Philadelphia 76ers: 3 takeaways from Thursday’s Zoom press conference

After practice, Brett Brown, Alec Burks, and Shake Milton sat down for a press conference via Zoom to give us a little insight on the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Philadelphia 76ers arrived in Orlando one week ago and have had their first formal team practices in over four months over the past five days. After practice, head coach Brett Brown, Alec Burks, and Shake Milton sat down for a virtual press conference via Zoom to give us a little insight into the current state of the Sixers.

This press conference got me even more excited to see the Sixers take the floor than I was before. I haven’t been this hyped up to watch a Philly game since Brett Brown announced Joel Embiid would be making his NBA debut (game 7 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals is a close second).

The press conference covered a range of topics, but there were a few things that left me impressed and, more importantly, excited.

Simmons’ growing confidence in his 3-pointer

Yes, I know we’ve heard this story before, we’ve all seen the videos of Ben Simmons knocking down threes during workouts or pickup games against non-NBA players. But things feel different this time around.

Ben Simmons uploaded yet another video working out and showing off his improved jump shot, yet he almost refuses to put on display at practice on in games. This time though, a player tells him he should shoot more, and his shot looks good, Simmons replied, “Orlando,” implying that his new and improved jump shot will be on full display in the bubble.

Then at the press conference, Brown had this to say, “His 3-point shot is looking good. He’s shot more threes in practice the last few days than he might’ve for almost half the season…and I know he’s getting tremendous encouragement from his teammates.”

Although he never stated that Simmons would shoot more threes, he was implicit of the fact. While I don’t expect him to jump up the team leaderboard for three-point attempts immediately, I certainly expect him to start taking at least one or two per game and, at the very least, shooting more in the mid-range.

Shake and bake

Shake Milton emerged from the depths of the G League last year and earned a roster spot. Towards the end of January of 2020, Milton became a fixture of the Philadelphia 76ers rotation.

From Jan. 22-March 11 (the last game the Philadelphia 76ers played before the season was postponed), Milton averaged 12.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists in 25.5 minutes per game while posting .526/.512/.763 shooting splits.

Milton’s deft touch from beyond the arc is what gave head coach Brown the confidence to promote him to the starting lineup and move Ben Simmons over to power forward. With Shake joining the starting lineup, the Sixers are gearing up to let loose a lineup that we have not seen all season.

Brown is giddy to have a point guard who has the shooting ability to force defenders to try and chase over the screen as opposed to going under or shooting the gaps. He plans to take full advantage of this new wrinkle in the offense, stating that he fully expects to run a lot more pick and rolls than the team have run in the past.

With Shake Milton running the point and initiating more pick and rolls, the Sixers can now make defenders pay for going under the screen by shooting the three, juxtaposed to when Simmons is initiating the high screen and roll.

When asked about playing with Ben at practice and running pick and rolls together, shake responded, “I keep saying it, but playing with Ben is super easy Because he’s so unselfish. We can feed off of each other because we both can pass…I feel like our relationship is constantly growing”.

Tobias cares about his teammates

While Tobias Harris didn’t take part in the media session besides trolling Shake Milton and walking front of the camera multiple times during his interview, his name did come up, and it wasn’t for anything that happened on the court.

Knowing that he and his teammates will be in the bubble for approximately three months and worried about the effects it can have on someone’s mental health and psyche, Harris got the players on the Philadelphia 76ers meditation chairs. Not only does Harris have his teammates back on the court but off the court as well.

When having a hard time adjusting to life inside the bubble or relaxing, members of the Sixers squad can comfortably relax and unwind in their brand new meditation chairs, get their mind right and stay level headed.

This gesture is just another example on a long list illustrating the type of genuine, generous, and caring person and teammate that Tobias Harris is.

Final Thoughts

I was very impressed by Shake Milton’s calm and poised demeanor. I was extremely excited hearing Brett Brown discuss unleashing this new-look lineup that should wreak havoc on opposing defenses.

With that being said, I was most impressed with Tobias Harris’ awareness and generosity to make his teammates’ mental health his responsibility.

Next: Joel Embiid to carry the Sixers in playoffs
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