The Sixers were expected to take the East by storm and possibly be the favorites in the conference coming into the season. After all, they have two superstar talents in Embiid and Simmons and even added very good players in Al Horford and Josh Richardson. Tobias Harris is still there as the third star of the team, and the head coach still preaches the same system.
This continuity and key additions should have made the Sixers look like a real contender against the likes of the Lakers and Clippers. But they have revealed some very important chinks in their armor so far this season.
As good as they have played recently (8-2 over the last 10 games), the Sixers most likely will not be playing in the NBA Finals. And here is why.
Loss of Jimmy Butler
Perhaps most important of all, the Sixers lost Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat in Free Agency. Butler has transformed the Heat with his work ethic and passion for the game, while the Sixers have not replaced him with a guy who can lock down the opposing team’s best player and drop 20 on the other end.
Most times during last year’s playoffs, Butler was by far their best player and played the hardest every night. Even if Richardson and Horford can provide some nice addition, Butler was simply a massive loss. There are very few players in the NBA who could replicate Butler’s two-way play, and the Sixers had him and lost him this season.
Joel Embiid Inconsistency
Embiid might be the best big man in the league since he possesses all the skills to score and lockdown the paint. But he has been inconsistent this season. His shooting has wavered, and he even went scoreless in a recent game. He was blasted by fans all across social media, with many claiming that he must focus his efforts on the court and less with his mouth.
Embiid is still a deadly threat from the inside and outside, but his inconsistencies have been quite alarming. Not to mention, Embiid is very inconsistent with his health too. It is unlikely that Embiid will remain healthy all through the playoffs, which effectively minimizes almost all chance that the Sixers play in the Finals.
Ben Simmons Still Can’t Shoot
We finally saw Simmons nail a three-pointer early on this year, but that was certainly not enough evidence that Simmons is at least an average shooter. Simmons still cannot be relied upon to make jumpers consistently, and this will greatly hinder the Sixer’s chances of reaching the Finals.
Often times, the paint will get clogged up and Simmons will be forced to take shots from the perimeter. If he struggles once again this postseason, which is highly likely, the Sixers are at a distinct disadvantage when playing the best teams in the NBA including the Bucks, Lakers, and Clippers. Even though Simmons is a better shooter than last year, he is still a liability from the perimeter.
Lack Of Depth And Shooting
Finally, the Sixers will not have enough depth and shooting to make it to the Finals. Perhaps most notably, losing J.J. Redick was a disaster for the Sixers. He was an unbelievable shooter from the perimeter and often made up for the poor shooting by Simmons. Running J.J. off screens was a main play in the playbook, and now he resides in the other conference. He was a guy who could heat up and drain shots, but the Sixers have not replaced him with anybody in a very shooter-prominent league.
Not to mention, the Sixers do not have enough depth. Outside of their starting lineup, only Korkmaz has shown the ability to produce semi-consistently. The Sixers are very thin on the bench, and thus will mean greater workload on their star players including Tobias Harris who might not have the capability of a second scoring option for a championship team. This lack of depth will come back to haunt them on their road to the Finals.