By now you know that the national media hates Philadelphia. They’re out to get us. Everybody but Kyle Brandt.
Add Zach Lowe to the list of measured takers after writing a very good and expansive Sixers column for ESPN today, a thought-out article that puts numerous points of contention into proper context.
You could probably preface any discussion about a rising team by pointing out that most problems are going to be good problems to have. We’re sitting here talking about fitting three superstars together on the court, when most NBA teams do not have anything resembling this kind of top-end talent on the roster. The whole Butler/Simmons/Embiid exercise might be laborious, but I think every good squad navigates something similar at some point.
Seriously, when’s the last time the Sixers had to solve this “problem?” It’s been a long time since the days of surrounding Allen Iverson with anybody and everybody in an attempt to push the squad over the top, but what we got was more of an “Iverson plus seven role players” type of configuration, year-in and year-out. It was Kemba Walker and Russell Westbrook in a different epoch.
The Sixers know Embiid and Simmons are an awkward fit on offense. They know the history of young star duos portends a clash for control. They notice when two stars duck into the post at the same time, almost bumping each other.
They understand stashing Simmons in the dunker spot is an inelegant solution to getting him out of the way while Embiid posts up.
They feel the tension between a fast-break sprinter and a back-it-down bully. “That Ben is one of the three or four fastest players in the league — and that the game can sometimes just run past Joel — is both a blessing and a curse,” Brett Brown says. “Joel needs the ball. This isn’t the 100-meter dash. Ben is getting better at recognizing that.”
That’s the key to me, and one of the problems from the Christmas Day loss in Boston. Ben’s liabilities are in the half court, where he just needs to feel his way through tight fourth quarter situations better than he currently is. It’s on Brett Brown to help a young “point guard” navigate those situations and not run his All-Star center ragged.
More, after the jump: