2020 has been a year of surprises all across the board. In the sports world, one of the biggest? Ben Simmons shooting, and actually making, 3-Pointers. As well as starting…at power forward? When you look at this 76ers offense over the last few years there has been one man leading the offense from the PG position. And that’s 6’10” Ben Simmons.
It’s not unusual nowadays to see bigger players in the NBA run the offense. With stars like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic as the primary ball handlers in their respective offenses. It’s what the 76ers have done to mix it up (and it’s what they should’ve been doing) that has drastically improved their title odds.
The Sixers have had a very underwhelming season. They were considered early favorites in the East after Kawhi Leonard bolted for the Clippers, and Kyrie Irving left his Boston squad for Brooklyn. The 76ers even signed PF/C Al Horford to a 4 Year/ $109 Million contract, which boosted their frontcourt alongside superstar C Joel Embiid. It turned out to be disastrous as Horford is arguably having the worst year of his career and there’s NO spacing in the lineup at all. They sit at 39-26 which is good for 6th place in the East right now.
Life Inside The Bubble
Insert Operation: Ben Simmons…..Big man? Shake Milton…Starting PG? “The Bubble” in Orlando has been all about experimenting with different lineups and trying out new things, and the Sixers may have found what they’ve been looking for all along. Rolling out a lineup of Milton-Josh Richardson-Tobias Harris-Simmons-Embiid, the Sixers have THRIVED and are dominating opponents in the few scrimmages they’ve had. Since starting at PF, Simmons has scored 23 points, dished out 18 Assists, and has also collected 18 rebounds and 4 steals. He’s done all of this while only having 6 turnovers and being a +30 while on the floor.
This new lineup gives the Sixers exactly what they’ve been looking for all season: SPACE. So this means Joel Embiid won’t have to come out and shoot 28 footers more than he needs to, and he can live in the paint where he’s most dominant. We also won’t be seeing Al Horford doing the same. This is where Shake Milton comes in. Milton, a 3rd-year guard out of SMU is known for his amazing performance back in February against the Clippers, where he dropped 39 points on 14-20 shooting (7-9 from 3) and tied an NBA record for most consecutive 3’s made over a span of games with 13.
With Milton at PG, and having shooters in Josh Richardson and Tobias Harris at the 2 & 3, the 76ers have all the spacing they need. Oh and if that’s not enough, Ben Simmons is shooting 3’s and hitting them. It doesn’t get any scarier than that. He’s averaging 17-8-8 this year without the 3-ball. Now imagine him with it. Teams are going to have to start playing up on him, and now that he’s at the 4? Good luck with your team’s starting PF staying in front of him. The sky is the limit for this new idea from coach Brett Brown, and I’m excited to see how much noise Philly can make in the East.
So You’re Saying There’s a Chance?!
The last 6 seed to make the NBA Finals was the Houston Rockets in ’94-’95. I’m not saying the Sixers will get there, but please don’t sleep on this team. With the crafty playmaking abilities of Ben Simmons (and yes for the 3rd time this article, he’s hitting 3’s now). The sharpshooting of Josh Richardson, and Shake Milton. Tobias Harris’ ability to create his own shot and knock down the 3. Oh, and let’s not forget about the most dominant C in the NBA, Joel Embiid. This 76ers team is locked and loaded and poised to make a deep playoff run.
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