Sixers roundtable: Polarizing figures, playoff decisions and late-game lineups


Welcome back everyone! We weren’t able to push out a round table piece last week due to some unforeseen circumstances but we are back! We can’t wait for you to read what Tim and I have cooked up this week. Enjoy!


What is your opinion of Brett Brown keeping Ben Simmons off the floor late in games? How has it affected Ben and the team?

Yamil: Ben is not a good free throw shooter. It’s that plain and simple. He is shooting 57% from the free throw line. When the game gets close, can you really afford to have a 57% free throw shooter out there? No. Just look at what the Washington Wizards did against Ben. They made him go to the line 29 times, 24 of them coming in the 4th quarter, which was a record.

With that being said, how does a player learn to make clutch free throws if he never gets in that setting? Brett Brown tried to let him figure it out in the game against the Wizards and it almost cost them the game. The 76ers only ended up winning by 5 after having a big lead throughout the second half.

Not being on the floor late in close games hasn’t really affected Ben or his confidence. He will still take it to the rim and try to draw contact. It might affect the team a bit with having someone with such a high basketball IQ like Simmons not on the floor but overall, it’s good that Brett is finally starting to realize that teams will foul Simmons if he’s on the court and the game is tight. Ben Simmons needs to improve his free throw percentage if he wants to be out there on the court late in close situations.

Tim: This is where I have a problem. I agree with the shooting percentage, especially late in games but Ben is also the starting point guard and one of the team’s best defenders. Having him sit out will take away from his growth. If Brown was coaching and moving the players better during the game, we wouldn’t have these late game collapses. We should also have Redick, Belinelli, Saric and Ilyasova on the floor at the last minute of games. That’s not the best lineup, especially defensively, but the four of them all shoot over 90% from the free throw line.

I would put Ben out there with them because he has the ability to move the ball and get it to those guys. You can inbound to someone with a good free throw percentage, but this would really just be for the last minute of games. The last six or so minutes, Simmons should be on the floor. It’s frustrating.


2) Why is there so much negativity towards Robert Covington when he’s performing as he has for his whole career?

Yamil: Covington has always been a streaky shooter. I think people overlooked that fact when he started the season blazing hot from deep. Robert can get very hot when he wants to. He can also get frostbite out of nowhere. He is like J.R. Smith, but with way better defense, and I do mean WAY better defense. To me, an on and off shooter with great defensive instincts who isn’t afraid to take shots is definitely worth 11-12 million dollars per season (minus the 16 dollar salary re-negotiation for this year). He doesn’t deserve the backlash that he receives whenever he is on a cold streak because he still helps the team immensely on the defensive end. Then again, Philly fans are very passionate people.

Tim: I, honestly, don’t get it. If you look at his statistics, over the course of his career, he’s doing the exact same thing. People tend to look at the first few games, where he was shooting something like 50% from three-point land, and they expected him to have 25 points and shoot that well, every single night. Covington was extended, and I don’t think the contract is that bad, but they look at the huge bump this year and want to give him a hard time because he’s not Paul George. He’s been a very good defender and he’s scored just under 13 points a game for his career, which is just what he’s doing this year.


3) How is it that Dario Saric seems to get better as the season goes on?

Yamil: Dario Saric is just a workhorse. It’s in his blood. The man will do whatever needs to be done to help the team win. If that means becoming a serious perimeter threat, then that is what he is going to do. That is why Super Dario has become a fan favorite.

He has improved his 3 point shooting from his rookie season. He shot 31% from deep last year and is shooting 40% this year. That is a huge boost for the team. So now, not only can Dario grab a rebound, run the floor and make a dazzling pass in transition but he can also be the spot up man when needed.

I pray to the Sixer gods that Dario remains a Sixer for life. There aren’t too many players out there who work harder than him. He is criminally underrated.

Tim: Criminally underrated is a good way to put it. With the way the team plays, he’s been pretty consistent, but he is doing exactly what he did last year, by coming on strong at the end of the year. It’s almost like he’s doing the complete opposite of most young players who tend to hit a wall, physically, at the end of the year. He gets better. He’s scoring more points, shooting better, making better plays, and he’s stepped up his defense. He’s the perfect compliment for the Simmons/Embiid duo who are the teams stars. He does a great job of doing all the things that are needed and gives the team another top player. If he continues his development, he could get up to 17 or 18 points per game and that would help even more.


4)  Who could be the X-Factor in a playoff series for the 76ers?

Tim: Right now, it’s definitely Markelle Fultz. With his return to the court this week, he looked good and not at all hesitant in his play. He’s a strong player and he’s super athletic. His defense is something that the second unit desperately needs and his offense is starting quality, but he’s not going to get those first team minutes.  Which I believe is fine. Let him get close to 20 minutes per game, operating with the second unit and that’s going to make the Sixers a terrible opponent for anyone.

He already showed, with 10 points and 8 assists that he’s capable of doing a lot and having the consensus #1 overall draft pick commanding your second unit is a blessing in disguise for this team. Late game defense, as well as being a good shooter and good at the free throw line is something that the Sixers really need. If he gets in to the flow, he could be deadly in his role in the playoffs and with Embiid, Simmons and the rest of the team supporting him and cheering him on, he’s only going to improve his confidence. He just needs to get used to being in actual NBA games.

Yamil: I agree about Fultz being an X-Factor now that he’s back. I also think Dario could be exactly what the 76ers need to win a couple key games in the playoffs. We already talked about his improved shooting. Add that to the endless hustle and energy he brings to the team and you’re looking at someone who can really surprise some people in the postseason.

Opponents have Dario’s shooting ability in their scouting reports now so they’re going to close out hard on him. However, Dario is not a one dimensional shooter. He will take you off the dribble and make a great pass to a cutter or an open wing shooter. Saric is a huge reason as to why the 76ers have had one of the league’s best offenses since January. Don’t be shocked when you see Dario balling in the playoffs.


Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

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