Category Archives: Sixers

Sixers Lore: The Argument for Jamal Crawford

Sixers fans have been buzzing a bit over whether the Sixers should sign veteran guard Jamal Crawford for a one year min deal. Ok. The bad news first. Crawford is 38, and last year was perhaps the worst defensive player in the league. Hmmm … that does get your attention.

So why would the Sixers bring Crawford on board? This article by Matty Breisch gets into it. Check it out. Here are the main points

  • Crawford can still score 10 to 15 from the outside  – unlike many of the second squad players the Sixers will put on the floor
  • Crawford can mentor Markelle Fultz, who need mentoring to get into the NBA mindset (and the two know each other from a Washington connection)
  • Crawford wants to come over and will accept whatever role Brett Brown gives him.
  • Crawford’s invisible defense can be covered a bit by the rest of the second squad.
  • The Sixers need to get Jerryd Bayless off the roster anyway

May take — The main argument goes to second team scoring. The Sixers will try to get some points out of TJ, Furkan, and their rookies Landry Shamet and Shake Milton. And it may be that Jonah Bolden finds his corner 3 shot. But no question, Crawford would be a scoring threat. And he could help Markelle.

Hmmm …. I get the arguments. But I am not thrilled about watching him on the defensive end. And let’s face it, at 38 his offensive may not be as hot as it was last year. So put me in the skeptics camp on this one.

What do you think?

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The Embiid/Horford Saga. Let the Games Begin!

It is that silly time for NBA fans where nothing is happening. So time to think about what is going to happen next season! One thing we are likely to see is a battle between Sixer big, Joel Embiid and Celtic big, Al Horford

Without a doubt, Boston and Philadelphia will be doing battle all season long as two of the main contenders in the Eastern Conference. The matchup of these two All-Star centers, one fighting Father Time and one finding the upper limits of his own potential, is just one of the many intriguing subplots to watch this season. Whatever side you personally land on, it’s good to have this rivalry back in our lives.

Who will prevail? Who is the better player?

In a way, it is not a fair set of questions. Prevailing depends a lot on what either big can get from the other dudes on the floor. NBA games are not one on one contests. And when you get to questions about “who is better” you need to define what you mean. Better in a single game or series? Better season? Better career? Better at one or another skills set?

Keeping all that in mind, here is a fun post by Liberty Ballers that compares Embiid and Horford. I agree with it. It is easy to underestimate Al Horford’s contribution to the Celtics. He is peaking now.  And it is equally true that Embiid is still a  babe int he woods in NBA land. We cannot know yet where his ceiling is. So we know what we are likely to get from Horford next season. And from Embiid? Who knows?

Onward!

Once again, Sixers’ First Round Pick is Injured

First there was third overall pick Joel Embiid who had to have 2 foot surgeries, and missed a full season. The next year, first overall pick Ben Simmons suffered a Jones fracture on his ankle on the last day of training camp and missed a full season. Then first overall pick Markelle Fultz suffered a shoulder injury that morphed into the “yips” that ruined his outside shot, and Fultz missed most of last season.  He still has not returned to form, though there is hope for the next season.

Now this summer, first round pick Zhaire Smith has suffered a Jones fracture that requires surgery. No word yet on how long Smith will be out. We know from the Simmons experience that it might mean missing the entire season.

Is there a curse on this team or what?

Embiid Conquers the World … Almost!

With all of the off.-season jabber about LeBron, Kawhi, PG, and then Markelle, and the rest, there has been relatively little focus on one of the main pillars of the Sixer future – Joel Embiid.

Two things are worth noting. First, this is the first off-season that Embiid has had free of injury. In other words, he is free to work on his game. Second, he IS working on his game with the same super coach that Markelle is using  Drew Hamlin.

So how is it going? We got a peek at Joel playing in Africa, and he was sizzling. Even with Joel, Team Africa could not overcome Team World, but they came close.

Here is a short video of Joel’s new handle. Awesome!

Joel said that he doesn’t care whether the Sixers landed LeBron or Kawhi. He wants to the better than either – we are talking MVP. Can he do that? Let’s put it this way. If Joel stays healthy and has support on the offensive side of the floor, he can do just about anything on the basketball court.

So …. with Joel upgraded, Ben upgraded, and Markelle back in form, the Sixers are already a far better team than they were last year.

Stay tuned!

Is There Room for True Grit in the Sixers’ Future?

Sixer fans know what I am talking about. True grit on the Sixers is embodied by one player – TJ McConnell. McConnell came into the league undrafted. We repeatedly heard that he has limited physical assets, that he has no great outside shot, and that he is too slow to be a great defender. All of this, BTW, was true. TJ is small, and slow. He did not have a great outside shot. He was a defensive liability.

So what. Each year, TJ has improved his game. He is a smarter playmaker, a better defender and a better shooter. And he is a powerful influence on the team — because he is insanely competitive. The kind of player that wildly talented players need around to remind them that the game is more than a glamour contest.

So what is TJ’s future with the Sixers? A lot depends on this year. TJ is in his last year of his contract, and the Sixers may or may not sign him again. If he has a great year, he may be a very expensive 3rd point guard. And my prediction is that TJ will have a very good year.

I vote that the Sixers keep TJ around even in this scenario. Why? Because I believe that there are certain intangible qualities to a winning team. And TJ embodies those intangibles.

What do you think?

Sixers v. Celtics: Who Wins?

We are in that silly period of the NBA calendar when nothing is happening. So while we wait for camp to open and then the pre-season to get going, it is time to make predictions.

In the coming season, Kawhi will get a ton of attention with the Raptors. It might even be worth watching a game or two. But for my money, this is NOT going to be where the action is in the East. I may have to eat my words at the end of the season, but I think the main event in the east will be the Sixers/Celtics rivalry.

What is wrong with the Raptors? I have two main criticisms. First, I do not think that Kawhi is as good as he has been built up to be. He is a solid wing and a good shooter and defender. But he has not proven that he can carry a team. And the Raptors will need that. Second, the rest of the Raptors are ok, but not outstanding and there are “fit” questions. That is backed up by computer projections of team quality.

Let’s assume for a moment that I am right. Who wins the Sixers/Celtics rematch? It is really, really close.

The Celtics get back Hayward and Irving, which is big for them. And the rest of the team is about the same as the Celtics team that surprised the Sixers in the playoffs last year. Yes, yes, I was overconfident and predicted the Sixers would win that series. In my defense, the games at least, were close.

But the Sixers have 3 things in their favor. Fist, their players are younger and overall they have a higher ceiling than the Celtics do. That would include Ben, Joel, RoCo, and Dario — all starters. And Markelle will be back. bringing with him a ceiling that no one yet can predict. I am betting that the Sixers will grow faster than the Celtics do.

Second, the Sixers have the chance to be stellar on defense. Hmmm … weren’t the Celtics the league’s best defensive unit last year? Yes. But the Sixers were very good as well. And they are coming back with 2 new defensive studs -. Markelle and Zhaire Smith. Neither Kyrie nor Gordon are gong to add that kind of defense to the Celtics.

Finally, there is the experience factor. The Sixers were the better team last year, but they lacked to experience to figure out how to deal with the Celtics game plan. They have experienced that now. And they will have the firepower to overcome the Celtics highly athletic wings with better floor spacing and movement.

You can take my word for it. Or you can read up on how CARMELO ranks the players and teams. Hint – the Sixers come out slightly ahead.

Three issues worth watching when the Sixers start the season

  • the first is obvious – Is Markelle really back? If he is, the season will be a gas from day 1. If not, expect a lot of hand wringing, wailing and gnashing of teeth!
  • the second is almost as obvious – Have Ben and Joel been working on their games over the summer? That means Ben occasionally hitting a 3 to stretch the defense. And it means Ben finishing with his right hand. And it means Joel keeping his turnovers down.
  • the third is getting into the nitty gritty –  the role players – Has JJ lost a step? Can Dario get better position inside? Will Wilson Chandler replace Ersan? Will Zhaire Smith demonstrate that the trade was worth it?

We shall see, said the blind man! And I can’t wait!