Currently, the Philadelphia 76ers are fifth in the Eastern Conference, with a 30-17 record. The Milwaukee Bucks on the other hand, are first in the conference, with an amazing 40-6 record! Recently, the Sixers have been playing without their best player, Joel Embiid, as he has missed the last nine games with a torn ligament in his left ring finger. But, they have been playing the best I have seen this year, with a 6-3 record in those nine games. They have been running a very similar offense that the Bucks run, by having Ben Simmons run the ball to the basket, passing out when he can’t make the play, and resetting. Giannis Antetokounmpo does the same thing for the Bucks, mainly being that both play like abnormally tall guards with amazing passing ability. But there is a major difference between the 76ers and Bucks that makes the latter NBA contenders…
OFF-BALL SHOOTING!!! Being that Ben Simmons mainly runs the offense with the starters without Embiid, they still have virtually no off-ball shooting. The only decent shooter this year is Tobias Harris, as he is shooting 35.9 percent from downtown while shooting five attempts per game. Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford are all shooting at most 33 percent from three-point range, which is unacceptable. Off of the bench, there are only two players who shoot decently from the three-point line who get major minutes, and they are Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle. But, both can be very streaky, so I wouldn’t consider them reliable shooters. With Joel Embiid coming back soon, I’m afraid the 76ers could become even worse. Not only does he clog the paint, he doesn’t provide any shooting. Ben Simmons can’t play like Giannis with someone blocking his way. But if Joel Embiid stays outside, he is no threat offensively.
The Bucks have an absurd amount of good shooters, both in the starting lineup and coming off the bench. Khris Middleton, Wesley Matthews, and Eric Bledsoe are all more than capable of making a consistent amount of threes in any game. They also have George Hill, Kyle Korver, and Ersan Ilyasova coming off the bench who are great shooters. Even players like Donte DiVencenzo and Brook Lopez can go off any given night if another role player is struggling. The 76ers have no one who can do that to help the team to a win, other than Richardson and Harris. And if the Sixers run through Embiid, which they have when healthy, it takes away from Ben Simmons game, and makes him no threat in the game.
I feel that the best way to make this team work, Simmons and Embiid need to alternate minutes. But even if they do that, the role players around them aren’t reliable enough to hit their shots. The 76ers need to make this a priority this offseason. Off-ball shooting, and having Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid work well on the court together are the two things that they need to work on to become true contenders, like the Milwaukee Bucks.