In a league where star power reigns supreme, the Philadelphia 76ers’ core needs to continue to develop to maintain sustained success.
Over the years, the Philadelphia 76ers have gone from a mediocre, middling franchise to one of the most promising franchises in the NBA. After years of mediocrity, the Sixers seem to have figured things out, to an extent. Nevertheless, the team is not without its flaws.
As the formulation of the team’s current makeup began, fans were full of hope and worry. The key lies in the development of their top tier talent. In a league with dynamic duos across the board, the 76ers seem to have a potential Big Three in the works.
After drafting Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Sixers needed to acquire a third piece to the puzzle. First came Jimmy Butler, who ultimately left at the end of the 2019 season. Then, the Sixers traded for Tobias Harris that same season. Nevertheless, the Sixers went from a dynamic duo to a quartet to a Big Three throughout just one season.
Finally, here we are.
The trio of Simmons, Embiid, and Harris has its positives and negatives. Embiid and Harris can stretch the floor, to an extent. Embiid shot 34.8 percent and Harris shot 36.2 percent from 3-point range this season. In a vacuum, this would open up opportunities for Simmons to execute. But alas, the Sixers don’t shoot it well enough to mitigate Simmons’ lack of shooting.
As such, the team runs into issues with spacing. In particular, the three-man lineup of Embiid, Harris, and Simmons have a -.034 net 3-point percentage. As such, this lineup simply doesn’t knock down threes nearly as much as one would hope. This lineup does not necessarily fit the modern-day NBA’s model of space and pace.
On top of that, this lineup does not see nearly as many minutes together as it should. It currently sits at sixth on the team with a smidge over 612 minutes throughout the season. This is primarily because of two main reasons: injuries and lack of fit.
Philly’s top trio has seen its fair share of injuries this season. Particularly, Simmons and Embiid have missed the most time of the three individuals. Thankfully, Tobias Harris has played every game for the Sixers. At the very least, Harris is reliable, having averaged 19.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game.
On the other hand, Embiid missed 21 games this season, varying from load management and a shoulder injury, preventing him from providing more of a spark this season. Nevertheless, Embiid has averaged 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game.
Simmons has missed 11 games this season due to a back injury. Before the injury that was set to keep him out an extended period, Simmons was averaging similar numbers to last season, putting up 16.7 points, 8.2 assists and 7.8 per game. However, Simmons has shown quite the spark defensively, averaging a career-high 2.1 steals per game.
At the very least, the Sixers can rest assured that they have two blue-chip pieces in Simmons and Embiid. If they can stay healthy, the possibilities are endless. That’s the key. Now, Simmons obviously needs to develop a jump-shot. However, the lack of spacing across the board is concerning. As such, Tobias Harris might have to be the one to spread the floor for Philly.
Harris has been a consistent player in his own right. If anything, Tobi is reliable. You always know what you’re gonna get with Harris. However, it might be time for Harris to step it up and take on more of a role in the offense. Harris has never averaged more than 20.9 points per game and 5.6 threes attempted per game in his career.
If the Sixers want to mitigate the issue of lack of spacing, he needs to be more selfish. Harris is the most consistent piece of the offense, but the Sixers need more from him.
Ultimately, the Sixers have a relatively promising Big Three, but they need to develop further at both ends. Ideally, the Sixers need to work on spreading the floor to create more opportunities for success. The trio of Simmons, Embiid, and Harris has quite the ceiling, creating a need for cohesion and unity across the board. As such, spreading the floor will be the key for the 76ers going forward.