There are two schools of thought right now for the Philadelphia 76ers. The first is that the team just isn’t as good as we thought they’d be, and the second is that they’ve had Embiid, Harris, Green, Curry, and Thybulle all missed time, and it’s taking them a bit to get it going again. After starting the season 8-2, the Sixers have lost nine of their last twelve games but do not panic Sixers fans, at least, not yet.
Embiid has returned, and despite his 42 points in his first game back, he’s looked out of sorts. He’s shot just 33.9% from the field since returning, including 3-17 in an 88-87 loss to the Celtics on Wednesday night. He’s been chipping in with fifteen rebounds per game in those three, but Embiid is supposed to be the star and shooting 7-33 over the past two games, just isn’t cutting it.
Meanwhile, Tobias Harris has not been helping as he should in those three games. He’s shooting 38.3% from the floor and a whopping 8% from beyond the arc. (You read that right, it’s EIGHT PERCENT). Harris was 4-1 against the Celtics, and you could argue that if Embiid and Harris had played just slightly better, the game could have gone to the Sixers.
While Tyrese Maxey started off playing very well this season and had a few bouts with growing pains as having to be the starting point guard, and while he’s still learning, the 25% shooting over the past three games has really hurt the team. His scoring has been down to ten points per game, and he, like the rest of the team, just isn’t playing well.
So, who is playing well, you might ask? Seth Curry. Plain and simple, just Curry. He’s been averaging over eighteen points per game over the last three and shooting 56.7% from the floor and 50% from three-point land. Curry’s line for the season is just insane. Averaging 16.3 points is fine for a guy who’s really like a fourth option in the Sixers offense, but his shooting has been lights out. Curry is currently in line for the 50/40/90 club if he continues this pace throughout the season. In 34 minutes per game, Curry is has a shooting line of 51.3/42.5/91.7. He’s been the one person to actually play better over the past few games.
So, is it injuries, or are the Sixers not that good? It’s the cohesiveness among the players after having the injuries/Covid restrictions, hamper what a hot start to the season was.
As the team moves forward, there shouldn’t be an issue even if people are starting to panic. One potential bonus that could really help the team is if they decide to trade Ben Simmons. It’s been on everyone’s mind since Simmons passed up a wide-open dunk at the end of last season’s playoff loss to the Hawks.
Simmons hasn’t been in the news for any new antics of late, and that may be a good thing as teams could look at him as getting into game shape and focusing on playing basketball rather than posturing and making excuses for his lack of development as a player. He’s reportedly been at the Sixers practice facility after a short stint, playing with college players.
If the Sixers want to get a good return for Simmons and Simmons could be put in the best position possible, then they should ship him to the Spurs. Take back Dejounte Murray and anything else the Spurs are willing to ship over for him. Coach Greg Popovich has spoken well of Simmons in the past and could probably, if anyone can, get the most out of Simmons.
Murray, meanwhile, is two months younger than Simmons and putting up better stats than Simmons has in his career. Currently, Murray is averaging 18.9 points per game to go along with 8.4 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game. These are the type of numbers that everyone envisions Simmons have around this point in his career, instead of the sinking stats that he’s had for the past three seasons.
The knock on Murray is that he’s shooting just 30.6% from beyond the three-point line this season. With the quality of shooters the Sixers have, as they planned on having Simmons be the one to get them the ball in a good position, Murray would be able to improve his assist numbers and get some more open looks from beyond the arc. Anything is better than Simmons from that perspective. He’s also a 70% free throw shooter, the likes of which Simmons may never see.
Talk all you want about players like Jaylen Brown, CJ McCollum, OG Anunoby, or even De’Aaron Fox, but Murray fits this team seamlessly as he would take over Simmons starting point guard job, adding more to the team and forcing the defense to actually play upon him. It would allow Tyrese Maxey to get back to running the second team and alleviate some of the pressure he may be feeling as a second-year player, thrown into the starting rotation on a team that’s expected to compete for a championship.
The Sixers have struggled of late but, it’s not a reason to get upset or start to panic; at least, not yet.