With an offseason full of high expectations in anticipation of the upcoming season, the 2019-20 Philadelphia 76ers haven’t exactly lived up to the hype 13 games in. Despite the departure of All-Star Jimmy Butler, who went to Miami in a sign-and-trade, high hopes remained as the Sixers received swingman Josh Richardson from the Heat, who is known for his versatility and defense. The biggest offseason addition for the 76ers was 33-year-old Al Horford, who signed a four-year $109 million contract with $97 million guaranteed. The five-time All-Star spent the past three seasons with the Rival Boston Celtics.
Another aspect of the offseason was the hype surrounding Ben Simmons, as he was rewarded with a five-year $170 million maximum extension. The only aspect of Simmons’ game that has been missing the past two seasons is an established jump shot. The offseason brought fans hope that this would be the season Simmons started taking jumpers, including three-pointers, because there were multiple workout videos posted throughout the summer showing Simmons nailing three-pointers in pickup games.
Fans went ecstatic when, in the second quarter of an exhibition game against the Guangzhou Long Lions, Simmons hit a three-pointer. While it was only a preseason game, fans hoped this was the start of an era where Simmons was going to elevate his game and start hitting threes. In the 13 games the Sixers have played this season, Simmons has yet to attempt a three and, at times, has looked like he’s not even attempting to score, immediately looking to pass. While 8-5 is not a bad record, it’s not the record that fans — and, quite frankly, everybody in the NBA — expected. The legendary Stephen A. Smith went as far to say in a Sept. 20 tweet that “The Philadelphia 76ers are going to the NBA Finals.”
Another disappointment so far this season has been Tobias Harris, who the Sixers decided to re-sign this summer on a five-year $180 million contract. Early on, Harris has been very inconsistent, having games where he catches on fire and looks like a $180 million player, but then also having games like one on Nov. 12 against Cleveland, where he shot a dreadful 4-17. On the season, Harris is averaging 17.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. While the numbers look good on paper, take into account that he’s shooting 25 percent from three-point range, way down from his career average of 36 percent. When he’s been on the court, Joelle Embiid has looked like his usual self, averaging 22.9 points,11.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. The problem is that Embiid has only played in nine of the teams 13 games, and when he’s not on the floor, the Sixers look like a different team. Despite some of the problems that the Sixers have with their core group of players, the main issue the team has is its lack of three-point shooting. As a team, the Sixers have shot 34 percent from three, which ranks 21st in the NBA. If the Sixers want to go far in the playoffs, they are going to have to make a trade for a three-point shooter or hope that as the season progresses, the team will start hitting three-pointers more consistently.
The 76ers are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference. If they want to make a deep run come playoff time, it will help to have a higher seed. The Sixers will look to move up the Eastern Conference on Wednesday as they host the New York Knicks.