Philadelphia 76ers: Why they are failing expectations

NBA Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
NBA Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers have the potential to be a championship team but there are a few things stopping them from reaching their potential

The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the hardest teams in the league to figure out. On a nightly basis, we don’t know which team will show up and that is a genuine concern. When they are clicking, I doubt there is a team in the league that wants to see them in a seven-game series.

The way they lock in on defense, dominate the interior and getting easy baskets, it is a scary sight if you’re on the floor with them at their peak. The problem is, they don’t do that on a consistent basis and there are a few reasons as to why they aren’t nearly as good as they should be so far this season.

The first thing would have to be how dreadful they are on the road. Out of the 16 teams currently holding a playoff spot that is over .500, (not including the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets), they have the worst road record by far at 9-19.

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To their credit, they have the best home record in the NBA but this goes back to their problem with being consistent. As great as they are at home, they are that bad on the road, especially for the talent they have.

At home, they’ve beaten almost everyone including the Milwaukee Bucks, both LA teams, the Boston Celtics, and other top teams around the league. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons assert themselves early and we get a glimpse of how dangerous the two of them can be. Yet, when they go on the road they don’t show the same sense of urgency which is a serious concern come playoff time.

They’ll need to win on the road, especially in the playoffs if they want to make a deep run and so far this season, they haven’t shown the ability to consistently win on the road. All great teams need to be able to go on the road and win games and the 76ers have shown an inability to do that.

Another problem, which may be the biggest problem this team has, is the dynamic between Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Both players have their flaws but they have all the potential in the world. There are constant rumblings about whether one of the two young stars is going to be traded but Elton Brand, general manager of the 76ers, has yet to entertain any real trade rumors.

Ben Simmons still can’t shoot which is a major concern, especially come playoff time. He is still talented enough to be productive and fill up the stat sheet. He has also become an all-world defender this season, only further adding to his repertoire but his lack of perimeter presence makes it easier for teams to guard him in the playoffs.

Joel Embiid is probably the most talented big man in the league and it might not be close. A player of his size and stature with the agility and overall skill set that he possesses is ridiculous and yet, he is the biggest problem in my eyes. Having all of this talent is great but there are real concerns about Joel Embiid and his health.

This has been a problem for him since his time at Kansas and has plagued him since he’s been in the league. After not playing his first two full seasons in the NBA, since then he has played 197 regular-season games out of a possible 328. He has missed 40 percent of his games in the NBA and that is not including the first two seasons in which he didn’t play at all.

Embiid might also have a problem with weight and stamina. He constantly looks tired and a lot of that has to do with him not being in shape. We see spurts in games where Joel Embiid absolutely dominates the interior and there is no one in the league that can stop him. He follows that up with hanging around the 3-point line and taking ill-advised 3’s. He is not a terrible shooter and it is a good thing that a big man in today’s NBA can stretch the floor but he is at his best when he is dominating the interior, which he does not do consistently.

It is not entirely his fault because Ben Simmons needs the paint to be effective as well, only adding to the dynamic between the two young stars. There are certain games, like the games at home where they impose their will, using that size and length, but it just doesn’t seem to work on a consistent basis.

While players do have their flaws, when a choice needs to be made, I’d build my team around Ben Simmons and that’s something the 76ers should really entertain if they can’t win with these two together. Embiid can’t stay healthy and doesn’t make his teammates better the way Simmons does. The NBA is now a shooter’s league, and though Simmons can’t shoot, he can get shooters open with his playstyle, which is why the 76ers should consider trading Embiid to surround Simmons with more perimeter talent in a shooters league.

If the 76ers do want to keep this core together and want to take the next step, they have to try mixing it up with another head coach. Brett Brown can only do so much, watching from the sideline but it doesn’t seem to me that he has players take accountability. He lets the players do whatever they want and with such a young nucleus, they need a coach who is going to call them out in order to help them improve.

Brett Brown should have been urging Ben Simmons to at least attempt jumpers but yet, he doesn’t do that. He should urge Joel Embiid to stay in game shape and dominate the way he knows how but yet, he doesn’t. Now, who knows how it is behind closed doors but even if there was some coaching going on, it is clearly not doing the trick. Maybe players have grown tired of Brett Brown and a new presence would kickstart the players and have them take the next step to become greater.

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The Philadelphia 76ers have their flaws, like every other team in the NBA, but whether to they want to fix them or not, is in their control.