With the draft completed, Sam Hinkie came out of hiding to talk about what transpired yesterday at a press conference. There was some great insight during that presser but there was one quote in particular that drew my interest. When talking about Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid playing together he had this to say:
"I will say this, if in fact they do play together, which is what we anticipate, we're going to be a menace at the rim, an absolute menace. If you're going to bring violence to the other team, that's the place to do it."
At first listen, I just assumed that Sam was talking about the defensive side of the ball. He's known for valuing rim protection and Noel and Joel would bring plenty of that. But I think he meant that he wants to be a menace at the rim on offense too. When you look closely at what the Sixers did last year and what they did in the draft this week it comes more into focus.
If you want to know how much the Sixers value attacking the rim, look no further than the fact that no team took more shots inside 5 feet than the Sixers and only the Pistons were particularly close to the number of attempts the Sixers had in that area. A whopping 51.3% of the Sixers shot attempts came from in close which is a fairly large jump from the 38% during Doug Collins' last season.
Hinkie's player acquisitions last year fall in line with the increase in attacking the rim. Michael Carter-Williams took nearly 54% of his shots near the rim, Tony Wroten 72%, Elliot Williams 51%, heck even the shooters on the team (Hollis Thompson and James Anderson) took nearly 40% of their shots there.
And then when you look at who the Sixers drafted this year in the 1st the attack the rim philosophy still applies. Embiid is said to have great potential as a post player who already has some nifty post moves that help him score inside. I think I heard somewhere the other day that Embiid lead the nation (in college) in FG% in post up situations at 55%. Saric has a spectacular handle and can take his man off the dribble.
So we have all these players that can attack the rim, but none of them can really shoot or are great shooters. Does Sam Hinkie hate shooting? No, obviously. Sam doesn't hate shooting. The common reaction to drafting non shooting players so far has been that shooting is the easiest skill to teach. That is true in some ways, but I think the real underlying belief to the picks Hinkie has made so far is that the most important part of the offensive attack is having guys that can get into the paint and make plays and you can go get the shooters later. Shooters are important for spacing but a lot of the time shooters aren't good at creating their own shots.
The core in place right now has Michael Carter-Williams, Dario Saric, Joel Embiid, and Nerlens Noel and all of them bring skills on offense that are about attacking the rim. MCW can penetrate into the paint and try to finish, dump it off to a big or kick it out to a shooter. Saric can either take his man off the dribble or do some nifty interior passing to free up another big guy at the rim. Joel Embiid can post up and seems like he has the potential to become a good passer out of double teams. Noel can just flat out be more athletic than almost anyone at the rim.
The Sixers want to bring violence to the other team at the rim so that they can draw fouls and get the defense moving and helping so that they can create easy opportunities whether they are in the paint or on the perimeter for catch and shoot.