By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
When Daryl Morey took the position of president of basketball operations for the Sixers, one thing he preached was finding pieces to better complement Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Fast forward to a week before training camp and he has done just that.
After multiple signings and trades, there is a night and day difference in the Sixers roster. Gone are the days of improper floor spacing as Doc Rivers will now have a plethora of shooters to choose from to put on the floor. The fit of talent around Embiid and Simmons has drastically improved since their playoff exit in the bubble.
With better fitting players around them, this has to beg the question of what kind of jump Embiid and/or Simmons will make this season. One jump we could see this season is in Ben Simmons’ playmaking. The last time he had multiple options on the perimeter like this, he had his best numbers assist-wise.
The 2017-2018 Sixers’ roster can draw some comparisons to the current roster. That roster was similarly filled with a lot of length and outside shooting. Simmons thrived as a playmaker that season, averaging 8.2 APG and totaling a career-high 661 assists.
Sixers’ 3PM leaders 2017-2018 Current Sixers 3PM 2019-2020
1) Robert Covington: 203 1) Seth Curry: 145
2) JJ Redick: 193 2) Furkan Korkmaz: 143
3) Dario Saric: 157 3) Tobias Harris: 131
4) Marco Belinelli: 149 4) Danny Green: 120
The suspension last season hurts these numbers compared to the ‘17-’18 season, but it’s clear that Simmons is going to have a plethora of shooting around him again. Along with the players listed, the Sixers also have Shake Milton who shot 43% from deep, and Isaiah Joe who was a lights-out shooter in college.
With all this shooting surrounding him, Simmons is fully equipped to put on a playmaking showcase this season. Since arriving in the NBA one thing Simmons has done at an elite level is create three-point shots for his teammates.
Last season Simmons was at the top of the NBA in assists off three-points on a poor three-point shooting Sixers’ team. He will now be surrounded by Danny Green and Seth Curry who is second all-time in three-point percentage.
Critics have been on Simmons for not showing much growth in his game, but he should silence those doubters this season. Between a better fitting supporting cast and some time playing as a point forward last season, there is a strong chance we see a new level to Simmons’ game.
Simmons was tied for fifth in the NBA in assists per game last year with eight, and it would be far from shocking if that number made a nice jump. The most APG he has averaged in a season is 8.2, but in a more up-tempo offense and this shooting core around Simmons might flirt with double-digits this season. Out of all the Sixers who should benefit most from the team’s new look, Simmons’ name is at the top.