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A change in approach has the Mike Scott Hive alive and well

Fewer contested shots = More buzz in the Hive

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Hive was dead. All that was left was his white polo antics on the bench and a bunch of Philadelphians likely regretting the bee-shaped tattoos that adorned their necks. Meanwhile, we all waited for Daryl Morey to find someone to take Mike Scott’s $5.7 million expiring deal at the upcoming trade deadline.

But then in a road game versus the Phoenix Suns on February 13, the 6-foot-9 forward from Virginia found himself on the court for the first time in a month. Yet more important than what Scott did do on the court that night is what he didn’t do — shoot.

Mike Scott finished with zero field goal attempts in 11 minutes in Phoenix that day, a far cry from the 3-point gunner we had all come to love in 2019, be annoyed with in 2020, and full on disregard come 2021.

Whatever, right? It was a one-game fluke and Scott was wiping off the rust from his injury/performance-related exile to the bench. The only other game in the season where he had failed to get up a shot was his January 14 outing against the depleted Miami Heat, when he was only on the hardwood for five whole minutes.

Well after taking a whopping 44 shots in his first eight pre-February games, Scott has only attempted a mere 17 shots in the same span of eight games, yet has made only three fewer field goals! Whether it was a stern talking-to from Doc Rivers or a result of self-reflection, Mike Scott needs to stay with the program he started on during the month of February.

Mike Scott’s February Renaissance

Stats Mike Scott First 8 Games Mike Scott Last 8 Games
Stats Mike Scott First 8 Games Mike Scott Last 8 Games
FGA 44 17
FGM 14 11
MPG 19.1 15.8
3's Attempted 36 12
3's Made 9 9
3pt % 25.00% 75%

A recent trend that many a Sixers fan and writer has brought to light recently is the widespread team reluctance to launch 3s. This is what made Tuesday night’s drubbing of the Pacers even more enjoyable, as the Sixers launched 35 triples throughout the game, most of which came prior to the fourth quarter when the outcome was already in hand. While these have more often been directed toward sharpshooters in the starting lineup, Tobias Harris and Seth Curry, Scott has caught a few tweets and comments pointing out his newfound reluctance to fire away from deep.

I agree with the notion that the Sixers would be wise to up their 3-point frequency, as they currently sit at 28th in the league per Cleaning the Glass, which isn’t going to cut it against the best shooting teams in the Association. However, I think it’s fine and even beneficial that Scott has bypassed some potential triples during his recent stretch.

Early on, the Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton was ambitious to the degree of being harmful. He was shooting early in the shot clock, shooting over solid contests from defenders and launching attempts off of movement despite having been a better stationary shooter for his whole career.

Some of those attempts aren’t too terrible, as Scott’s height and high-release point give him space to get them off somewhat cleanly, yet none of them were going in. A Mike Scott semi-open 3 isn’t the worst thing that can happen to an offensive possession for the Sixers, but it’s not preferred to swinging the ball to the next open man to find a better shooter/scorer on perimeter, or to eventually dump it down to the MVP frontrunner inside.

Take this possession for example.

Ben Simmons drew the attention of the defense at the free throw line, Duncan Robinson helped one pass away, and Scott took the 3 when the ball was kicked to him. That’s okay. But there are 17 seconds left on the shot clock when he fires, and given his drop-off at that point in the season, a jumper in which Robinson recovers to give a good contest is suboptimal. Scott can swing to a semi-open Danny Green, who could either take his trademark corner shot or enter it to Simmons inside who would now have post position against Tyler Herro. He could also swing it back out top to the trailer, who could then work it around to Embiid with a one-on-one opportunity and a cleared side of the court.

Compare that to Scott’s nine makes from deep during his past eight games. He’s no longer flying off pin downs, taking one dribble pull-up treys, and perhaps most importantly, has toned down his desire to let it fly from above the break. When given any look from that top half of the court, he was shooting it instead of swinging to the corner. In the past eight games, he’s the one now sitting in the corners or low wings, often having the ball swung to him as the last man in a passing sequence, be it inside-out or quick tosses around the arc.

Prior to February 13, Scott was a dreadful 6-of-25 on above-the-break shots, making it his most frequent and simultaneously most inefficient area of attack. Since then, he’s balanced out his 3-point diet, with an even split of six attempts from the corner compared to six above the break.

He’s still prone to an occasional misguided off-the-dribble attempt from the mid-range, though that only occurs every few games, and more often than not, he’s been looking to swing the ball along. He’s accepted his role as a finisher of plays only after the Sixers have initiated actions and forced the rotations that get him open from 3. If it’s early and little has been run yet, Scott has looked to find an open teammate and contribute to good offense.

Neither ends in a bucket, but both are encouraging cases of Scott’s willingness to wait resulting in solid looks for two plus-shooters in Curry and Green.

Defensively, he’s not a lockdown piece by any stretch, but he is still tall and at least capable of lateral movements, providing a baseline of competence that should be appreciated. It’s simplistic thinking, but at the end of the day, being taller and covering more space due to your size and length is important. I’ve lamented the Sixers lack of size in their bench, which often results in four small, young dudes plus foul-machine Dwight Howard on the inside, and Scott at 6-foot-9 somewhat solves that issue. Again, he’s not going to gobble up rebounds or impress with some incredible off-ball rotation, but since accepting his limited role on offense, he’s given improved effort on the defensive end and can be trusted as a non-liability. That’s not something that can be said for other members in the Sixers’ rotation.

Scott’s best value to this team might still be his very tradable contract, and Morey could definitely use this past month of improved play as leverage in any negotiations. He’s far from a piece that moves the needle, but he’s moved into the net positive value range as a bench option after starting the season significantly below that line. Whether he helps the Sixers as a trustworthy floor spacer with size or as being just enticing enough to be thrown in a deal for a trade chip that the team desires, his recent resurgence in play has been a positive under-the-radar development during the past month.

Long live the legendary Mike Scott Hive.

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