Establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with last season, the Sixers finished as the 3rd best team in the Eastern Conference and 5th best in the league with a 52-30 record. Emerging superstars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid anchored a top 5 defense that led the team to the Eastern Conference Semifinals where they were stumped by the Boston Celtics. Despite having such a successful 2017-2018 campaign, the Sixers still have room for improvement. Here are 3 things that they must improve upon if they want to be the best team in the league next season:
The 76ers gave up 16.5 turnovers per game, placing them dead last in the league. Out of those 16.5 turnovers, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid combined to average 7.1 of them. When your two star players are responsible for almost half of your turnovers, you’re going to have issues with controlling the ball.
The Sixers are also still a very young team. After the trade deadline last season, they were the 2nd youngest team in the league with an average age of 24.69. Inexperience will factor into why they couldn’t take care of the ball as well as the incredibly fast pace that they play at and to be frank, the lack of ball handlers on the team.
The Sixers need to clean up their act and protect the ball at all times. You can’t win meaningful games by turning it over and giving the other team easy buckets. Limiting their turnovers is a must if the team wants to go to the next level.
Knocking Down Free Throws
The Sixers ranked 23rd in free throw percentage connecting on only 75.2% of their shots from the charity stripe. They had 7 players (if you include Demetrius Jackson) who shot under the league average of 76.7% from the line. Not converting on easy buckets is a quick way to lose close games. Maybe they won’t find themselves in so many tight situations late in the game like last season if they make more of their free throws.
Finish Games Strong
For whatever reason, the Sixers just always seem to fall apart in the 4th quarter. They are one of the best 1st quarter teams in the league but one of the worst in the 4th. They only put up 25.7 points per game in the 4th, which is 17th in the league, as compared to their 29 points in the 1st quarter and 27.2 points in the 2nd and 3rd.
When it matters most, they crumble under the pressure. Ensuring that the team plays as strong and focused in the second half as they do in the first half needs to be a focal point for them going into the new season.
The Sixers are already one of the best teams in the league. They have the right pieces and a good system around them. With a few tweaks, they can be the the best team in the Eastern Conference and maybe even the entire league.
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