“Oh? You want to know what I think?”: a breakdown of the Sixers season

The honest truth from a mouthy Sixers fan


Photo courtesy Sixers wire (USAtoday.com)

Tanner Cole, Sports Editor

The “new and improved” Philadelphia 76ers are underway their 2020-2021 season and actually are not doing that bad. The team is currently sitting at 12-6 (note: I wrote this and my Editors didn’t move it until after the Sixers beat Boston twice and Detroit once), and I am a Sixers fan myself. The team sees some new faces this year, like Danny Green, Seth Curry and new head coach Doc Rivers. In return, the team was forced to say goodbye to some notable players like Josh Richardson and old man Al Horford who might need a wheelchair by the end of the season. 

Replacing Brett Brown, Doc Rivers, formerly the L.A. Clippers coach, seeks to change the team chemistry as coach. When he was named coach, he told NBA.com about the city of Philadelphia, saying, “It’s a city that values hard work and that is exactly what we are going to do and who we are going to be.”

Yet, I still have my doubts. I know Rivers has the experience and knows the game of basketball, but at the end of the day a coach in the NBA is not the same as a coach for the Lumberton Wildcats Middle School Basketball Team. When Coach Cummings yells at me to pass the ball and cut, guess what I’m going to do; pass and cut. If Joel Embiid has his back to the net on the baseline and Rivers–with his mask poorly worn–is yelling at him to pass it to Seth Curry sitting open on the three point line, Embiid is not going to pass it. Nooooo, Embiid is gonna try to hit a turn around fade away 15 footer on the baseline and he might make it, he might not. 

My point is, I just do not understand how Rivers is going to make a huge impact on the Sixers season. They currently sit at a three seed playoff spot as of right now, which is good, but it can’t hurt to mention that there are a little less than 60 remaining games in the season in which I think they will drop their seeding in Sixers usual fashion.

What I do like to see is rookie Sixer, Tyrese Maxey out of Kentucky University, playing well; he seems to never run out of energy. Maxey is always running and hustling, and as a fan I can appreciate that rather than an experienced player putting their head down and jogging back on a fast-break. It is refreshing knowing a player gives a you-know-what about his team and his work ethic. He averages 21.6 mins per game, which is fair, and averages 11.4 points per game with those minutes. Not too shabby.  The downside for Maxey though is he is benched behind someone who loves to get playing time: Ben Simmons.

I admire Simmons as much as the next guy, but I mean come on! Let’s take a little look at Simmons; shall we? Simmons comes in at 6’10’’ and weighs 240 pounds. He is fit, fast and has relatively good ball-handling skills, but you’d think at 6’10’’ and 240 pounds he’d be a power forward, but no, he is actually the one bringing the ball up. A man who is 6’10’’ is bringing the ball up the court. SIX FOOT AND 10 INCHES. He should be in the paint! Also, have I failed to mention that Simmons can’t shoot? A point guard should be able to shoot the ball from the three point line. End of discussion. But, Simmons is a few seasons into the league and still doesn’t know how to shoot the ball. Are you kidding me? I apologize, but if someone is paying me millions upon millions of dollars to do something, I might want to get better at that thing. Yes, he does lead the team in assists by a long shot, but any point guard can make eight assists per game and call it a day. The job of the point guard is to assist, so Simmons is doing mediocre for that. 

Rather than tell you how tall Simmons is and that he can’t shoot, let me tell you how it affects the game of basketball.

According to Hoopsgeek.com, the average point guard in the NBA is around 6’2’’ to 6’4″ and is a threat at the three point line. This means the defender for the average point guard must defend the point guard closely at the three point line because the point guard could possibly make a three pointer. This allows for more breathing room for a tall, big center in the paint to move around his defender and score points. 

Now, let’s stick Simmons in this situation. Simmons dribbles up the ball in hopes of passing to Embiid in the paint and in the hopes that he is able to beat his man in a one v. one, which Embiid is usually able to do. So, Simmons dribbles up the three point line and sees Embiid boxing out his man (the defender is behind him) calling for the ball. Simmons sees Embiid, but can’t pass it to Embiid because his defender is now backed off Simmons and is standing in front of Embiid. The defender is able to take steps off Simmons because he knows for near certain Simmons will not pull the trigger on the shot. And if he does, who cares? He likely won’t make it anyway. It takes those two scoring opportunities because he cannot shoot. He can’t pass it to his big man like an average point guard would nor can he shoot it like an average point guard. 

When you see Maxey and Shake Milton on the court at the same time, it is nice and spread and looks like the way good basketball is played. When you put Simmons with Maxey or Milton, it is a face-paced game, but it becomes too jammed and turns into an offense where maybe two or three players touch the ball. A good offense is continuously moving the ball until a scoring opportunity comes along to shoot and score. I don’t get the hype about Simmons. He is mediocre and I think he could be more of a threat, yet he has not improved.

I’m not saying we have to get rid of him; I’m saying learn how to shoot, Ben Simmons! But, I still am also not opposed to getting rid of him. Creates cap space for a more fit point guard. Use that money to get a more fit point guard. Embiid is happy. Philly will likely erupt because people love Simmons for some reason, but I think it means a better record, and a better franchise.

If Doc Rivers can manage and actually coach this team, then maybe the Sixers will be a 2-seed, but I think by no means the Sixers win the championship this season. 

Granted, it would be pretty funny if the Sixers won the championship after I just wrote that.