Philadelphia 76ers Temperature Check
Lofty expectations surrounded the Philadelphia 76ers entering the 2019-2020 NBA season. Through seven games this year, they sit tied for third place in the eastern conference at a comfortable 5-2 record. Below is a temperature check concerning the state of the team, who’s been hot, and who could stand to improve.
Burning Hot: Joel Embiid, Player and Personality
Superstar center Joel Embiid, aka The Process, has been the hottest player on the Sixers this year in more ways than one. His play on the court thus far has been spectacular with averages of 24.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. The offense clearly looks to Embiid to both dominate in the low post and create open shots for teammates when opposing teams choose to double team him.
Of course, the personality of Joel Embiid is not to be ignored either. Recently, he got under the skin of Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns which resulted in an altercation and two-game suspension for each of the big men. Ever the entertainer, Embiid seemed to thrive in the moments after the fight and held the crowd in the palm of his hands as he shadowboxed amid the cheers of his beloved fans. It is encouraging that he has vowed to never be suspended again. This team is clearly his to run with and, barring his two-game hiatus, he hasn’t shown signs that he can’t carry the hopes of this squad on his back.
Warming Up: 76er’s New Additions
Both veteran Al Horford and emerging talent Josh Richardson joined the 76ers starting squad this offseason. Each of these players has contributed significant minutes as they develop chemistry with their new teammates. Al Horford in particular was tasked with generating much of the offensive production lost in the two games that Embiid missed due to suspension. He shouldered the load admirably and even scored 32 points in a losing effort against the Phoenix Suns. This performance is notable because amazingly the big man never eclipsed the 30 point mark during his tenure with the Boston Celtics.
Josh Richardson has struggled to find his shot in the early portion of this season. Right now he is only shooting 41.4% from the field and a dismal 24.2% from three point range. However, his play is trending up as he filled the boxscore with 24 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals in a recent contest against the Utah Jazz. While Richardson hasn’t been hot on the offensive end of the floor, he does not take possessions off on defense and has continued to be a defensive force on the perimeter this season.
Lukewarm: Ben Simmons Offensive Impact
A major question mark for Ben Simmons heading into this season was if he could make a leap on the offensive end of the court. While it is likely that he never matures into a deadly sharpshooter, the development of a shot that at least keeps defenders honest would truly elevate his game to the next level. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened so far this season. The Sixers guard is only averaging 13.1 points per game and is still unwilling to shoot from beyond the arc.
That’s not to say that his play this season has all been underwhelming. His defense has been fantastic and Simmons currently leads the NBA with 3 steals per game. However, the potential of Simmons as a players and the 76ers as a team is ultimately capped if he remains unable to generate more offense.