The Philadelphia 76ers play host to the Guangzhou Loong Lions (of the Chinese Basketball Association) Tuesday evening in the Sixers’ preseason opener. As of Monday afternoon, all Sixers players are a go — yes, even their 2019 first round draft pick — making this evening’s matchup our first chance to take in the new-look Sixers in an adversarial setting.
The Lions aren’t exactly stiff competition, with their best player being Andrew Nicholson, who last played in the NBA for the Brooklyn Nets in 2017. So the game and its results won’t suffice as a measuring stick for where the Sixers are at in relation to their NBA counterparts. But if we’re lucky, the exhibition will offer insights into some questions we have for the start of the season.
Chief among those questions is in regards to Ben Simmons’ jump shot and his willingness to shoot. After an offseason hype tour including video leaks and teammate comments teasing a more confident shooter in Simmons, Sixers fans found themselves anticipating Simmons bringing a new toy to show-and-tell. Alas, Simmons passed up a corner three in the Sixers’ intrasquad scrimmage last week, much to the chagrin of Sixers fans everywhere. To be fair, Simmons made the smarter basketball play: he took a wide open baseline path for an easy dunk. But it’s in exactly that sort of nothing-to-lose setting that fans are craving to see some attempts from deep. Tonight offers another low pressure opportunity for Simmons to show whether he’s made improvements to his shot over the summer.
Another interesting angle to this evening’s matchup is how Brett Brown deploys his talent. The Sixers have overhauled their roster and Brown has a bit of experimenting to do as a result. We should see some of the same themes as last season (for example, Joel Embiid hitting the bench about halfway through the 1st quarter) and over the course of the season, the rotation is likely to go through significant changes from whatever we see tonight. But there are roles up for grabs, such as in the Sixers 2nd unit backcourt, and it will be interesting to see who is in the lead through training camp so far.
Tonight’s matchup might not be a thriller and it may ultimately be meaningless, but it is extremely exciting to have Sixers basketball back for a season in which they are entering with the looks of a title contender.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Guangzhou Loong Lions in preseason play
When: 7:00 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic