Welcome to my weekly column, “7 Thoughts About 6 Sixers.” Every Tuesday (or, you know, a day close to Tuesday), I’ll be writing seven things about six members of the Philadelphia 76ers. (Because 7 and 6...76...get it?). Math should tell you that those numbers aren’t equal, which also means that each week I’ll be writing about one person twice.
The preseason is here and the regular season is just around the corner, so let’s get to talking about your Sixers.
1. Ben Simmons made a 3-pointer in an NBA game!
Okay, so it won’t technically show up in his career stats because it wasn’t actually an NBA game that counts, but in our hearts we all now know that there’s an asterisk by that zero on Simmons’ Basketball Reference page where it says he hasn’t made a 3-pointer.
There are a lot of conflicting thoughts from people on the question of “does Ben Simmons need a jumper?” I think there’s actually a pretty simple response to that, though: no, he doesn’t technically need a jumper to be successful, but it also wouldn’t hurt if he had one.
We’ve all seen the screenshots of defenses dropping completely off of Ben Simmons when he brings the ball to the top of the arc. If defenses can do this and drop Ben’s defender into the paint, life gets harder for Joel Embiid in the paint. But if Ben is able to make defenses respect his 3-pointer even a little, things get much easier for everyone.
A preseason make isn’t going to make those defenses respect him, but it’s a start, and at this point, that’s really all we can ask for.
2. I think Matisse Thybulle is going to be a lot of fun to watch
While Thybulle’s offensive game hasn’t come in much, he has 12 combined blocks and steals through three preseason games.
Defense was why Thybulle was a hyped prospect pre-draft. It’s why the Sixers picked him. And it’s why I’m so excited to see how he fits into this rotation once the regular season arrives.
3. Is it finally Korkmaz SZN?
I mean, no, right?
But Korkmaz did have seven points on 3-for-4 shooting against the Magic, including a made 3. The Sixers could use some shooting off the bench, which is a thing Korkmaz was supposed to bring, but then hasn’t brought over the course of his NBA career. Maybe the team bringing him back means they think he’s finally primed to be that guy.
4. Trey Burke and the backup point guard conundrum
Who plays the backup point guard spot is a big question. Could it be Trey Burke?
Burke put up some good numbers with the Knicks last year and some slightly worse, but still fine, numbers with the Mavericks, but I’m not sold on Burke being more than just an occasional scoring spark plug.
5. Raul Neto and the backup point guard conundrum
A lot of people think Neto should end up being the main backup over Burke. In lieu of writing a whole paragraph about this, here’s something that our Adam Aaronson wrote after the preseason opener:
6. Tobias Harris moving back to the three will be fine, yeah?
I’m personally a fan of playing small, so Tobias Harris shifting back to the three is definitely not something I’d say I’m excited about.
If we believe Basketball Reference’s position estimates, the last time that Harris played more at the three than at the four would have been the 2014-15 season in Orlando. At this point, with how the NBA works, Harris is a four.
But the Sixers are embracing bigness this year. Harris will slide up to the four plenty, but the starting lineup is going to be interesting.
Our own Jackson Frank tweeted this awhile back:
Tobias Harris net rating by position:— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) August 9, 2019
- SF: -7.1
- PF: +3.6
- SF: -1.7
- PF: +5.4
So, yes. With the season coming up, I am worried about this.
7. Speaking of Ben Simmons, let’s discuss his rebounding
A three-game preseason sample is really not something you should be drawing a lot of conclusions from, but one thing I’ve been noticing is Simmons’ rebounding numbers. Through three games, he’s averaging 7.3 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per game. Last regular season, he averaged 8.8 rebounds in 34.2 minutes. So on a per-minute basis, Simmons is grabbing more boards.
He also did that last preseason, so maybe this means nothing? And with Joel Embiid and Al Horford in the frontcourt, there aren’t a ton of rebounds to go around.
But we saw with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City that getting your point guard involved on the boards can help you push ahead on the break. With so much said about how Simmons is a transition scorer, that could be something you’re looking to do, right?
I don’t know. The very presence of an Embiid/Horford/Harris frontcourt suggests this offense could play slow and methodically, in which case getting the ball in Simmons’ hands immediately probably isn’t as important.