A recent piece by Mychal Lowman suggested that the Sixers are one of the most tweeted about teams in the NBA. Let’s take a look at what some folks are saying lately shall we? We know it won’t all be good. The Sixers have lost 6 out of their last ten and over their last 14 games they have won just five. They’re just not as good as last year’s (final version) of the team. Considering that Joel Embiid wasn’t healthy at all last May and Tobias Harris was slumping and had not yet found a groove, that’s a pretty big indictment of the off-season this fledgling and collaborative front office had. Whatever their plan was, it does not seem to be working so far.
The results are that some fans now want to break up Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Some people are pointing the finger at Tobias Harris and saying he’s overpaid. Some are blaming the coach. All of these things are pretty much the result of big-picture personnel decisions that made life more difficult on the team’s best players and coaching staff.
Here’s a quick round up of opinions:
Front office issues
Love the Sixers FO spending all of January trying to make the perfect trade for a roster they screwed up in the first place while perfectly capable fits are just sitting out there flapping in the wind— Marty Teller (@mwteller) January 14, 2020
This seems like a fair point. The Sixers left themselves largely devoid of guards and play-makers when they decided to trade Jimmy Butler and not offer him a fifth year. They miss his playmaking even more than Miami may be enjoying it, and despite Josh Richardson’s terrific play recently, Philadelphia has not been a good offensive team lately. They rank 27th in points per 100 possessions over the last two weeks, per Cleaningtheglass.com.
But is it possible that the off-season has strained the relationship between the team’s two best players too? Here is what The Athletic’s Rich Hofmann had to say last week on his Sixers Beat pod about the team’s chemistry and fit:
...‘calling it clunky is probably being nice. It’s a bad fit right now that doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of options for Brett Brown to manufacture offense out of this group. …I think [Embiid is] really frustrated about how this fits…. I think he’s looking at it like ‘you know we just had JJ and Jimmy who made my life easier… JJ because he would give me some easy looks, Jimmy because he would take some pressure off me at the end of games.’
…The ecosystem [Embiid is] playing in, it’s a lot harder.... Which is part of the reason I think he not so subtly took a dig at Ben Simmons the other day for not spacing the 3 point line.”
Hofmann gives us a really interesting look at things from Embiid’s perspective. And it all meshes with comments the big man has made throughout this rocky season. Since these comments, Embiid has undergone surgery, but the team has done nothing to improve their shooting from beyond the arc. If they had maybe it would lend some optimism that when he returns, the spacing and offense will flow more smoothly.
Maybe the Sixers didn't get any better this year because they have the same exact needs that they've had for three years now— [Redacted] (@NikoReg_) January 14, 2020
This tweet seemed to resonate with some folks. My guess is that Niko means the team still lacks perimeter offense, which might complement Ben Simmons and allow him some more off-ball responsibilities. Two years ago, spot up shooters like Redick, Robert Covington, and Marco Belinelli were limited and picked on in Boston. Last year, the team had an eery lack of guard depth and playmaking, and a weird surplus of centers. This year again, there are tons of bigs and not many creators or primary initiators, lending credence that the front office is confused by some fundamental truism of roster building and the need for ball-handlers.
Fire Brett Brown stuff
Another reaction to the clunky fit of this roster is that fans are losing patience with the head coach:
Not sure how people can stick up for Brett Brown anymore...obviously a change is needed. Same shit for years. pic.twitter.com/SlMVt5eSCg— Made For Philly (@MadeForPhilly) January 14, 2020
Even when things were going a bit more smoothly, the “fire Brett” group is omnipresent. However, it feels like they’re getting louder lately. Now, I don’t think it’s fair to Brown personally. I think he’s doing a pretty decent job with a group who doesn’t really complement each other all that well and simply hasn’t been able to hit 3s. The biggest problems are not his fault:
You can moan about the coach all you want but always more important:— Spike Eskin (@SpikeEskin) January 14, 2020
1. Not enough shooting.
2. Not nearly enough perimeter creation (especially in crunch time in close games).
3. Neither Simmons nor Embiid currently look like the best player on a championship team.
This month there is going to be lots to discuss about the trade market and then the buyout market. They may want a shooter, per Kevin O’Connor, (who recently compared NBA All-Defensive team candidate, Ben Simmons to Jahlil Okafor):
Adding shooting would be nice, although it seems they also need a player or two who can initiate a pick-n-roll offense.
One fan hit up our newest Associate Editor, Tom West, with an intriguing suggestion:
This idea of trading Embiid and Al Horford and surrounding Ben Simmons with “food shooters” is something the team should consider, if they haven’t already. Jelly Ourbre hurls a vicious pb+j from above the break.
Home vs. Road woes
Sixers on the road vs Sixers at home pic.twitter.com/EJzEgxAdBc— Hoops Reference (@HoopsReference) January 14, 2020
The Sixers’ home road splits leave some folks scratching their heads. Folks who remind us that this team was built for the playoffs and will play harder then, need to contend with folks who point out that they’ll have to win road games during the playoffs:
Sixers are 7-14 on the road. BUT they’re built for the postseason. As long as every playoff game is in Philly I like their chances— Jawn Gonzalez (@JohnGonzalez) January 14, 2020
Furkan Korkmaz is part of the first substitution instead of James Ennis III. Ennis has been one of the top two bench wings since opening night. Ennis noticeably did not play any meaningful second half minutes on Saturday night in Dallas.— adam aaronson (@SixersAdam) January 14, 2020
Finally, James Ennis was a surprise-scratch last night. I wonder if he’s in the dog house or on the trade block.
That’s all for now. I know I didn’t get to tons of great takes and tweets. Feel free to hit me up on twitter and send me or tag me in some fun or interesting ones for the next one.