Following this past season, it is safe to say that the Philadelphia 76ers need to progress in multiple facets of the game. These problems will not be solved overnight, but they need to start addressing all of these issues this offseason. There are five particular areas that the Sixers need to improve on for next season.
1. Taking Care of the Basketball
The Sixers led the entire league this past season in turnovers per game with 16.4. The Sixers fast pace style of play is partially the reason they turn the ball over so frequently, but this is no excuse. Michael Carter-Williams is the catalyst on offense as he makes a majority of the decisions. Even though he played well, he was a big reason as to why the Sixers led the league in turnovers as he averaged 3.5 a game. This is expected coming from a rookie guard, but he needs to work on taking better care of the ball for next season. The point guard is perhaps the most important part of the team, so he needs to know the value of each possession. If he can keep playing at the pace he does and make better decisions with the ball, he will continue to grow into the point guard the Sixers hoped for.
2. Three-Point Shooting
When it comes to three-point shooting, the Sixers need plenty of help. The Sixers shot only 31.2% from behind the arc this season, which was good for last in the NBA. They have made it clear that three pointers are a big part of their offense as they averaged about 22.5 attempts per game. To shoot this many threes a night, and to be as bad as they were at it is a red flag. Part of the reason they shot so poorly is because the guys taking the shots were not NBA ready players. The Sixers need to utilize the draft as well as free agency and find some more consistent long-range shooters to help improve these numbers.
3. Perimeter Defense
Let’s be clear that the Sixers need to get better everywhere on defense, but they should start by defending the perimeter. The Sixers allowed 109.9 points per game, and a good portion of these points came from three pointers. On average, they gave up nine threes a game and about 25 attempts. When the opponent is shooting this many threes, it typically means most of their shot attempts are wide open. The Sixers guards as well as forwards need to recognize who the shooters are and find them quickly. Brett Brown preached to his team all year about defending the three, but the message appeared to never reach them. If the Sixers want to have more success this upcoming season, they need to focus on defense first. No matter how good an offense is, a team will never have a winning record when they give up nearly 110 points a night.
4. Bench Play
It is hard to say that the bench needs to improve when the starters could not do much either, but in reality, they need more depth. The Sixers bench production was towards the bottom of the league as they averaged about 29.4 points per game. When Coach Brown took out the starters and put in his reserves, the other teams feasted on them. In all fairness, the Sixers bench players were clearly not ready for the NBA as many of them were playing in their first ever games. They need to add some pieces to come off the sideline and provide a spark on offense and defense. Five starters can only do so much, so they need to find some better players who will fit in while having the backup role.
5. Veteran Leadership
The Sixers really lacked a veteran leader this year, as it showed during many moments of the season. Other than Jason Richardson who missed the entire year due to an injury, the longest tenured Sixer is Thaddeus Young. He did a decent job in the leadership position, but Young is a young player as well, at 25 years of age. Having that veteran presence is vital for an undeveloped team as they can impart knowledge of the NBA game and set an example in terms of work ethic and game preparation. That veteran player needs to be there if a young player gets down on themselves and help them work through issues. The Sixers have plenty of cap room, so they need to use some of that money and sign an older player who has plenty of NBA experience. Even though that player may not have what it takes to be a game changer, he can help the younger guys grow and develop into solid NBA players.
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