The Sixers may not have come up with a win over Washington, but taking an Eastern powerhouse all the way to the end has to be commended and a positive sign for the future. With that in mind, here are six takeaways from the game.
1. Ben Simmons is for real. He is a real problem when other teams choose to have guards on him and his vision and mobility are bad for teams that try to use their three or four to try to defend him. His ability to move the ball in transition and his passing ability will make it difficult for any team to really focus on him, especially with Joel Embiid able to draw out centers who have to guard against his outside shooting.
2. Robert Convington has developed in to quite a weapon for the Sixers. With Embiid and Simmons being focused on, Covington was left open and it showed in his game high 29 points and 7 of 11 on three pointers. He’s a valuable defender, but adding the scoring to his game will make the starting lineup a nightmare to guard. With JJ Reddick on the floor at the same time, the Sixers have a very potent starting five that should get better when Markelle Fultz gets his shot at joining them.
3. Dario Saric played a poor game with only 3 points and 3 rebounds. His 1 of 5 shooting aren’t indicative of how he will normally play, but he’s played a lot of basketball over the past two years between the NBA and his international playing. It should be something to watch as the Sixers rested him in the preseason for just this reason. The Sixers are going to need a lot more out of Saric as he heads the second team this season and they won’t be in many games if he’s not playing well.
4. Fourth quarter turnovers are going to kill the team. Convington and Bayless had two bad ones toward the end of the game. In order to keep with teams like the Wizards, the Sixers need to find a way to eliminate this. Markelle Fultz, with his vision, length and passing ability should, again, be able to help this as he’s a better passer than Bayless. Right now, though, the Sixers would be best suited keeping Bayless on the court, so that he can showcase himself for other teams.
5. Speaking of other teams, the Chicago Bulls should be in the market for someone of the skill level of Jahlil Okafor, given the fight that happened at practice this past week. The big issue is that Okafor played zero minutes in the opener and doesn’t really look to be in line for any minutes. Even with Amir Johnson in foul trouble and Embiid on a minutes restriction, Okafor still saw no minutes. This doesn’t bode well for Okafor as a player or as a trade chip. Okafor played well in the preseason and looks to be in the best shape he’s ever been in, but not playing is hurting his stock. The Bulls, realistically, don’t have anyone that would fit the Sixers and that will hurt their chances seeing as Hinkie isn’t around to take draft picks from them.
6. Markelle Fultz looked good in his 18 minutes. 10 points and 3 rebounds is a reasonable showing, given that he’s on the second team to start the season. If Saric can step up his game while playing with Fultz, they could provide a very good second team for the Sixers. As his play continues, against other teams second squads, his confidence should grow so that he’ll be ready to assume a starting role. If the Sixers are able to get something of value for Bayless, Fultz could make the starting five a dangerous one.
Nik Stauskas, along with Okafor, saw no minutes in the opener. Stauskas has had a few years in the league and been given the time to develop in to the player most thought he would be when drafted, only that hasn’t happened. At this point, the Sixers are better served giving minutes to Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Furkan Korkmaz as they’re both better offensively and defensively.
It’s only one game, but the troubles and tired legs of Saric need to be monitored as well as the team finding a way to showcase Okafor enough that they can draw some sort of reward from another team that needs a quality scorer in the post.
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports