Been one hell of a year huh?
At this point last year, we were winless (I actually think we won 3, I started writing this a long time ago sorry) and I was struggling to find any reason to believe the Sixers had any kind of future. We weren’t getting the #1 pick and maybe not the 2nd pick. Dario Saric was stuck overseas and probably was never going to play for us. Joel Embiid was beginning the 2nd year of his foot recovery and it came to a point where I truly believed he was never going to step foot on a basketball court ever again.
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And here we are…
We actually did get the #1 pick and got the 6’10 point forward from LSU, Ben Simmons. He unfortunately had an ankle injury, but he’s a few weeks away from making his debut.
Dario stayed true to his “word,” like any honorable man would, and came to Philly this season. He’s been earning our love so far by playing his heart out on every possession.
And Embiid…well, the dude finally played and he’s the superstar we’ve been looking for. You can read my post about him earlier.
We’re still the worst team in the league, BUT it’s ok! This upcoming draft class may be the final piece to this complex puzzle.
This season has brought some interesting topics. Here are my notes so far.
Is Joel Embiid good?
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He’s the greatest player ever.
Dude, I did not expect him to be this good. Yes, it’s true that he’s been working out during all that time off, but he hasn’t played competitive basketball in 2+ years! His first game, playing professional basketball, was the first time he dropped 20 in a basketball game! Sixers fans have been dreaming about this guy for a couple years now, and to finally see him out there and dominating is breathtaking. I already kinda wrote about him already, but I guess I’ll add on.
Joel has an insane desire to win. I know it sounds cliche, but Jojo does everything it takes to get a W. He’s jumping into the crowd! This guy knows he had a pretty significant foot injury for the last two years, yet he’s still diving into the stands like a madman!
LOOK AT HIM
To add on, I remember after another tough loss, during a time when we were experimenting the two big lineup, Jojo gave us a pretty interesting interview. Instead of the usual interview, something like “we’re just doing the best for the team and trying things out to see if it works, gotta do what coach says blah blah”….Joel said that it sucks. He straight up said that he couldn’t work with Okafor out there. It’s a small detail that most people probably didn’t notice, but it really stuck out to me. It’s great but worrisome at the same time. It’s awesome that Jojo is super competitive and wants to dominate, but during this rebuilding stage, how much losing will he be able to take? We all saw Jojo kick a chair when he couldn’t play in OT. And we all know what happened with Durant in OKC.
Joel has been improving every game. He’s a learner. You’re not seeing the same mistakes every game. He used to have foul troubles, now he’s getting the other team in foul trouble. He’s getting smarter and that should make us all smile. Maybe we’ll get that Olajuwon offseason workout, who knows.
For those worried about his health? So far I’ve seen Embiid roll his ankle before a game and still play. He rolled his ankle DURING a game and still played (had a dunk). I’ve seen Jojo jump into the crowd and get back up. He’s ran the entire court and fell hard trying to get a block…got back up. He’s tough as nails. Don’t worry about Jojo. And if anything goes wrong, remember that we have the best medical/training staff to take care of him. We’ve been taking care of Jojo so well for the past few years and it’s finally paying off.
We are so lucky to have Joel Embiid on our team.
Is the Jah experiment over?
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I came off of Jah’s first year full of high expectations. Expecting him to have worked on his jumpshot and his pick and roll defense. I haven’t seen much. I’ve been told it’s an effort issue. And yeah, there are times where Jah puts in effort and the results are incredible. But what we’re seeing this season are the issues presented last season. He’s still an offensive blackhole. Yeah he can score off the post and one-on-one. But he never passes the ball, and I know this very well. Embiid’s passing way better in the post than Jah and he just came back from injury.
Jah’s defense will forever be a problem unless he puts in work. The Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas literally said that he wanted to get Jah off pick and rolls every time because he knew it was easy buckets. Of course, we lost that game.
Jah’s main asset is his scoring. This year he isn’t as aggressive as before, but that may be because of him trying to fit into our offense, which requires a lot of handoffs and screens. So he’s not looking to attack as much as before. Without his offense, Jah needs to step up doing other things, like rebounding and defense. What kills me is that he’s shown he can do those things. He’s rebounded well in games and he’s played tough defense. I seen him grab offensive rebounds and I’ve seen him lock down and block things inside. We just can’t get it on a nightly basis and it can be infuriating.
And the two bigs thing ain’t working.
What do we do with Nerlens/Okafor?
Nerlens is done in Philly. We’re not going to pay him and somebody else will. With Embiid back and Nerlens’ showing no ability to serve at the 4, there’s no point in keeping our fav guy on the team. Unless Nerlens is cool with coming off the bench and getting paid less, then don’t expect Nerlens to be back next season. It’s not the reality. It’s not even a reality that can be created in a videogame. It makes no sense. At least get something for him. I know a lot of us Sixers fans value Nerlens a bit too high, so we might get mad at what we get back. I hope we get picks.
There’s still a slight bit of hope Okafor takes the next step. But for right now. He’s a bench player that has to be thrown out in key situations.
What do the Sixers need?
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Like last year, we had winnable games this season.
There’s a lot of reasons why we lose games but I can tell you how we win. It’s when we play defense and shoot well. Pretty simple. There’s also limiting turnovers and finishing games better, but we need to play defense and make our shots. We always struggle with teams that score well, but we’re always in games where the opponent struggles shooting. Sooo why not focus on defense? No matter what, defense will always win championships.
The Sixers need to prioritize defense and shooting, in that order.
I’ve been keeping an eye on other teams. Yeah they score well and all that, but they don’t play deeefennnnnnsse. That’s why they always loooooose. (Lakers/Timberwolves) Who cares about points if you don’t play defense on the other end?
When’s the last time the Sixers had guards that could play defense? MCW? KJ? How long do I have to watch Okafor on defense? It’s clear what we need. Now that we have Simmons/Embiid, we can start building around. We already have two great defenders on our squad right now with Covington and Embiid. At this point, Embiid is serving as a safety net for our guards (a really huge, athletic saftey net), covering up our guards’ defense. Imagine if we have guards that can play D.
Shooting wise, I’m getting sick of watching us brick shots. The scoring droughts have to stop. I love Sergio Rodriguez, he’s cool and the behind the back passes are awesome, but can we find guards that have a consistent mid range bucket?
I’ll get more into this part at the end of the post.
Is Brett Brown our coach of the future?
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We’ve all grown attached to Brett as he’s been with us since day 1. I even called him the best pickup we’ve had during the process. But as we’ve become a bit more competitive (roster wise), we’ve began to notice his flaws. It’s clear that Brett is not a good playcaller and struggles late. His play calls out of timeouts at the end of games have to be some of the worst in league history. It’s just baffling. We can’t inbound the damn ball or construct a decent last shot play. You can’t blame it on the roster either.
There’s still roster issues that have been holding him back. You can’t blame Brett for defensive issues as of right now, that’s roster issues. You can’t blame scoring droughts when we can’t make our shots. There have been questionable lineups out there, but we’re “experimenting.”
I say we keep our coach and wait for Ben Simmons and our picks next year. He’s still a great player coach and he finds ways to keep this team competitive. We’ve shown more fight this year than previous seasons, but that again could be the roster itself.
Nik Stauskas had a stretch where he looked like the guy that Vivek Ranadive fell in love with years ago. You gotta remember that the mental aspect of the game is very important. It seemed that Stauskas got his confidence back. He found a way to balance being aggressive to the rim and hitting outside shots. It was wonderful to watch.
Jerami Grant got traded 😦 . Our 2nd round gem, member of the Process. He came into this season with a new, improved jumpshot. Sadly, there was no more future here for Grant.
Ersan Ilyasova might be my co-MVP this year. I didn’t really know too much about Ersan before. From his time with us so far, I’ll say this…he’s a baller. He’s gotten probably the biggest green light ever in Philly and has made the most out of it, making big shot after big shot. Most importantly, he came into this team with that valuable “veteranship” that every young team needs. As you know, the whole veteran thing has been a revelation to me these past couple seasons. Ersan was a great pick up. Also, he’s really good at taking charges.
Robert Covington is also very low-key MVP. Can you believe the fans booed him this season? Yea, it’s true, RoCo seems to have lost his shot. But his defense has been phenomenal and probably one of the best in the league. Also, lately he’s been attacking the rim, something I’ve never seen from him before. He had a game where he scored like 20+ points while only hitting a few outside shots. If he can get back that 3, then he’ll be devastating. I know he still has it. But right now, that shot seems lost. I don’t know what it is. I feel like he’s just “throwing up” shots. His shot has a huge arch and it’ll either be too short or off direction wise. It may be mechanics?
I love Dario Saric…a LOT. Yeah, I loved him before he even stepped on the court after he stayed true to his word and came here after 2 years overseas. The thing I love most about Dario, besides his NBA skills, is his drive. He’s always putting 100000% out on the court. He’s always fighting for rebounds and he’s there to take the big shot as well. His offensive game is NBA ready. He has an outside shot, but his money’s at mid-range and in the post. However, he lost the starting nod to Ersan and he’s also a victim of the Okafor experiment. He needs more minutes. I think he can fit with Simmons and Embiid (assuming Simmons is 3 on defense), we’ll see. But Dario is awesome so far.
TJ McConnell is still living the NBA dream. His time with us should be coming to an end, sadly. But while he’s here, let’s just enjoy our non shooting, circles around the hoop PG from Arizona. He almost had a triple double against Detroit, I was kinda sad. We still won the game but I wanted that triple double soo bad. Hopefully we’ll see the TJ+Ben ship later this season.
We need to give TLC more minutes.
DRAFT PICK UPDATE
We look to be in the top 3 again. I doubt we get #1 again, we might get #4 lol.
I worried about that top-3 protected Lakers pick this year because I felt that they didn’t make a big improvement in the offseason. Surprisingly, they began the season 10-10 and I began to worry that the pick would be too low. Then, they finally sank to reality. They’ve gone 2-15 since and now I’m getting worried. I can see it being a #6 pick if they don’t jump in. But the Lakers might decide to tank with the season gone. With the early success, I don’t see the Lakers just giving up. I think the pride of the young guys will be too much and force them to be competitive. Plus the owner is probably feeling the pressure. They aren’t an awful team. We’ll see what they do, because the Lakers would really like a guy from this year’s draft. I know Mark Cuban isn’t an idiot and so is Pat Riley so hopefully they out tank the Lakers.
I think if you’re a Sixers fan (with free time) you’re watching/following college basketball this season. At least you’re aware of this upcoming draft class, which is STACKED.
This might be the last year I follow college/high school basketball because you know, Sixers comin back! However, I’ll admit that I’ve had way too much fun watching high school highlights/mixtapes on youtube. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve become infatuated with the Ball brothers at Chino Hills and may have kept an eye on young Julian Newman. Yeah, I’m one of those guys that are going nuts over Zion Williamson. Plus, this college basketball has been really fun to watch this season. UCLA has a fun team that runs a better offense than us. Kentucky, Duke, Kansas…bunch of teams are competitive this season.
Anyway, let’s talk about the players…
We’re trying to add on to our Ben Simmons/Embiid core, so ideally, we’re looking to build our back court. Maybe we can squeeze a wing. But I prioritize finding guards. I already mentioned what we need earlier. But to reassess, defense and shooting. Remember that Ben Simmons will be the main ball handler. With that said here’s my list so far:
1. MARKELLE FULTZ
Markelle is ridiculous. His offense is unfair. I’ve seen him hit tough pull up jumpers, split screens, and finish strong with a dunk driving down the lane with a defender on him. It seems effortless to him. He gets it done on the other end too.
He’s the best fit for us. He can dominate on his own, but imagine adding him with Simmons and Embiid? That’s really not fair.
The question is: If we land outside #1 (assuming he’s the #1 guy), do we trade up for him? Would you bundle up two picks for this guy??? Huge question. I would. But then again, look at the guys available.
2. MALIK MONK
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Malik is a guy that’ll probably be taken outside the top 5, but he’s a must for the Sixers. I saw him drop a ridiculous 47 pts on the Tar Heels in Vegas. He did it all. 3 pointers outside, creating his own shots, and using his athleticism to drive inside for buckets.
He’s the perfect off ball guy for us. He has a mean pull up shot that will translate perfectly in the NBA because he jumps so high. His 3 pt shooting has been proven and he’s been playing a majority of his minutes with De’Aaron Fox as the point guard. He has the athleticism and handle to create his own shots if needed. Plus, he’s clutch. Having this guy receive passes from Simmons is a dream. But we have to see if the Sixers are willing to pass up other talent to grab a guy who fits. It’s BPA all over again. Don’t get it wrong again….but I’ll get to this later.
Of course, he has downside. I talked about defense being a big factor. Monk’s size can be an issue on defense. I feel his offense outweighs his defensive struggles and with guys like Embiid and Cov, we might be able to mask it.
3. FRANK NTILINIKA
Speaking of defense, there’s Frank.
I don’t see much of Frank. He’s an overseas guy so we don’t have the benefit of having multiple guys upload his highlights on Youtube. But from what I’ve heard, Frank is special. A 6’5 defensive dream with offensive flashes. I think he’s the best defensive guard in this draft.
I’m not sold offensively but it exists. Once I see the offense is there, he’ll easily jump Monk for me.
4. DENNIS SMITH JR
Dennis Smith is also special. My only gripe about him is his size (6’2). But Dennis has a complete offensive game. He can score from anywhere and use that athleticism to yam it inside. Offensively, he’ll be fine in the NBA. I’m kinda worried if he can be an off ball guy and if he can offer us anything else (rebounding).
Of course there’s the defensive issues.
5. JOSH JACKSON
It’s kind of a toss up with him and Dennis right now for me.
I’ve heard of the Wiggins comparison, except Jackson does a bit more. He can pass, drive inside, and play defense. His athleticism isn’t Wiggins, but it’s there.
The only thing that I don’t like about Jackson is his shooting ability and where he’s gonna fit with us. I hear Jackson can guard 1-4, which is highly valuable. We haven’t seen Simmons with us yet, but when he does, we’ll get a better idea of what spots we need to fill up. I’m guessing we’ll move Simmons to 4. One thing I do know is that spacing is critical with Simmons and passing to somebody who can’t shoot isn’t ideal.
6. JONATHAN ISAAC
Is this guy the true baby KD? An actual KD?? 6’10 guy who can shoot the 3, pass, rebound. Not a guard, but having this guy with Simmons and Embiid could be something. He’s a guy to consider with the Lakers pick if we get it.
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7. LONZO BALL
My personal favorite in this class, but not particularly my favorite on the Sixers.
Lonzo is a 6’6 true PG. His IQ is really high. He’s really good at passing the ball to his teammates (very Simmons-like), which is part of the reason why UCLA’s been great this year. He’s sneaky quick. Not De’Aaron Fox-like, but he can get by. His handle is fine and can create his own shot, mostly because defenders have to respect his range, which is deadly.
A lot of people worry about his jumpshot, and it’s fair. He’s making it slower by raising it up from his left side. Unlike others’ jumpshot, I swear it’s fixable.
Problem with Ball is his role is already taken by Ben Simmons. The one thing that I’d argue for Ball is that his shooting/range is NBA level. He just needs to be more of an off-ball guy like Monk. We’re not going to see that right now at UCLA. I think his IQ is good enough to be great in NBA, and hell, maybe on our team.
8. JAYSON TATUM
Tatum’s offensive game is pure. My only issue is that I get too much Jah vibes from him, maybe because it’s Duke. Tatum at least plays defense. I think Tatum is too much of a ball dominant guy. We need movement if anything. He can shoot the 3, but he’s more of an inside guy. I think he fits worse than Ball.
He’s still one of the top guys in this draft, but I’d rather take other players over him…which is where the BPA thing comes into play. We’ll see how smart the Colangelos are.
9. DE’AARON FOX
Fox is John Wall. His shooting is worrisome. But his quickness and size is enough to make anybody consider him. He’s too quick.
Can’t wait for Ben Simmons’ debut. See you then.