The Sixers Still Have Work to Do
Still, the Sixers retain their share of warts that could complicate a title run.
While the open floor has produced a more equitable offense, it has also masked the team’s need for a true half-court playmaker. Though the newly acquired Batum should help, Embiid’s continued struggle passing off the dribble is a weakness every opponent highlight when operating against the Sixers.
The team’s focus on creating turnovers has also exposed a roster that may be athletic but lacks the defensive awareness crucial to knowing when to gamble on that end of the floor. Despite entering the weekend with a solid 107 defensive rating, the 76ers may be in for a rude awakening when working against teams that can punish them when they overextend.
And, while Nurse has preached off-ball movement, that portion of the offense has been more theoretical than actual. Even when the Sixers try to create movement, they have a worrying tendency to wander about, jogging with little sense of urgency on routes that lead into one another or nowhere at all. For a coaching staff that preached the virtues of cutting, that the squad ranks in the bottom half of cuts toward the basket has to be concerning.
Yet, even if Philadelphia remains a tier below the top contenders in the NBA, there is no denying the renewed sense of optimism that has come to surround the franchise. Whether because of Nurse’s coaching acumen, the departure of Harden, the continued growth of Maxey, or a combination of all three, the Sixers are playing with a renewed sense of purpose to start the season.
The Sixers were written off before the NBA season but thanks to a hot start and assets from the Harden trade, they can make a splashy deal for a 3rd star.
Armed with draft assets and cap flexibility, they are as likely a buyer in the next superstar sweepstakes as any team in the league. Life comes at you fast in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers are proving to be agile enough to thrive in it.