The Philadelphia 76ers‘ 2020 offseason was remarkable.
After turning in a truly noteworthy 2019-20 season for all of the wrong reasons, fine master Daryl Morey transformed a mismatched roster of big, slow, non-shooters into the top-seed in a top-loaded Easter Conference; all for the low, low price of a future first-round pick, some bench players, and about a half dozen second-round picks.
Is the team a perfectly tuned machine? No. The Sixers’ depth chart has some very noticeable deficiencies in key areas, but after only officially joining the team as their President of Basketball Operations on November 2nd, Morey’s efforts deserve a ton of credit, even if you disagree with his decisions to pass on superstar talent in favor of a small-time trade for George Hill.
With that being said, if Game 1 of the team’s Semifinals series is of any indication, the Philadelphia 76ers should be in hot pursuit of some external help to further fortify their roster this summer, as they just don’t have the high-volume sniper needed to win a shootout against a high-scoring team like the Atlanta Hawks.
The Philadelphia 76ers need to secure Simmons and Embiid another shooter.
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The duo each drained over 100 3s – a feat only Furkan Korkmaz was able to match – and finished out the regular season ranked first and second on the team in shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Factor in Green’s contributions as a defensive-minded pickpocket and Curry’s secondary playmaking abilities, and the Sixers have to be extremely pleased with how their fourth and fifth starters have acclimated into their reestablished starting five.
With that being said, the pairing affectionately known as “Green Curry” is far better suited as complementary pieces around an established core, instead of as focal points from which to rely upon with regularity.
Now granted, that doesn’t mean Green and/or Curry can’t go off for 20-plus depending on the day. Green logged two 20-plus point games in 2020-21, and Curry almost quintupled that figure with 11 20-plus performances of his own in only 57 games. But to count on either player to drain a half dozen 3s with regularity? That’s a fool’s errand that just isn’t backed up by the numbers.
In 69 and 57 games of action respectively, Green and Curry hit an average of 2.5 and 2.2 3 pointers a night, good for the 25th and 40th best marks in the league. Had the duo attempted a few more shots a game, maybe those averages would have gone up, but then again, would they have remained as effective on greater volume? Green and Curry both finished out the regular season in the top-40 in 3 point shooting percentage largely because they were auxiliary weapons who feasted on open looks on the wings facilitated by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in the paint. If D&G played bigger roles in the offense, would they have been more heavily featured on the scouting report and thus afforded more respect in coverage?
No, what the Sixers really, really, truly, dare I say desperately need is a high-volume shooter who is built for the big stage and can provide some pop either in the starting five or coming off the bench in a sixth-man role.
Unfortunately, that’s a whole lot easier said than done.
In 2020-21, only 15 players league-wide knocked down an average of three 3 pointers per game. Of those players, five are currently signed to max contracts, and only three – Lonzo Ball, Devonte’ Graham, and Duncan Robinson – are on rookie contracts. While it’s not completely unheard of to land a volume 3 point shooter in the draft, as Graham was selected with the 34th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and Robinson wasn’t drafted at all, that happens far less often than many a general manager would like, especially ones who pick late in the NBA Draft.
Unless Korkmaz and/or Isaiah Joe can seriously step up their game and develop into lights out offensive contributors – assuming, of course, the Sixers are even able to retain Korkmaz, who is an impending free agent – Daryl Morey and company will likely have to look externally to find a volume shooter capable of adding a much-needed wrinkle to their offense in high-scoring outings.
That, again, isn’t ideal for a team well over the cap.
Outside of a $5.89 Mid-Level Exception, and an $8.19 million trade exception that expires on December 8th, the Sixers really can’t engage in a bidding war for any external free agents and would be hard-pressed to pull off a trade for a highly paid marksman without attaching George Hill’s $10.04 million contract in the negotiations.
Factor in Green’s impending free agency – which shouldn’t be a big deal, considering the Sixers hold his Early Bird Rights- and the team may find themselves hard strapped to secure the sort of difference-maker needed to improve upon an admittedly impressive 2020-21 season.
Then again, who would have predicted that both Curry and Green would be members of the Sixers when they were eliminated from the Bubble in a four-game sweep by the Celtics? If anyone can find a way to steal a legit sixth man away from a not-so-good team looking for future assets, it’s Daryl “Moreyball” Morey.
As things presently stand, the Philadelphia 76ers are not built to win games via shootout. Their top-3 players only take an average of 6.4 3 pointers a game, and that’s the same number of attempts just Trae Young takes in 33.7 minutes of action a night. For now, Doc Rivers and company should focus on playing their usual brand of hard-nosed, defense-focused basketball, but this offseason, it’d probably be a good idea to invest heavily in a legit sixth man who can provide some pop coming off the bench and in high-volume shootouts. Just an idea.