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Grading October’s Sixers Overreactions

October is over. You have reactions about the Sixers. Are they accurate ones?

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The first calendar month of the NBA season is over as October rolls over to November and everyone with an interest in the Philadelphia 76ers takes a long sigh and hopes this month brings better things. A 4-4 record through eight games isn’t terrible — if you want to see a terribly disappointing start, take a gander at the Rockets — but it still hasn’t been easy to swallow for a team that most people picked to be the third best in the East. It also doesn’t help that Philadelphia has lost fairly convincingly to the two teams, Boston and Toronto, who were predicted to finish in the East’s top two spots.

So, after eight games, people have takes. Some of these takes are good and valid and some of these takes are less good and less valid. (I mean, takes are like opinions so I guess technically all takes are in some way valid, but if you’re going to make some wild ones, give some evidence for them, okay?)

Below, I’ve compiled some of the hot takes and overreactions that people have posted around the Twitter world, many in response to me asking for your overreactions. I’ll be grading them on a scale of one to five, with that scale breaking down like this:

  1. Yeah, this isn’t an overreaction at all and is, in fact, a very valid reaction.
  2. Okay, I can see where this is coming from.
  3. I mean...let’s wait a little longer before we say this.
  4. Uhh, you might want to slow down with this reaction.

Ready? Let’s talk about some overreactions.

Dario Saric has not been very good and we need the good version of him back

Grade: 1

This one is not an overreaction at all. Even ignoring the counting stats, a quick comparison of this year’s advanced metrics to last year’s advanced metrics shows that Saric isn’t currently performing at the same level as last season, which is hurting this team. Here’s a quick list of things that are not as good as they were last season: true shooting percentage, box plus/minus, value over replacement player, free throw rate.

Saric is using the three-pointer as a larger percentage of his shot attempts, but he’s hitting just 23.4% of them. That, obviously, has to change for this team to be successful. He either has to start connecting on those shots — and he shots almost 40 percent last year, so unless he’s been hit by the “Sixers players who forget how to shoot” curse that number should go up — or he has to mix in more high efficiency shots.

But look, Saric had this happen last year. He shot 33.3% from deep in October, with four of the first five games featuring a three-point percentage of either 25% or 0%. He turned it around, shooting better across the board in November. So while it’s not an overreaction at all to say “yeah, not a great start to the year for Dario,” we have some evidence that he should get better. So, for example, an overreaction like the following one...

Dario and Covington are not good enough to be starters

Grade: 5

This is a rough take and a major overreaction to a short sample. I covered in the last paragraph above how Saric should get back to his old self and I’m just going to assume that the person who sent me this thinks that the 2017-2018 version of Dario Saric was a good player because...well, I’m not going to take the time right now to prove that very obvious fact. I’d actually be willing to listen to a “it would help the team if Dario came off the bench” take, but when he’s playing at his normal level he’s definitely good enough to start on this team.

But let’s talk about Covington real quick, because arguments against Covington are even more tenuous. Robert Covington doesn’t score a huge amount of points, and I understand that could look not great if you’re looking at this team and wondering how to create more offensively. But he’s shooting a career-high 42.9% from deep and averages two steals and 1.8 blocks per game. Covington is one of the NBA’s best defensive wings and if you’re looking for a guy in that three-and-D mold, I’m not sure you have find a better one than Covington. (Don’t say Klay Thompson or Khris Middleton, who are more than just three-and-D guys.)

To say Covington isn’t good enough to start on this team is a major overreaction.

Landry Shamet is better than Robert Covington

Grade: 5

I really like Landry Shamet, but he’s a rookie guard who is nowhere near the disruptive force that RoCo is. You can win a title with Robert Covington in your starting lineup serving as your glue guy. (Sure, you need Covington to be your fourth-best or fifth-best starter, not your third...) Shamet is fun. He has a ton of potential. He is not better than Robert Covington. (Man, some of y’all really hate Covington.)

JJ Redick should be back in the starting lineup

Grade: 2

This is grading out as a two for now, but I can see myself getting fully talked into it soon. The only real reason...actually, wait a minute. The next reaction is also about Redick and I think talking about them in tandem is useful.

JJ Redick: Sixth Man of the Year

Grade: 1

Here’s my thought process on the whole Redick/Fultz thing. I think a few things are obvious so far:

  1. JJ Redick is a better and more impactful player than Markelle Fultz.
  2. Markelle Fultz/ Ben Simmons backcourts give up some important things offensively.
  3. Redick is very important to the bench and provides that unit with a shooting spark.

Let’s talk about that second point. So far, the two man pairing of Simmons and Redick has a 9.9 net rating in 133 minutes, while the Simmons and Fultz pairing has -16.7 net rating in 80 minutes. That disparity is so large that I’m almost unwilling to shout “SAMPLE SIZE” at it, because some of those issues are pretty self-evident. The 85.5 offensive rating when the two share the court reflects how much having them both there at once hurts the spacing. Even a Redick/Fultz combination has a net rating of just minus-one, as bringing Redick’s gravity onto the court changes things.

But I’m still not convinced that JJ Redick should be starting again. I’m almost convinced, but I think the final straw will be to see how Wilson Chandler looks when he returns. Can he defend and shoot well enough to carry the bench? Great. But if not, having Redick as the sixth man gives a boost to a bench that needs it just as much as the starting lineup does, and if Redick stays on the bench all year he should be a favorite to win the league’s sixth man award.

Markelle Fultz is the next Michael Carter-Williams

Grade: 4

Speaking of Markelle Fultz...

Look, there’s been some really good moments. As a whole, the year and change of Markelle Fultz has been a major disappointment because of the shooting woes and all the weirdness attached to that, but there have been moments, and I’ve found myself wishing more than once this year that Fultz was getting some run late in certain games.

But we also have to acknowledge that yeah...his unwillingness to shoot and his lack of a big defensive impact so far have been issues. You can live with Fultz’s offensive issues if he brings you more on the other end, but so far he’s got the team’s fourth-worst defensive rating.

Am I ready to saddle him with the Michael Carter-Williams 2.0 tag? No. Do I see a world in which that happens? Sure! But Carter-Williams was the 11th pick in a bad draft, while Fultz was the first pick in a fairly strong draft class. He showed a lot more to scouts and coaches than MCW had, and even though I know I’m getting involved in some sunken cost fallacy issues here, I believe that Fultz still has the potential to be a good NBA player. Maybe I’m overreacting to the overreacting at this point, but there’s still a chance for him. He’s unlikely to exceed the initial expectations, but he can still exceed our current expectations on him.

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