empty possessions. Their defense will not be able to bail them out every time they cough up the rock, and they cannot get into shootouts given their hesitance to shoot from the perimeter.
Perhaps it would be best for Philly to get back to basics. Of course, it is a luxury for Embiid to be able to step out and space the floor. But with Horford now acting as a point man, of sorts, the Sixers need him in the paint. Getting him post touches might eliminate some unnecessary turnovers in the half court.
2. More diverse lineups
One of the concerns heading into this summer was that the loss of Jimmy Butler would create a gap in the backcourt. The Sixers do not have ball handlers or assertive playmakers outside of Simmons, as both Josh Richardson and Tobias Harris are in the rotation to space the floor and add versatility on the wing.
But maybe head coach Brett Brown needs to resort to some different lineups every now and then. Furkan Korkmaz gets a lot of minutes, but he is one of the worst defenders on the roster. James Ennis has been a menace from deep and can get in and rebound, why not give him more minutes?
But maybe more importantly…
1. More Matisse Thybulle
Thybulle has been a defensive menace this season, averaging 1.5 steals and 0.7 blocks despite playing just over 15 minutes per game. Not to mention, he is making close to one three every night on about two attempts per game. He is a versatile forward that can handle the ball and fly around the floor.
Why is he not getting more run?
Harris has not been dependable as a shooter. Neither has Mike Scott, who is also a bad defender. Brown needs to place more faith in his rookie wing.