Personnel a bigger problem than pace for Sixers


Personnel a bigger problem than pace for Sixers

The euphoria that the Sixers experienced when they knocked off the back-to-back champion Miami Heat is long gone. So too are the good feelings after the Sixers followed that up with two more wins to start the season 3-0.

Forget a distant memory. It’s as if those games never even took place.

All of those feelings from earlier in the season have been replaced by despair and wonderment of just how bad things can get for a Sixers club riding a season-high seven-game losing skid. Winning just four of 23 games after that surprising start will do that to a team.

The Sixers’ defense is horrific right now. They are giving up 111.2 points per game, the most in the league by 7.8 points. Their point differential is a league-worst minus-9.6.

Things have somehow taken a turn for the worse in the Sixers’ previous two games when they’ve allowed 269 combined points and an NBA-record for a two-game span of 42 three-pointers.

So how does the situation get any better?

The Sixers must alter their personnel to compete on a nightly basis.

Sure, this roster looked like it was bound for the lottery from the day it was constructed by president/general manager Sam Hinkie. However, the team is failing to even be competitive now on a nightly basis.

Part of that can be pinned on head coach Brett Brown’s break-neck pace. The idea that the Sixers could outrun other teams with their strong fitness level has been proven wrong. Not to say that being in the kind of shape that Brown has demands is not important. It certainly is, but the Sixers are not going to outscore opponents.

However, the bigger issue is simply the team’s lack of capable defenders. With Nerlens Noel sidelined, the Sixers need to invest in some wing defenders to help prevent the free passes to the basket and wide-open jumpers that have become all too familiar so far this season.

Michael Carter-Williams’ return to the court will help because he uses his length to get in passing lanes and does a decent job keeping his man in front of him.

Still, the point guard’s return from a skin infection on his knee is still unclear and it would be unwise to view the rookie as some sort of savior for such a big problem.

Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes are all players that could bring the Sixers a quality defensive name in any sort of trade. Not necessarily an All-Star or someone who will salvage this season, but a player or package of guys that can simply change the dynamic defensively.

Brown says he knew what he signed up for when he became coach of this rebuilding project.

But even he couldn’t have envisioned a team so lacking on the defensive end that it would be setting records for all the wrong reasons.

Source: Sixers to waive Brandon Paul as roster deadline nears

Source: Sixers to waive Brandon Paul as roster deadline nears

The Sixers, who have an afternoon of cuts to make in order to get the regular season roster down to 15 before 5 p.m. on Monday, will waive guard Brandon Paul, according to a source.

Jake Fischer first reported the news. Paul has received interest from other NBA teams, per the source, and has not yet had talks about the D-League. 

Paul, 25, appeared in four preseason games for the Sixers. He averaged 7.3 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three.

Paul recently shared with his challenges to pursue an NBA career.

The Sixers' roster stood at 20 after they signed Temple alum Dionte Christmas.

Cat Barber, Shawn Long and James Webb III also are expected to be waived and spend time in the Development League. Elton Brand announced his retirement and was waived last week. 

Sixers 'all over the place' different without Ben Simmons

Sixers 'all over the place' different without Ben Simmons

CAMDEN, N.J. — It has been over three weeks since Ben Simmons suffered an acute Jones fracture in his right foot during the final scrimmage of training camp. The Sixers had constructed schemes around the rookie point-forward and watched unconventional lineups play out at Stockton University.

Those “can’t-wait-to-see” situations have been delayed to “wait-and-see” as Simmons recovers.

“Where do you begin?” Brett Brown said after practice Sunday. “I could talk for three days on what’s different without Ben Simmons. It’s all-over-the-place different. The core values of how you want to do different things there remain the same, but the whole landscape changed.”

This week was supposed to be the debut of a new-look system featuring a player who could influence the game with his versatility and athleticism. Brown even had experimented with pairing Simmons and Dario Saric at the two and three positions. Instead, the Sixers once again will start a regular season shorthanded by injuries.

Simmons was projected to start at power forward and also handle point responsibilities. His multitasking lessened the need for the Sixers to find a standout point guard this summer. They signed veteran Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, who is returning to the NBA for his second stint.

Bayless was expected to start, with the intention of Simmons running the floor at times. Now, neither can play. Bayless has been sidelined by a ligament injury in his left wrist. The Sixers announced on Friday that Bayless will have a non-surgical rehab and will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Brown on Sunday was undecided on whether Rodriguez or second-year point guard T.J. McConnell would start at the one on opening night.

“He was going to be one of the primary ballhandlers,” Brown said of Simmons. “And with that, floor spots and spacing and how you actually set this thing up changes dramatically.”

The players also have noticed a change without Simmons in the backcourt. Joel Embiid, playing his first season after missing the past two with foot injuries, found himself struggling with his shot selection early on in the preseason. He got glimpses in camp of how Simmons could improve that.

“He’s such a big presence and he’s really important to us,” Embiid said. “He just makes plays. I’ve been rushing shots and that’s where it comes in play. Someone like him can help me get better shots because he can get me easy baskets.”

Simmons’ absence also fast-forwarded Saric’s transition in his first NBA season. The injuries to Simmons and Jahlil Okafor (right knee) have pushed Saric into the starting power forward role during the preseason. The rookie has been learning on the go in a new league.

“He has been thrown into the fire,” Brown said of Saric last week (see story).

Simmons recently went through a two-week, post-operative exam and had sutures removed. He is working on day-to-day rehab with the Sixers' staff while also spending time talking with Brown. The team is implementing a multi-faceted recovery program of education, health and shot improvement.

This includes meeting with Brown to break down his game — where it is now and where it can develop in the future. Brown wants to make sure Simmons knows the ins and outs of the system so he is best prepared to begin his rookie season once cleared to play.

“I think that part of my excitement is I get with Ben every day while we’re here and go into my office for half-an-hour and it’s like basketball-NBA 101,” Brown said.

That’s one aspect of Simmons’ injury for which Brown can prepare.