What a week! The Sixers defeated the Pacers for their first road win. They followed that up with a mixed performance against the Hornets to gut out an overtime victory. However, on Saturday all hell broke loose. The Sixers shipped out RoCo, Dario, Bayless and a future second-round pick for Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton. With a thin rotation, Philly went on to lose to the Grizzlies later that night. Surely, this is an exciting time for the Sixers. They cashed in several chips this weekend. The Process is officially over and it’s time to contend for a title. Let’s take stock in the top Sixers to this point:
1. Joel Embiid: 27 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks (season average)
Embiid continues to have fun and dominate. His 42 point, 18 rebound, 4 block performance against the Hornets was MVP-like and he appears to have taken his game to another level. Embiid is currently 6th in the league in usage percentage at 31%. It will be interesting to see how drastically that changes with the addition of Jimmy Butler.
2. Ben Simmons: 15 points, 10 rebounds, 8 asissts
Simmons has been rock steady for the Sixers. He shot 60% from the field last week while averaging double-digit rebounds. Adding Butler to the mix should only benefit a player like Simmons. Ben should be able to slide into the third scorer role and focus on creating better looks for his teammates.
3. Jimmy Butler: 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals
If Jimmy Butler is your third best player, you are in pretty good shape. Butler should not only bring a whole new dynamic to the offense, he should step right in on defense and fill the void left behind by Robert Covington. Let’s not forget that Butler was named to the All-Defensive 2nd Team each of the last four seasons.
4. J.J. Redick: 17 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 35% 3PT, 94% FT
Redick has been in a mini-slump from deep over the last few games however he continues to be a crucial member of the Sixers rotation. He is a constant threat on the perimeter and has a knack for hitting big shots when the Sixers need them the most. I expect Redick’s three-point percentage to bounce back in a big way over the next few weeks.
5. Markelle Fultz: 9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 42% FG, 31% 3PT
It’s still a struggle for Fultz. We see flashes of the top pick potential. However, he is not consistent enough to run with the starters when the game gets tight. With Butler onboard, a move to the bench may be best for Fultz. He should be able to build some confidence playing against second units and then the team can re-evaluate the lineup once he fits better with the core.
Best of the Rest:
6. Mike Muscala: 7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Muscala was playing really well before breaking his nose in practice. He provides floor spacing next to Embiid and fills a similar role to Ersan Ilyasova’s role last year. With Saric out of the picture, his absence will definitely be felt in the short term.
7. Landry Shamet: 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 33% 3PT
Shamet hasn’t filled up the box score but is a key member of the 2nd unit. He saw 43 minutes of action on Saturday after the trade and will probably see a spike in minutes as the Sixers flush out their new rotation.
8. T.J. McConnell: 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assist
McConnell hasn’t gotten much run recently as Brown has leaned on Simmons, Fultz, Shamet, and Redick at the guard spots. He reminded Sixers fans what he brings to the table against the Grizzlies on Saturday. McConnell controlled the pace in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 7 assists. He is also automatic this season with his pull up mid-range jump shot. T.J. is shooting 65% on shots 5-14 feet from the basket. It should be interesting to watch how the Sixers use all of their guards moving forward.