(Editor’s note: This piece was written prior to the Sixers’ win over the Bucks on Christmas Day. Remember when the Sixers beat the Bucks on Christmas Day? That was fun!)
Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way. With that, Festivus was born. - Frank Costanza
As I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered that I’ve become way more “Abe Simpson Yelling at Cloud”. It’s a little depressing that I’m this way, now, and I haven’t even hit age 40 yet, but here I am.
I’m not trying to buy a doll for my son, but I am trying to celebrate a Philadelphia 76ers championship for the first time in my life. The Sixers won in 1983, and to my knowledge, my parents didn’t stroll me out to that parade. This team has frustrated many of us and continues to frustrate us from time to time, so why not embrace a piece of Festivus? Not the feats of strength because that would be a little difficult over the internet, but something more tangible.
Let us begin the airing of Sixers grievances!
Ben Simmons continues to Not Shoot Jump Shots
Forget 3-pointers, Simmons continues to be hesitant to take jump shots. Contested jump shots. Open jump shots. The only jump shots he takes are in warm-ups, and I really need to know what changes in his head between the time he goes back into the locker room after his pre-game shootaround to the initial tip-off.
We all knew where we were on November 20, 2019 when Ben Simmons attempted and hit his first 3-pointer of the season. That could have and should have been a sign of what was to come. Instead, it turned out to be a giant tease. It was the “hot girl at the bar” moment of the Sixers’ season thus far.
If the last three games are any indication of what’s to come from opponents, Simmons HAS TO COMMIT to taking more 3-pointers and jump shots in general. It started last Wednesday against the Miami Heat when Miami employed a 2-3 zone on the Sixers midway through the second quarter. I am very much in the #ZoneIsForCowards camp, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t effective against the Sixers.
It was effective again for the Dallas Mavericks.
It was effective AGAIN for the Washington Wizards – even if Washington eventually lost by 17.
Second Spectrum provides the following statistic. Against Dallas and Miami, the Sixers saw zone defense on 34 percent of their possessions. They averaged 0.877 points per possession against zone defense versus 0.979 against man defense.
No one has ever said they want Simmons to hit 3s at a Stephen Curry-like clip, but we all have seen Giannis Antetokounmpo this season, right? Is he hitting 50-plus percent from 3? No, but he is averaging over five attempts per game and shooting a respectable 34 percent. Ben, can you attempt three per game at most and shoot 30 percent? That’s what, at least, helps beat the zone. I’m not asking for a lot, here. I’m just asking that you do enough to help with the spacing.
I’m no longer upset with you that you can’t shoot. I’m aggravated about your complete unwillingness to shoot. An NBA point guard that isn’t willing to shoot 3s is … what’s the word I’m looking for?
Antetokounmpo stepped into a parking lot jump shot against the Lakers. Ben, I’m tired of making excuses for you, my guy. You’re so good at everything else (passing, rebounding, transition), but this one thing is beginning to annoy the hell out of me – especially considering you’re set to become one of the highest-paid members of the team starting next season.
What’s up with the Offense?
Under Brett Brown, the Sixers were usually at the top of the NBA’s leaderboards in terms of pace and points per game. This year is a little weird through the first two months of the season.
The Sixers are currently 17th in PPG (109.3), 18th in pace (99.8), and 15th in ORtg (109.1). What are the likely causes for this? It’s a similar story from last year: new pieces, new coaching staff, new rotations.
Al Horford, Josh Richardson, and the newly paid Tobias Harris came in, but this all happened in the offseason, so the trio had a full offseason and training camp to learn the offense. That can’t be it. Does it take even longer for guys to gel into this system? Maybe. Monty Williams left the Sixers coaching staff to join the Phoenix Suns, and the Suns have looked better offensively than I can remember them being since the Goran Dragic-era Suns (6th in PPG, 8th in pace). Could that be it? Perhaps. It also helps that the Suns finally have a point guard so that Devin Booker can play more off-ball.
Is it Brett Brown?
I will say that some of his substitutions are a bit … confusing, at times. As much as I enjoy seeing Embiid and Horford together, I really feel like Embiid is better served with Mike Scott to start the game with Horford coming off the bench when Embiid needs a spell so Simmons can theoretically go to work if he would remember that he’s usually got six feet and 30 pounds on the guy trying to guard him. The spacing with Embiid, Horford, and Simmons on the floor together is awful. That’s the only way I can put it while keeping this post as “PG” as I can.
Things could get even more confusing now that Matisse Thybulle will be missing time with a knee injury. It likely means more time for Scott and James Ennis III. The Sixers did bring up Shake Milton from Delaware, but there are opinions (including mine) that suggest that Zhaire Smith may have been the better choice given Thybulle’s DEFENSE is what will likely be missed more.
Eagles Chants at Sixers Games
This could be very “Abe Simpson”, but I’ve been wanting to get this off my chest for a while now. There is a time and place for a well-timed Eagles chant. I get it. They were playing the Cowboys this past weekend, so emotions were higher than usual. I’m very proud of my Philadelphia Eagles. We all are. Everyone in the continental United States knew how insufferable the Eagles fan base would be when they won the Super Bowl.
This may be my weird rationale, but Eagles chants at a Sixers game kind of demoralizes a team. Think about it this way. If you have a sibling whose accomplishment is being lorded over you, that can make you feel bad about yourself and your own self worth. I don’t mean to play psychologist, and I could be totally off base. I only MINORED in psychology in college.
It’s already bad enough that the Sixers are … second fiddle to the Eagles in Philadelphia – possibly third or fourth fiddle to the Eagles, Phillies, and Flyers depending on what neighborhood you’re in. If there are Eagles players at the game, break into an Eagles chant at the game. Totally fine. Losing to the Miami Heat at home? Maybe refrain from that.
(I’m just saying. No matter how bad the Eagles are doing, I’ve never heard the Sixers song break out in the crowd. Ever.)
Sixers Players’ Family Members Whining about their Kids not Getting Playing Time
This year’s offender is Alfonso Clark “Benji” Burke ll. He joins a list that includes Chukwudi Okafor (Jahlil Okafor’s father) and Shawn Chapman-McDaniels. Our leader, Kevin F. Love, went into more detail about Benji’s transgression last week, and it got me thinking that I’m honestly really tired of this. I didn’t appreciate it when the Sixers weren’t good, and I sure as hell don’t appreciate it when they ARE good.
None of these parents are on the level of LaVar Ball, so I guess it’s important to add perspective to this thought.
Here’s my point. I’ve coached pee wee football in Northeast Philadelphia and West Philadelphia with kids ranging in age from 9 to 13. Sometimes, there are children who play more than others. There are some children whose parents object to their kid not getting the kind of playing time they feel they deserve. Every kid did get to play, however. Sometimes, these parents need a reality check.
Your kid just isn’t that good. I’m sorry to be harsh, but it’s the truth.
There’s a reason why Okafor didn’t pan out in Philadelphia more than Joel Embiid or even Nerlens Noel for that matter.
There’s a reason why K.J. McDaniels isn’t in the league anymore.
And there’s a reason why Furkan Korkmaz, James Ennis, and Matisse Thybulle get playing time over Trey Burke. They’re all better than your boy, Benji. I hate to be the one to break this to you.
Apparently, the Height of Our Editor is too Much for some of Our Writers
Both Andrew Patton and Dan Volpone seem to think that Kevin F. Love is too tall. As a tall, 6-foot-1 gentleman, I’m proud of my height. The only thing I’m worried about is that I’m tall, so it makes me a target for getting yammed on by Ja Morant.
Plays like this make me content with the fact I never pursued a professional basketball career.
I could go on forever with what bugs me with the Sixers so far this season, but let’s hear some more grievances. Leave them in the comments or Tweet at me (@AdioBRoyster). Feel free to use the hashtag #SixersFestivus, as well.