Outliers of this Odd Season
- Of the 13 teams to finish with a winning record prior to the suspension of the NBA regular season, the Sixers were one of four to have only four players finish with an overall positive Player Impact Plus-Minus. The three other teams were the Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets. Utah and Indiana were very evenly distributed and just barely fell below the cut, while only Denver had a larger drop from fourth (Jamal Murray plus-1.75) to fifth (Vlatko Cancar minus-0.21).
The Sixers’ top four were Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Al Horford and Tobias Harris, who registered a plus-1.45, much greater than fifth place Marial Shayok’s minus-0.07. Strangely enough, Josh Richardson graded out at minus-0.47, largely due to his offensive struggles. The big takeaway here should not be to pile on the bench for their shortcomings, but for the Sixers to brainstorm how they can better utilize their fairly one-dimensional backups.
- In the past two seasons, as the Sixers emerged as a true contender, they finished above league average in free throw rate. Their 20.1 free throws per 100 field goal attempts in 2017-18 was good for an 11th place finish, and an astounding 24.4 FT per 100 FGA in 2018-19 was only bested by the Los Angeles Clippers.
So what happened in 2019-20? Well, not only did the Sixers not regress back to their 2017-18 numbers, they completely fell below water, finishing the pre-suspension season with a 19.2 percent FT rate, placing them all the way down at 19th on the list of NBA teams in this statistic.
Not to beat a dead horse, but it might be the faults of Al Horford and Josh Richardson. Through a series of moves that get more head-scratching by the day, Elton Brand essentially swapped Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick for Horford and Richardson. While not the free throw attempt monger for the Sixers he has been for Miami, Butler still generated 7.9 free throw attempts per 100 possessions for Philly. Tack on sharpshooter Redick’s 5.1 FTA per 100 and suddenly you’re getting an even 13 per 100, just a shade under the 14.2 Embiid was creating for the Sixers last season. How have Horford and Richardson gone about recreating that foul line frequency? Horford gets 1.9 FTA per 100, and Richardson a meh 4.2 per 100, which gives them 6.1 FTA, a total drop-off of 8.1 attempts per 100 possessions from the ‘19 to ‘20 season. Curses.
The Products of the Process
- Not only were the 2015-16 Sixers offensively inept, there should be a new word created for how opposed they were to scoring. They were the only team in the league not to have a single game in a sample size of 82 where they finished in the top 10 percentile of points per 100 possessions. Their best performance was an 88th percentile finish in a 114-89 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Their best raw points scored in a game on the season would be a 116-point performance in a double-digit loss to the Orlando Magic.
Nostalgic Numbers Corner
- As a member of the Sixers’ infamous 9-73 season of 1973, John Block Jr. was the team’s leader in Win Shares added with an underwhelming-at-best 3.4 WS. It’s the lowest mark by a WS season leader in Sixers history, but surprisingly only the eighth-lowest figure recorded by a team leader during a full regular season in NBA history. Going down the list, we have John Henson on the ‘14 Bucks, Dwyane Wade of the ‘08 Heat, Derek Anderson of the ‘00 Clippers, and Otis Smith of the ‘90 Magic all tied with 3.3. Carmelo Anthony of the ‘15 Knicks finished with 2.9, Steve Blake of the ‘06 Blazers had 2.8, and last, but also the least, we have Derek Harper of the ‘93 Clippers, who registered a vomit-inducing 2.7 WS to lead his team that season.
In Loving Memory of one Mr. Timothy John McConnell
- Cleaning the Glass tracks a stat called “Assist to Usage Ratio”, which tracks how often a player gets an assist given the amount of time they have the ball. In his five years as a member of the Association, T.J. McConnell has finished in the 88th, 100th, 92nd, 82nd and 98th percentile amongst all point guards in AST:USG ratio. That insane 100th percentile finish came in the Sixers’ first breakout year of 2016-17, where McConnell started a career-high 51 games and dished out a ludicrous 1.96 assists, with a 37.5 AST% and 14.4 US%.
- Here’s FiveThirtyEight’s Wins above replacement projection for McConnell over the next half-decade.
Some might use this as rational evidence for why Elton Brand and the front office decided to move on from McConnell last summer. I say it’s evidence that McConnell was on pace to be even more awesome before Brett Brown ruined him by trying to bury him beneath Markelle Fultz in the rotation.
Long live T.J. McClutchell AKA The Floor General AKA Rocco.