Shooting Is a Struggle in Philly
The 2018-2019 NBA season is officially a week old, and we have been blessed with a lot of entertaining basketball so far. One of the more entertaining teams in the league and contenders to win the Eastern Conference are the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers are currently 2-3 and even though they have been playing decent basketball so far, there are still things the Sixers need to improve on if they actually want to win the East. One of those things is shooting as the Sixers have struggled with that for the past few seasons.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, as of right now, the Sixers are second in the league in three point attempts at 34.4 per game. However, they are 21st in the league at hitting those three point shots at 34.3 percent. Even though these stats are premature, it aligns with the percentages of last season as well. Last year Sixers hit 36.9 percent of their threes. These percentages are decent, but they don’t help the Sixers moving forward for a couple of reasons.
First, a couple of players that were key shooters for the Sixers are no longer on the team in Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. Belinelli, especially, was crucial in the Sixers postseason run. They both shot percentages in the high 30s. Second, the bulk of three point shots have been taking by JJ Redick and Robert Covington, the Sixers’ current best three point shooters. It’s difficult to solely rely on Redick to make three-point shooters as opposing defenses are keen to it and Covington is too inconsistent.
In order for the Sixers to compete for a chance to go to the Finals, they are going to either have to develop the players they have or acquire some new players along the way. The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors are standing in the Sixers’ way and both of those teams have a plethora of shooters. In today’s game, three-point shooting is critical, and the Sixers are going to have to improve to contend.
The Sixers need help in shooting, but they also need help period. Right now, the Sixers are 11th in bench scoring according to hoopsstats.com. They are averaging 39.8 points per game off the bench, but it is mainly due to Redick as he has scored over 30 points in two of his last three games.
Aside from Redick, the Sixers main production off the bench is TJ McConnell, Amir Johnson, and Landry Shamet. McConnell is mainly a floor general, Johnson is an energy guy inserted in to provide rebounding and defense and Shamet is a rookie who was drafted late in the first round. None of these guys are primarily scorers, including Redick, which means that the Sixers do not really have players that can score off the bench. We don’t know if Markelle Fultz is remaining in the starting lineup and we are also awaiting the return of Wilson Chandler (a guy capable of putting up 12-16 points per game), but the Sixers need to address their bench depth.
The Sixers have had a decent start to the season shooting wise, but it has been against Eastern Conference lottery teams for the most part and their schedule will only get tougher. Philadelphia’s shooting and lack of bench production is a cause for concern and they will have to fix these issues some time during the season in order to be set for the playoffs.
So far, Redick is averaging 21.2 points per game off the bench for them, while also leading the team in three pointers made. If he were to get injured, it would take away Philadelphia’s shooting and bench production; that is too much for one man to maintain. The Sixers need to get some help and they need to execute better or they will get bounced out in the second round again.