Philadelphia 76ers: What's the Biggest On-Court Concern?
To say the Philadelphia 76ers 2019-2020 season was dramatic before the NBA suspended action would be an understatement. For some reason, this Sixers team has been the talk of the league for many purposes throughout the year.
Whether it was about Brett Brown's status as the head coach, Al Horford's frustrations with his fit on the team, or Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid's alleged rocky relationship, the 76ers were merely of interest to the national media, for better or for worse.
Part of it came from the fact that the 76ers were unquestionably underperforming throughout two-thirds of the season. They were a team that was being hyped up as a potential No. 1 contender for the Milwaukee Bucks, but they currently reside in the sixth-seed of the Eastern Conference Playoff picture.
There are several reasons as to why the Sixers didn't meet expectations in 2019-2020. As we sit here in suspension, though, what is the Sixers' biggest concern at this very moment? Bleacher Report's Dan Favale briefly dove into it recently.
An analysis from B/R:
"Embiid and Simmons are not the cleanest fit, but they are not the root cause of a clunky offense. Philly exacerbated the half-court congestion by investing in a supporting cast that wants for off-ball floor spacers who can score in motion."
"Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Josh Richardson can all shoot, but they're not knockdown snipers. Harris is more comfortable on-ball. Horford is an imperfect fit within an offense that doesn't run out four floor spacers or use the pick-and-pop as a crutch. Richardson has never been the guy to fire up jumpers coming off screens."
Now, what do we say?
It's easy to say Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid do not mesh well. While there were some stints where they didn't coexist well throughout the year, they were finally getting their act together when they were both healthy (see the win over the Clippers before All-Star break, for example). Another easy excuse is pointing fingers at the coach, Brett Brown.
Do I believe Brown is an issue for the Sixers? You bet. At the same time, though, Brown doesn't take shots for his players -- especially on the road. Consistency is a problem for the Sixers team -- and it starts on offense.
We all know this year's Sixers have focused a ton on defense, but as long as shots aren't falling on offense, the defensive side of the ball takes a hit too. This team needs players who can consistently score on the road if the current roster cannot get it together. Or maybe they have them, and we just didn't see it.
Out of all of the playoff teams in the NBA, the Sixers have a league's worst 10-24 record when playing on the road. Ironically, they are the NBA's best at home with a record of 29-2. The way the Sixers play on the road is easily their biggest concern -- and it's not just about shooting. It's about decision-making, coaching, and defense as well.
To be frank, I don't believe the Sixers will be able to fix their concerns this season if the league resumes. This is something that would require a change in coaching and an offseason to fix. As nobody within the Sixers' organization could pinpoint the cause of the road issues throughout the year, it just raises a simple question: What if the Sixers had somebody different running the team? Would they be more mentally fit to take on the competition on the road? Would they look more motivated?
There are so many questions that we won't know the answer to until we see the significant change happen. Maybe in 2021, it'll happen. For now, though, the concerns will be right there when if/when the season gets back in action.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_