The Sixers are a very good team, and even when they don’t play their best, they have been able to grind out wins all year long. If the team has a clear weakness at this point, it would likely be the limited amount of shot creators they have on the team. It’s always said that every team needs a player who can turn an ugly possession around and go get a bucket all on their own. We’ve seen flashes of just that form players like Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, and this season more than ever Joel Embiid to a certain extent. Yet, it still seems that the team goes through stretches where nobody can isolate and score however they want to.
Do the Sixers have enough shot creation on the roster to make a run to the NBA finals?
In terms of isolation points per game, the Sixers currently have Joel Embiid leading the way. Across the league, the big man ranks 16th in that category. His isolation frequency currently ranks 26th in the league at 12.4%. Come playoff time, Joel Embiid is going to see double teams like crazy, which might force other Sixers to make plays with the ball late in the shot clock. After Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris has the next highest isolation points per game on the team. His efficiency with isolations is actually one of the best in the league, ranking 7th at 58.1%. What may be more surprising is that Ben Simmons ranks fourth in the league at 65.5% from the field in isolations. While his frequency is only at 6.1%, this goes to show that if the volume of Ben Simmons isolations increases, the Sixers might stand to benefit.
While these numbers are interesting to look at, they may be misleading due to the fact that it’s coming from a pretty low volume compared to the game’s best shot creators. For reference, James Harden has a 33.7% isolation frequency to lead the league. The fact of the matter is that the playoffs are always different than the regular season. The game does tend to slow down and half-court offense does become a lot more critical. The Sixers should use every bit of their last 8 games to gain a comfort level with different looks in the half-court setting. Of course, they should not let this get in the way of winning games and claiming the top seed in the East, but the more prepared the Sixers are for the change of pace in the playoffs, the better off they will be.
It’s difficult to say that the Sixers do or do not have enough shot creation right now to make a legit finals run. The team’s best iso scorer is a 7-foot center that can do everything on a basketball court. Everything will obviously run through Embiid when he’s on the floor. On possessions where a team might deny Joel the ball, someone has to be able to take matters into their own hands and get a bucket. Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons will likely have those opportunities in the playoffs and their success could play a big role in how far the Sixers go in the playoffs. So while we can’t be certain if there’s enough shot creation on the team, we will very soon start to find out. The playoffs begin on May 22nd, just under three weeks from now, and after reclaiming the top seed in the East after a win in OT against the Spurs, things are looking good for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Photo: Elizabeth Robertson/Philadelphia