By Teddy Brenner
The Sixers go to training camp in Camden on Sept.28, 25 days from now, and Ben Simmons is still in town.
Their starting lineup was dominant last season, but lost Danny Green (they scored an otherworldly 132.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor in the playoffs) in the first few minutes of Game 3 of the conference semis.
In the regular season, the Sixers outscored their opponents by 15.5 points per 100 possessions with Simmons and Embiid both on the floor. That was the fifth best mark among 154 two-man combinations that played at least 1,000 minutes together.
Continued development from Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle, along with additional shooting from newbie Georges Niang (42.6% on catch-and-shoot 3s over the last two seasons) could give the offense a boost. Embiid’s ability to deal with double-teams has improved, but he can still get better in that regard. He and Drummond were two of three high-usage players with assist/turnover ratios below 1.00.
But can the Sixers really put the end to last season behind them if no trade is made between now and Sept. 28?
Can Simmons block out the noise until his situation is settled? This team remains fascinating, with both a high ceiling and a low floor (given the talent).
2020-21 record: 49-23
Pace: 100.1 (12), OffRtg: 112.5 (13), DefRtg: 107.0 (2), NetRtg: +5.5 (5)
Key addition(s): Georges Niang, Andre Drummond
Key departure(s): George Hill, Dwight Howard
In the playoffs, the Sixers’ starting lineup — Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid — outscored its opponents by 39.0 points per 100 possessions, the best mark among 22 lineups that played at least 50 postseason minutes.
In the regular season, the Sixers were 25-9 (.735) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes, the 10th best “clutch” winning percentage in the 25 years for which we have play-by-play data. In the playoffs, they were 2-5, scoring just 47 points on 54 clutch possessions (87.0 per 100).
Embiid led the league in usage rate, using 35.2% of the Sixers’ possessions (via field goal attempts, turnovers or trips to the line) while he was on the floor. He drew 8.5 fouls per 36 minutes, most among 404 players who played at least 300 minutes.