This is part of an eight part series examining the NBA’s top title contenders. Competition is tough this year as the West has five real threats and the East has three. Out West the Jazz, Suns, Nuggets, Clippers, and Lakers. In the East the 76ers, Nets, and Bucks.
Why They Will
In Daryl Morey’s first season as General Manager and Doc Rivers first as Head Coach this team looks like an actual title winner. It all starts obviously with Joel Embiid. Embiid is averaging 28.8 ppg along with 10.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and shooting 51.5% from the field overall and 37.3% from three. He’s also 4th in defensive rating at 104.0 and 2nd in player efficiency rating at 30.6 which is incredibly high. Ben Simmons is their other all-star and is averaging 14.3 ppg, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists. Simmons is also 6th in defensive rating at 106.1. Danny Green is 12th at 107.5 and Tobias Harris is 15th at 108.1 in defensive rating giving them two more key starters who are very good individual defenders.
They’re the only team with four starters in the top twenty of defensive rating. This would explain why they’re 3rd in points per 100 possessions defensively at 108.2 with 112.8 being the league average. The 76ers defense is also 3rd in effective field goal percentage at 52.6% and creating turnovers at the 3rd highest rate at 15.3%. On offense the 76ers are 13th in points per 100 possessions at 113.2 and are 15th in effective field goal rate at 54.2%. Being 8th in offensive rebound percentage at 26.7% is big for them as it gives them second chance opportunities which are even more important for a non elite offensive team. This team can play the defense to keep themselves in any series and this offense should be good enough as a complement to get the job done.
Why They Won’t
Six of the eight teams in this series are in the top 7 of offensive points per 100 possessions scoring at least 4.2 points more per 100 and five of those six teams are also top 11 defensively in points per 100 possessions. Six of them are also in the top 8 of team three point percentage while Philly is 13th and they are 25th in team three point attempt rate – the lowest of any team in this series.
The offense is too dependent on Joel Embiid and held back by Ben Simmons’ allergies to three pointers or being a star scorer in general. Sure Simmons shoots 55.7% from the field but he only attempts 10.1 shots per game. That’s not at all ideal offensive output from one of your star players. This is a team that will meet their end against an opponent that makes their threes and forces Philly’s offense to have to keep up over seven games.
All stats are from Cleaning the Glass and Basketball Reference