Last night's embarrassing defensive effort against Nicky "Rolls Out of Bed and Gets a Double-Double" Vucevic and the Magic direly needs to be rectified tonight, but the Sixers unfortunately face yet another offensively-gifted center in the Piston's Andre Drummond. Despite the highlight-worthy Vines of Nerlens Noel yamming in Drummond's grill back on January 27th, it was really Drummond who got the best of Noel, posting 25 points and 18 rebounds on someone with the talent to be one of the game's elite defenders in Detroit's 110-97 victory.
That's doubling concerning for the Sixers now, as they were without Jahlil Okafor back on that January matchup. For all his spin moves on the low block and his scoring prowess, Okafor is just not a competent rim protector at this point in his short into his career. Given the differences in how the Sixers' defense looks between when just Noel is on the floor (104.9 defensive rating, per nbawowy), just Okafor is on the floor (112.8 defensive rating) and when both are sharing the court (111.3), Drummond could be in for a huge evening in the Motor City if he's able to replicate how well he played against just Noel and then duplicate it against lesser defensive lineup constructions.
The Sixers are lacking an identity other than the constant criticism and jokes they received at the hands of the media both nationally and locally. Their offensive rating is dead last in the league at 97.5, per basketball-reference, and their defensive rating is 108.0, the 22nd best mark in the NBA. At least last season provided some sort of reason for optimism in terms of the roster's construction, as they ranked 13th in the league defensive (104.8 rating) behind Noel's second-half defensive surge and their long, rangy athletes on the wing.
That feeling is gone for now. Noel could one-up Drummond tonight with the type of block party the league has become accustomed to, as well as with the weak-side swatting help of Jerami Grant off the bench, but the idea of Okafor chasing around Markieff Morris at the four and the rest of the regressing roster going against a Detroit team that is finally starting to click under Stan Van Gundy seems dreary. Maybe they should just hack Drummond to death.
Be sure to tweet me on the Liberty Ballers account during the game when I'm wrong and Okafor has 38 points and five blocks.