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Sixers Tinder: Ben Simmons and company should help Jerryd Bayless excel

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The Sixers have the right players in place to help Bayless recreate his fantastic season from two years ago.

NBA: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you’ve heard this story before.

The Sixers acquire a player. That player is expected to be an important factor in the team’s success. Said player gets injured, and is unable to play at all (or very minimally).

While Jerryd Bayless wasn’t expected to command a role as important as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the nine-year NBA veteran’s combination of experience and three-point shooting was supposed to give the Sixers a big boost in the backcourt.

Bayless was one of the first major moves of the Bryan Colangelo era, inking a three-year, $27 million contract in July. He suffered a torn ligament in his left wrist in training camp, and opted to forego surgery in an attempt to play during the 2016-17 season.

He made his Sixers debut on Nov. 21, but it was clear very early on that the injury was going to severely limit his impact. Every time Bayless hit the floor, his damaged wrist being used to catch his fall, the pain was obvious. The 28-year-old competed in just two more games before deciding to chalk up the rest of his season. On Dec. 15, the Sixers announced he underwent surgery to repair the torn ligament, and his wrist would be immobilized for four months.

In their end of season press conferences, Colangelo mentioned that Bayless would be ready for full contact drills in about a month, and Brett Brown envisioned him having an important role on the team next year.

This quote from Brown on Bayless comes courtesy of Derek Bodner, who discussed the impact the combo guard might have on Ben Simmons.

“It is of that species, that is for sure,” head coach Brett Brown said before the Pacers game, commenting on whether Jerryd Bayless is the type of point guard to play next to Simmons. “It is somebody that can guard the other point guard. It’s somebody that can make a three. It’s somebody that can bring the ball up the floor from time to time, or run a second side pick and roll.

“It’s a combo guard. It’s a 2-1, it’s a 1-2, call it what you want. It’s a 3-and-D guy,” Brown finished.

The first part of the 3-and-D moniker is certainly fair, but it’s hard to say a guy with a career 108 DRtg and a 1.6% career steal rate is really someone you can count on on the defensive end.

However, Bayless is expected to be sharing the court with Robert Covington, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and all three are capable of defending multiple positions and shutting down pick-and-rolls at the point of initiation. There are certainly going to be ways to hide Bayless on defense.

His usefulness will truly come as being the Robin to Ben Simmons’ Batman. Bayless is a point guard by trade, but has seen himself transition into more of an off-ball role as his career has emerged into its latter stages, and for good reason. He’s never averaged more than 3.7 assists per game in a full season, and is a very limited threat attacking defenses off the dribble. He’ll run your offense if need be, but its not necessarily ideal. Realizing that, Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd moved Bayless into more of a catch-and-shoot role during the 2015-16 season, allowing freak of nature Giannis Antetokounmpo to handle the ball more frequently.

The partnership certainly benefitted both parties. In the 1014 minutes they played together, 57.1 percent of Bayless’s shot attempts were threes, 42.5 percent of which he made (stats via NBAWowy). On the season as a whole, he shot a career high 43.7 percent from three on 7.8 attempts per game.

Of those 7.8 three-point attempts, 3.4 of them came via catch-and-shoot situations, which Bayless converted on 47.7 percent of the time.

Having a 6-foot-11 point forward who can capably handle the ball and attract the attention of all five defenders on drives to the rim can open up an entire offense. For Bayless, working alongside Antetokounmpo seemed to morph him a premier outside shooting threat.

Lucky for him, the Sixers have an Antetokounmpo-esque talent in Ben Simmons, who is arguably a better ball handler and undoubtedly a better passer. Considering the amount of time Bayless spent with a very similar player stylistically, the Simmons-Bayless pairing should have little issue getting off the ground.

You can very easily replace Antetokounmpo with Simmons in all of the below play types.

In transition:

In isolation/post ups:

Or they can get a little fancier by having Bayless initiate the offense in the half court before utilizing a fade screen to create some space.

He won’t benefit from Simmons’ presence alone.

Sprinkle in off-ball cuts to the rim from Robert Covington and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and the passing prowess of Joel Embiid and Dario Saric and Bayless should have players who complement his skill set on the floor with him at all times.

Philadelphia will certainly look to address the shooting guard position in the draft , as Bayless isn’t your two guard of the future. Provided that the Sixers don’t have the opportunity to select Markelle Fultz, then Bayless should almost certainly be starting next season. But if they were to take Josh Jackson, Lonzo Ball or Malik Monk, then Bayless is the perfect placeholder to have until one of them is ready to step into a larger role.

I’m swiping right on Bayless. I don’t expect him to match his production from two years ago, but the Sixers clearly have pieces in place that will allow him to contribute in a similar manner. Expect him to make up for lost time this upcoming season.

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