This has not been a fun season for the Philadelphia 76ers or their fans. After the trade for Andrew Bynum, there was real hope this team would be a contender. At the very least, they’d rise from the mediocrity they’ve wallowed in for the past decade. Instead, we’ve gotten the opposite. A team that could have been at the top of the Eastern Conference is instead headed for the lottery.
At this point, it might be best that the Sixers miss the playoffs. Still, there are a few things they can do to make their brand of basketball a little bit more watchable.
A More Aggressive Jrue
There’s not much room to nitpick Jrue Holiday’s All Star season. He’s been literally the only player Doug Collins has been able to count on night-in, night-out (Thad Young would be the second, but, you know, injuries). If there was anything, though, it’s been Jrue’s reluctance to get to the hoop and take contact.
Holiday’s free throw rate (free throws made divided by field goal attempts) is a paltry .145. As the only Sixer that can reliably get into the paint, that’s just not going to cut it. Holiday is going to have to learn how to take advantage of his ability to get into the paint and create more and-one opportunities for himself.
Thad on a Roll
While I’m not going to sit here and diagram plays all day, I think I have a pretty solid grasp of the X’s and O’s of basketball. When I watch the Sixers, I see a missing element that just about every other offense in the league incorporates: the pick and roll. It’s frustrating as a fan, because the Sixers have a guy who would appear to be an excellent roll man in Thad Young.
Young is a crafty scorer around the basket. Even though he does everything left-handed, it still seems to catch opponents off guard on a nightly basis. As a result, Young is shooting an excellent 70.5 percent at the rim. The Sixers have some good ball handlers and passers in Holiday and Evan Turner to run the PnR with Young.
Over a third of Holiday’s assists come at the rim, while half of Turner’s buckets come on shots at the hoop. Throw in some pick and roll action with the devastatingly effective Young, and those numbers (along with the Sixers’ efficiency) are sure to spike. Having Young rolling hard to the hoop could also free up some space for the team’s shooters, something that’s needed on a squad that doesn’t always have the best spacing.
Get this guy (and hopefully this hairstyle) on the court this season. In an actual NBA game.
The Sixers are going to have to do some serious thinking this offseason on what to do with Bynum. If they get to see him play with Jrue, Thad, Evan and the rest, (it really feels like a big if at this point) it will make the decision a little bit easier. And after the torture he’s put the Sixers’ front office and fans through, the least he could do is play some ball.