Here we are in the second half of the Sixers season and we don’t’ know what to expect. Should we look for the Sixers that have been dominant at home, or a mess on the road? Should we expect Embiid and Simmons to get along, or fall apart? Does Al Horford have a place on the team? Does Korkmaz actually continue to grow as a shooter? There’s a lot that we don’t know. Here’s what we do know.
Simmons and Embiid play well together
The big issue this year is how to make the two superstars compatible on the court at the same time. It’s an easy fix. Let Simmons run the offense. Eliminate all of the nonsense where he crosses half-court and hands off to someone else. He’s the best passer on the team and has the best vision. He creates nightmares for opposing coaches, but only if the ball is in his hands. Simmons is averaging 17/9/8 in spite of Brown taking him out of the offense. He needs to be given the offense and it all runs through him. Embiid, on the other hand, needs to accept a role. He needs to be himself, but he needs to be down low. Simmons will create space for the team if Embiid isn’t sitting at the three-point line and waiting to shoot a low percentage shot. Simmons is held back by Brett Brown’s offense. When Embiid is out, Simmons dominates. When they’re on the floor together, it’s not bad, but it’s not what it could be. Brown needs to let them play basketball and stop with his poor ideals of the offense.
Brown needs to be a better coach
Brett Brown needs to realize that his idea of what the team should be isn’t working. His substitutions, strategy and overall command of the team is not good. He needs to realize this isn’t the 2000’s Spurs. This team is different. Al Horford should remain a backup, despite his salary. He should be the guy on the second unit. Let Embiid and Simmons have their own time and run the team. Furkan Korkmaz should be in the starting lineup. His shooting has improved greatly and he was already a good shooter. But, given extended time in the starting lineup, Korkmaz will become the player they need. A shooter. Brown needs to realize that running his offense in the era we’re in, doesn’t work. Simmons needs to have the ball. Not Embiid. Joel will get his points and rebounds but needs to feed off Simmons. The offense cannot survive when they’re allowing Embiid to control it. It’s the coaches job to control the team. He’s not done that so far this year and when he’s tried he’s failed to utilize the players correctly. He needs to be a coach, not a mentor. As a coach, he should sit Simmons if he won’t shoot. He should sit Embiid if he’s not playing in his position. He needs to take control.
Embiid needs to be in good shape
For all of the discussion regarding Simmons and Embiid, Joel has not been completely healthy and he’s not in the best shape he could be. If Embiid could be counted on to be on the floor all the time, all of the games, getting the maximum minutes, then this wouldn’t be a discussion. He’s not. He’s also been held back by Brown and Brand. Last year, when he was all over social media, talking during games, laughing and having a good time, Embiid was dominant. This year, he was told to pull back and he’s having a good season, but he should be even more dominant than he’s been. Embiid needs to focus on his health. Not taking games off for “load management”. He needs to be in the lineup, all of the time. Hopefully, the break and the games leading up to it showed him that he’s able to dominate games, but he has to be there for the team.
Focus on defense
The team is a taller and faster team than most in the league. Simmons has become an elite defender. He’s at the top of the league in steals. He can guard multiple positions and Mattise Thybulle has shown that he can be elite when he’s given the time. The team thrives when they’re on point, defensively. When the focus is offense, they fall apart. Focus on what got you here. You’re a defensive team and when the playoffs come, you can’t have the question of whether you’re going to be defensive or offensive.
Stop the nonsense
Get on the same page. Let everyone know the goal and get them on board. This falls on the coach. Brown needs to get them together and let them know that the goal is a championship, which I’ve said the past few years isn’t a reality until next year, but they need to be better. Get everyone on the same page. Forget the outside media posts and questions whether the superstars can get along. Get them on the same page and let them know that there’s only one goal. Let them know that you’re in charge and this is how it’s going to go. Be a coach. Not a friend or mentor. The Sixers are a team with loads of talent and they could be one of the top teams in the league. Their identity is formed from the coach, who doesn’t seem to know how to handle it. He’s not the guy to get them to the next level. The best thing they could do is to move on from Brown, but that doesn’t seem to be an option this season. If they’re going to finish this season in a positive way, there needs to be some leadership. It has to come from Brown. If they continue as they’ve been, then they will fail and it will be on the coach.
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