NBA: 8 trends to watch post-All-Star break

NBA Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NBA Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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NBA Philadelphia 76ers
NBA Philadelphia 76ers Al Horford (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers’ Al Horford conundrum

After getting replaced by Furkan Korkmaz in the starting lineup against the LA Clippers, it appears that the Al Horford-moving to the bench experiment is here to stay. This is probably something worth exploring based on the Sixers’ current situation.

They are currently locked up in a very tight battle for positioning in the Eastern Conference, and considering their home/road splits (25-2 at home versus 9-19 on the road), moving ahead of Miami for a top-four seed is of the utmost importance. Horford is currently not having much of an impact on their 19th ranked offense, so perhaps getting another perimeter player on the floor will spark the team. Philadelphia has an abysmal 98.8 Offensive Rating when Ben Simmons, Horford, and Joel Embiid all share the floor.

To me, this comes down to a broader issue that has plagued the team since the 2018 playoffs: coaching. The Sixers were always going to be about talent over fit (In contrast to their rival Milwaukee Bucks). So far, Brett Brown and the coaching staff have been unable to come up with any solutions to make all the moving parts fit together cohesively. When push came to shove in the Raptors series last year, the Sixers stationed Simmons in the dunker’s spot while Jimmy Butler ran the offense. This season the offense has continued to mostly look clunky and stilted.

Generally, playing your five best players is a good thing. This move seems like the easy way out to me. We have seen other spacing-challenged teams succeed on offense recently (the 2018 Timberwolves and 2016 Spurs come to mind). But maybe the Simmons/Embiid pairing is that difficult to build around. We will see if this lineup change pays off. I just cannot envision the Sixers reaching their ceiling without Al Horford playing a major role.