The Philadelphia Trendsetters - Do the Sixers Know Something the League Doesn't?
The Philadelphia 76ers may be primed to etch a new way of dominating the league into basketball history. The NBA, now, is more than social media pettiness and ESPN Trade Machine abuse. It revolves around pace and space with versatility at every position. The elite teams like the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and San Antonio Spurs are the precedent for where following this team building method can take you. Players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant are able to constantly make coaches reconsider their career choices through sheer boundless talent and capability at nearly 7 feet tall. Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard are switching defensively from point guards to centers to your uncle who swears Wilt Chamberlain would average 50 points a game in today's era. He means well.
This style of play was unprecedented just a few decades ago, adding to the belief of the constant evolution of the game. Yet, while perimeter players have largely reigned supreme in today's NBA, the Sixers have two potential franchise talents that will look to start next to one another at the power forward and center spots - Joel " The Process" Embiid and Ben "Not 'the Process' but Still an Extraordinarily Large Part of It" Simmons. Although one nickname may be better and more real than the other, these players look to be a unique counter to the rest of the NBA.
Instead of a typical perimeter oriented attack, Philadelphia can base their offense on pressure asserted from their front court. Although they may execute their offense in different ways, generating looks from behind the arch and at the rim is the primary goal. Like much of the league, pick and roll play will be a large facet of the Sixers offense. Yet, instead of running the pick and roll to create mismatches for isolations like Cleveland or to have the roll man crash the defense for open shooters like Golden State, the Sixers can run a rarely utilized 4/5 pick and roll that features a capable ball handler at the 4. The most unique wrinkle to this will be Joel's ability to pop and create offense inside or outside of the arch. With this, Joel's 2 hour long pump fake may become one of the most dangerous moves in the league.
The Philadelphia Sixers will continue their unique theme by having one of their primary defensive rebounders, Ben Simmons, also serve as their point guard. Ben will be able to push the ball while being a constant offensive mismatch in transition, creating a myriad of scoring opportunities all while having a 7'2 goliath as the trailer. This could lead into an offense that utilizes Joel Embiid like Kevin Love was used in Minnesota. We're talking about buzz cut, not-missing-any-meals Love. That guy was a monster, much how Joel will be as he creates out of elbow and high post touches.
Don’t worry, even Markelle Fultz gets in on this trend setting action. When their first few options on the perimeter are taken away, the Warriors and Cavaliers are afforded the luxury of dumping the ball inside to Durant or LeBron to create scoring opportunities. The Sixers will ostensibly reverse this method. Their already reversed offense that revolves around elbow or high post touches and 4/5 pick and rolls will be able to resort to isolation play when their initial actions fail as well. Instead of going from failed perimeter attacks to an isolation in the post, the Sixers will turn their failed initial post and elbow attacks into a perimeter isolation that features Markelle flashing his high level creation potential.
I'm not here to anoint the Sixers as the second coming of basketball supremacy or any of the like. Instead, this is just to point out how the Sixers may be able to zig while the rest of the league follows the common place zag. Whether it is a capable counter is yet to be seen. October 17th can't come fast enough.
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