76ers

How Sixers are changing their ‘organic’ offense without JJ Redick

How Sixers are changing their ‘organic’ offense without JJ Redick

The idea of “organic basketball” might, at first read, sound something like a coach giving his players a pat on the back, a few words of encouragement and freedom to do whatever they please. That’s not what it means for the Sixers and head coach Brett Brown, who drilled home the importance of “concepts and fundamentals” Monday night at the Sixers’ practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, to those in attendance at his fifth annual “Coach the Coaches” clinic. 

Brown was joined by a crew of assistants, including new additions Joseph Blair and Ime Udoka. Along with reviewing basic principles like designating for offensive rebounding purposes “go guys” and “get back” guys and the value of re-screening when an opponent goes under a pick, the Sixers’ coaches mentioned some tweaks to the core of their system. 

Here are a few that stood out which are worth tracking this season: 

New offensive spacing 

The Sixers’ “A to B” offense isn’t going anywhere. This is their base offensive set, which often begins with the point guard (A) dropping it off to the big man (B).

There are two interesting spacing changes this year. Last year, the wings were usually stationed at the elbow extended and the power forward set up at the elbow. This season, the plan is for the wings to be in the corners and the power forward to be a couple steps behind the arc, behind the “four-point line” the Sixers have painted on their practice court.

The play below is an unusual one because it’s from a Jan. 26 game in which the Sixers had to play small without Joel Embiid, but it gives you a sense of what the “A to B” offense looked like. Redick starts near the left elbow, flares around a screen from Jonah Bolden at the right elbow and a free-flowing possession begins.

Redick was effective in that foul line extended spot because of the defensive attention he drew and the options available for him using those screens at the elbows or curling around for dribble handoffs. However, as assistant coach Kevin Young explained, it makes more sense for wings like Zhaire Smith who have greater athleticism than Redick but merit less attention from defenses to be spaced out in the corners.

Putting the power forward behind the four-point line won’t be entirely foreign, and this next play from March 28 showcases how and why it’s sensible for that to be the Sixers’ default mode.

The Nets are concerned with Redick running around Embiid and Ben Simmons’ screens, leading them to overbalance in his direction. Tobias Harris being set on the opposite wing behind the four-point line provides him the space to make an effective cut.

Blair, the head coach of the NBA G League champion Rio Grande Vipers in 2018-19, will be focusing on the Sixers' offense this season. He said he advocated for these new spacing principles. 

“Some of the things we talked about offensively tonight with spacing, I was a big stickler for a lot of those things,” he said. “I’m big on the corner spacing and spacing out our four-man, as well. That’s one of the things I was adamant about trying to implement here. So, I’m happy to see we’re doing a little more with our spacing.”

More "Explosion"

The Sixers had success last year with “Explosion,” their spontaneous, unpredictable cutting around a man in the post, often Ben Simmons.

“We get the ball to Ben and there’s different actions that can happen behind it,” Brown told NBC Sports Philadelphia in March. “There is a randomness to possibilities that has helped us. But the real key is movement. Playing static is not how we want to play with Ben Simmons on a back down.”

You can see Redick feinted a screen for Embiid at the right elbow then made a nice diagonal cut on the play above vs. Sacramento. None of the cutting around Simmons, though, was planned ahead of time.

The post offense around Embiid was “a little more static,” Brown said, to surround him with easy outlets and optimize spacing.

Young said Monday the Sixers intend to “double down” on “Explosion” this year, which is not surprising. It’s an action that’s nearly impossible to game plan for, and they’ve added a stellar post passer in Al Horford who should excel in that setting. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Pelicans' JJ Redick admits he was pleasantly surprised by first year with Sixers

Pelicans' JJ Redick admits he was pleasantly surprised by first year with Sixers

It's an interesting time for former Sixers sharpshooter JJ Redick. 

When he's not becoming a meme in the NBA bubble, Redick is expanding his side gig as a podcasting professional, and trying to keep his career-long NBA playoff streak alive.

In an appearance this week on Pardon My Take, Redick was asked about trying to keep that playoff streak alive as the Pelicans claw for a spot in the Western Conference's loaded postseason field. He knew going to a team like New Orleans, young and very clearly building for the future, might put his annual trip to the postseason in jeopardy, right?

Redick admitted he knew nothing was guaranteed, but he said that gambling with the streak really started when he signed a one-year deal with the Sixers in 2017.

And then... he just kept winning:

The first six or seven years, it's just normal. Then you get later on in your career, and you're like, 'Oh, I kind of want this streak to stay alive for my whole career.' But the funny thing is, when I went to Philly, I went to Philly to take the one-year bag, we all know that. But when I went to Philly, I ... expected us to make the playoffs, because I actually thought that team was built really well, with Joel and Ben, but there was really no guarantee that would happen.

We all think about the Embiid-Simmons era as synonymous with playoff contention, but it's easy to forget they were a sub-.500 team into the New Year in 2017p! Then they got hot in the spring, sprinted into the playoffs, reached the second round, and it was a whole new world for everyone involved.

Including Redick, who suddenly found himself on a perennial Eastern Conference contender and decided to re-up for the 2018-19 season, where the Sixers nearly beat the eventual champion Toronto Raptors in the second round.

The Pelicans are 2.5 games back of the 8-seed Memphis Grizzlies heading into Wednesday's slate of games, not an insurmountable mountain but definitely a bit of a stretch. 

And Redick probably won't regret securing another bag down in New Orleans - he's making $13.4 million this year - but if the Pelicans can't secure the berth, he might find himself sitting at home one night thinking about what could've been if he'd returned to that surprising Sixers squad for one more go 'round.

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: 
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Allen Iverson's take on the LeBron-Jordan debate isn't as controversial as you think

Allen Iverson's take on the LeBron-Jordan debate isn't as controversial as you think

Thanks to ESPN airing "The Last Dance" this summer, every basketball fan in the world is dusting off their favorite Michael Jordan memory.

And, because sports fans are nothing if not constantly combative, those stories are being used to try and keep LeBron James down. It's just how the Jordan-LeBron argument goes these days.

On Tuesday, Sixers legend Allen Iverson - someone who faced both James and Jordan - briefly touched on the neverending debate, and accidentally set the internet on fire.

And, as is often the case, Iverson didn't get a fair deal.

Iverson appeared on Fat Joe's Instagram Live show Tuesday, where Iverson and Joe talked for more than 70 minutes. But one clip was shared all over, in which Iverson touched on how he feels about Jordan and James: 

Sounds pretty juicy, right? One of the league's biggest icons possibly endorsing James over Jordan?

If you go back to the 1:03:30 mark of the talk, however, you'll see this isn't what happened. Because here's the full quote:

I'm not gonna fight what's the best. I'm not gonna fight. Like, much as I love Michael Jordan, dog, LeBron James is the one, dog. He the one. That m**********r is the one. Kevin Durant is the one, man. The one. He's like that. 

And the lead-in to that comment from Iverson? He was talking about appreciating Michael Jackson's music, saying he'd listen to Jackson's songs before games. He was talking about being a fan of what's great, and being able to appreciate current greatness while also appreciating previous greatness.

Frankly, it's a great way to approach the Jordan-LeBron debate! A nuanced take from a very nuanced guy. Michael Jordan was amazing. LeBron James is amazing. You can appreciate both, and more people should try to view them separately instead of qualifying their accomplishments against each other.

So let's just appreciate Iverson's take for what it is, instead of creating bonus arguments where they don't exist.

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: 
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers