The Sexers have won seven of their last eight games and have been looking more and more like the team fans expected them to be. Besides the Raptors game which... sucked, the team has had some fantastically entertaining games with thrilling finishes. So let’s recap the week and take a look at the top four Sexers...
Sexer #1: Joel Embiid
Joel pulled one of the all-time great pranks in the NBA. Scoring zero points in the cursed Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Monday night. Good one Jo, you got us.
Since the goose egg, Joel has been the Sexers’ leading scorer in the last three games, putting up monster double-doubles in all three matches: 33/16 against the Kings, 27/17 against the Knicks, 32/11 against the Pacers.
The best center in the NBA also got to reunite with the NBA’s all-time leader in grit on Saturday night. Bets buds Joel Embiid and T.J. McConnell got to square off against one another for the first time in their NBA careers, and the matchup ended with a re-creation of the iconic chokehold picture following T.J.’s game winner against the Knicks in 2017.
On the topic of reunions, Joel also greeted former Sexer Richaun Holmes at the rim on Wednesday night with an unfortunately vicious dunk on his old backup:
The NBA season is about a quarter of the way through and Embiid has played in all but four of the Sexers’ 20 games. Out of the three back-to-backs the team has played, Embiid has played in five of those six games and is averaging 27.5 points, 11 rebounds, and is 16-of-30 on his field goal attempts on the back ends of the back-to-backs. While fatigue and conditioning remain a concern and a priority for the big man, it’s encouraging to see that, at least on paper, Embiid’s production isn’t necessarily dipping.
He currently ranks 3rd in PIE (21.2), only trailing Giannis Antetokounmpo (23.2) and Luka Doncic (22.4), also ranking 3rd in DRtg (93.3), but is trailing two Milwaukee Bucks, Sterling Brown and Donte DiVincenzo (he’s leading the league in DRtg as far as I’m concerned).
Sexers #2: Ben Simmons
*Tony Allen voice* FIRST TEAM. FIRST TEAM ALL DEFENSE. The Aussie has been a nightmare for opposing ball handlers as of late. Now leading the NBA with 42 total steals, Simmons is already making his case for an NBA All-Defensive Team.
It started in the Knicks game on Friday, when he essentially clinched the game with a steal that led to a breakout dunk off of a side out-of-bounds.
Then, at home against the Pacers, Simmons lit it up with four steals and a block, two of the steals coming on back-to-back possessions with under 15 seconds remaining to win it for the squad (the second steal again coming off a side out-of-bounds play).
Ben Simmons continues to make his early season case for First Team All-Defense.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) December 1, 2019
Here are a few highlights from him today, including his 2 steals that changed the game in the final 20 seconds pic.twitter.com/lbiy6gtteb
After improving to 9-0 at home on the season, Simmons then admitted he and the Sexers are scared to lose in front of the fans in Philadelphia. Gotta love a self-aware athlete :)
Gotta love on a night where Ben Simmons’ defense comes up HUGE, he credits the effort that @TJMcConnell brought every night defensively, as something that’s driven him to give that same effort back. pic.twitter.com/VnUVnGxIiE— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 1, 2019
For more on Ben and his defense, make sure to check out Jackson Frank’s upcoming piece on the rising defensive stalwart.
Some fun Ben Simmons defensive stats:— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) December 1, 2019
- Leads NBA in steals
- 2nd in steals per game
- 2nd in deflections
- 2nd in loose balls recovered
- 2nd in loose balls recovered per game
- 3rd in deflections per game
Sexers #3: James Ennis III
6MOY??? Prob not, but like, holy cow has James Ennis been huge off the bench for the Sexers. After a game he’d like to forget against Sacramento (0 points, minus-17), he followed up with a 20-point outburst on just five shots (!!!!). 3-of-4 from deep and 9-of-9 from the line sparked the Sexers to a comeback win over the Knicks in the Garden.
Going on a dive of stats, you can find some impressive rankings for Ennis.
He is posting a mind-boggling offensive rebound percentage of 7.9%, ranking third on the team behind Kyle O’Quinn (9.8%) and Joel Embiid (9.0%). Ennis is then two whole percentage points above Al Horford, who is in fourth place. His OReb% ranks 38th in the league, but he is 2nd in OReb% among non-centers. Only Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is above Ennis at 11.9%.
Ennis is also the team leader in 3P%, cracking 44 percent from distance on two attempts per game. While 44 percent is mad impressive, it doesn’t show the whole story. Ennis was 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) through his first 10 games. Then, in his next ten games, Ennis went 15-of-28 (53 percent, three attempts per game).
Elite 3-point shooting usually yields an equally impressive mark of True Shooting percentage. James Ennis is currently posting a TS% of 66.3%, which ranks 18th in the league among qualified players. Of the 17 players above Ennis, 13 are centers... only PJ Tucker, George Hill, and Brandon Clarke are the non-centers who are posting a better TS% than James Ennis III.
Ennis ALSO leads the team in ORtg at 112.6. He’s doing all this while ranking 10th in usage among regular rotation players. Part of me thinks I’m somehow messing up these stats on NBA.com, but also, James Ennis III might just be the best player in the NBA.
Sexer #4: Matisse Thybulle
The collective son of Philadelphia had the best game of his young career Wednesday against the Kings. Posting a 15-point, 3-rebound, 4-steal, 2-block line in just 21 minutes, he left his fingerprints alllll over the game. Going 5-of-5 from the field and 3-of-3 from deep is extremely promising and encouraging for a rookie labeled as an offensive liability, and Matisse excelled on offense while putting Buddy Hield in solitary confinement.
Matisse Thybulle had his best game of the season yesterday.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) November 28, 2019
15 PTS (5/5 FG, 3/3 3PT), 3 REB, 4 STL, 2 BLK in 21 minutes.
More composed play all around and really disruptive defense (he also did a great job on Buddy Hield): pic.twitter.com/xanvBEmfX3
I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must’ve been for Buddy, who had to try to create off the dribble against a kid so handsome and wholesome who also happens to be one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. I think on a few of those stocks (steals and blocks), Buddy was simply just caught staring at Matisse’s smile coming around screens and trailing him at every movement. Poor Buddy.
Other Sexers Things
It seems Tobias Harris is here more and more each week, now bumping his 3P% up above 30 percent following his notorious 0-for stretch. The second half of the month was much kinder to Tobias as he seems a litttttle more comfortable within the offense. In the latter half of November, Harris fired four 3-point attempts per game on a 44 percent clip (nine total games). While he and Embiid still look uncomfortable playing with one another, there is ample time to iron out the kinks and prep for the playoffs.
Norvel Pelle also broke onto the scene in his NBA debut. The 26-year-old had a rude welcoming to the league as he was nearly murdered by Julius Randle on a mammoth dunk.
Julius Randle with the hammer pic.twitter.com/ree0l56zfv— Coast2Coast Hoops (@BCNCoast2Coast) November 30, 2019
But there’s a special trait that some NBA players have.
I respect Norvelpelle for being willing to Die under the rim— LIFELONG PELICANS FAN MAN 69☭ (@Riffs_Man) November 30, 2019
It’s the fact that they are crazy people with absolutely zero fear who will continue to play Russian Roulette even after getting shot in the head.
Norvel Pelle going for a help side block https://t.co/ziDuOaWeCp— Jingle Bell Rice (@TheKevinRice) November 30, 2019
Norvel proved his insanity and his fit in Philadelphia culture as he responded by blocking Randle’s next block attempt...
Pelle ended the game with three points, two rebounds, and four blocks.
The Sexers’ next game is Monday night at home against Officer Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz. Should be a good one.