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Sixers Science: Things to Know vs. Hornets

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Kemba Walker is really, really good.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Starting Lineups & Game Info

Joel Embiid is a game-time decision after rolling his ankle in practice.


Past Performance vs. Hornets

The Sixers had a clean-sweep in four games against Charlotte last season, abusing the Hornets defense in the process.

The Sixers had a +14.2 Net Rating vs. Charlotte, racking up over 32 assists/game and shooting over 50% from the floor in four games.

The Sixers matchup very well with the Hornets and should continue to see success in future matchups, including tonight.

Why 2018-19 Kemba Walker Is Even More Amazing

This is Kemba Walker’s shot chart from the 2017-18 season.

He was lethal from three & drove to the basket a lot, but without much success. Walker can draw fouls at a decent rate (26th FTAs), but there has been one glaring weakness in his scoring — from three to ten feet. For his career, Walker has attempted ~10% of his shots from this range, converting 33.2% of the time or 0.66 points per possession, which is about the efficiency of a Ben Simmons three-pointer.

More Three Point Attempts With A Higher Percentage

Last season, Walker attempted 7.9 threes per 36 minutes played, which was the 14th most in the NBA. This season, that number has climbed to 11.5 attempts per 36, which would’ve been the 2nd-most last season. Not to mention, he’s canned 29/64 of his attempts from outside, for 45.3%. I think he probably ends the season a shade over 40%.

Playing Off-Ball More

According to Roderick Boone of the Athletic, “Part of the Hornets’ plan under coach James Borrego is to free up Walker more so he’s not dominating the ball.”

Walker is certainly one of the best players in NBA history at creating threes for himself out of isolation or the pick-and-roll, but his increased role off-ball — with Tony Parker or Nicolas Batum as the ball-handler — has augmented his ability to get open three-pointers. Walker often employs a simple give-and-go, utilizing his cat-like agility to get defenders off-balance as he relocates for the open shot.

He also does this from time-to-time:

Muggsy Bogues was recently asked about Kemba:

Does it invigorate you to see his style on the court?

“He’s really showcased what a small man is still all about and what he is capable of doing is special in today’s game. The franchise is on his shoulders. He’s able to improve each and every year. His 3-point percentage has improved, his assist-to-turnover ratio has improved. The leadership is continuing to improve and the sky is the limit for him. And I think the way he’s leading this city, on and off the court, is remarkable to watch.”

Per The Bball Index, Kemba Walker grades out as a terrific offensive player, especially from the perimeter and one-on-one situations:

Team Matchup Data

Despite having a clear roster advantage over the Pistons and even the Bucks, the Sixers took the L. Both of those games were on the road, which is notable as the Sixers were 22-19 on the road last season, despite going 30-11 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Lineup continuity has been an afterthought thus far, which I believe is by design; Brett Brown wants to test as many combinations of players as possible early on.

For example, here’s the from the most-frequented lineups between Hornets & Sixers:

Of note: The Hornets have lineups with Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist moonlighting as the “small-ball center.”

The starting lineup is legitimately bad if Saric and Embiid can’t start knocking down three-pointers. There is no precedent in today’s NBA for a lineup with three ineffectual three-point shooters.

Think about this: the Sixers took the best-performing 5-man unit from last season, removed the best shooter from it & replaced him with a player whose ability got stolen by the MonSTARS.

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF SIXERS BASKETBALL

  1. Thou Shalt Not Put Dario In The Game With Less Than 6 Minutes Left
  2. Thou Shalt Not Play TJ and Dario Together
  3. Thou Shalt Not Take Mid-Range Jumper With More Than 8 Seconds On Shot Clock
  4. Thou Shalt Not Remove Player From Game For “Foul Trouble” If Less Than 4 Fouls
  5. Thou Shalt Not Ignore the Corner Three
  6. Thou Shalt Not Forget to Tell JJ Redick To Shoot Threes Off The Dribble
  7. Thou Shalt Not Play Man Defense on End Of Game Out Of Bounds Plays
  8. Thou Shalt Not Accept Ben Simmons’ Not Shooting Corner 3s
  9. Thou Shalt Not Avoid Plays Where Ben Simmons is the Roll-Man
  10. Thou Shall Trade for Jimmy Butler

Prediction

Hornets: 106

Sixers: 117