Each week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.
Running the Give and Go are NBC Sports Philadelphia anchor/reporter Marshall Harris and NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producers/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.
This week, we'll take a look at whether Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons is the Sixers’ top offensive option.
The Sixers’ No. 1 offensive option heading into the season was a no-doubt easy answer of Embiid. But nine games into this season (OK, maybe it didn't take that many), that answer has changed. Kinda. Sorta.
Simmons is the new answer to that question, in large part because it's a trick answer. Simmons only needs to have the ball in his hands to start a play, not necessarily to end it. He doesn't have to be the player taking the shot. He can simply be the conductor of the Sixers’ offensive orchestra on a must-score possession. With all due respect to Embiid, Simmons as a point guard is the easiest way to create plays and points for the Sixers.
Simmons can: create a mismatch against a forward by blowing by him, create a mismatch against a smaller point guard in the post, drive and kick, run pick-and-roll, create space for an elbow jumper, and so on and so forth.
The possibilities aren't limitless because his range isn't at the moment. Still, Simmons is a point guard in a power forward's body and he doesn't have the same level of turnover problems which have plagued Embiid early on this season.
Perhaps Embiid will return top billing as the Sixers’ main option. But Simmons is the man for now.
While the Sixers are clear they want to funnel everything through their $146.5 million man, Simmons has made it hard for that to be the team’s top option.
Embiid still has the upper hand in raw numbers that would give him the appearance of the Sixers’ go-to guy. The center tops Simmons in points per game, usage rate and PER.
However, the eye test says it’s already Simmons just nine games into his NBA career. The point guard has proven to be a better scorer than was to be expected so soon with an average of 18.0 points a night.
More importantly, he has been able to smoothly set up the offense like a natural PG. Simmons’s 8.2 assists a night are good enough to have the rookie among the top five in the league.
Every “process” needs a conductor.
This is a total cop-out, but it depends on the time of the game and the type of game the Sixers are in.
In an up-and-down game played at a breakneck pace, it's Simmons. His ability to pull down rebounds and take them the other way in a flash is breathtaking. For the bulk of most games, the ball has to be in Simmons' hands for the offense to go.
In a grind-it-out, half-court game, it's Embiid. Look at the two wins in Texas. Embiid helped salt those games away with elite low post scoring.
With all that said, with the way the NBA is trending, the breakneck pace is what's in right now. But still, having the ability to also just throw it down low to a beast on the block is something a lot of the teams that play at a high pace don't have.
So 1A and 1B? Sure.