1. Ben Simmons is still Ben Simmons
It didn’t take long for Ben Simmons to pick up where he left off last season against the United. Just three minutes into the game, Simmons threw the ball off the backboard to himself and was able to find last year’s No. 1 pick, Markelle Fultz, for a layup. Simmons would finish the game with eight points, eight rebounds, 14 assists and two steals. Also, much to 76ers fans dismay, no made 3-pointers. The jump shot is still coming along, but it doesn’t take away from the impact Simmons has on the game. Simmons’ stat line may not jump off the page aside from the assists, but it was still enough for the visiting team, Melbourne United of the National Basketball League, to attempt to trade their entire roster for the Australian-born Simmons. It was an easy decision for newly-named 76ers General Manager Elton Brand to decline the offer – and Simmons made it look easy on the court, doing his damage in just 26 minutes of work.
2. Markelle Fultz continues to show flashes
After not playing for a majority of the playoffs, and only appearing in only 14 regular season games for the 76ers last year, the jury was still out on the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Markelle Fultz. Fultz was put on blast because of his shot mechanics, but significant improvement has been made since his rookie campaign. He didn’t attempt a three pointer, but had a nice pull-up jumper for two of his 14 points. Fultz showed off on the defensive end as well, tallying two steals, and two blocks, including a chase down block in the third quarter. Now that’s he’s fully healthy, Fultz is bound for a lot more playing time, and should be in for a starting role in the near future.
3. The 3-point shooting should stay on pace with last year
Last season, the 76ers were tied for eighth in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage. The team may have lost Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, who shot 39 percent and 36 percent, respectively. They’ve since added other players who can stretch the floor.
2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden can stretch the floor from the center position. Mike Muscala, who was acquired from the Atlanta Hawks, is another big man who can shoot from the outside. He is a career 38 percent 3-point shooter.
Wichita State product Landry Shamet, who the 76ers selected with pick No. 26 in this past summers draft, shot 44 percent from deep in his two full seasons with the Shockers. Even No. 16 pick Zhaire Smith, who is currently sidelined with a fractured foot, showed promise at Texas Tech. He shot 45 percent from beyond the arc in 40 attempts. Oh yeah, don’t forget about the returning J.J. Redick, who connected on 42 percent of his looks from three last season. Redick had two of the team’s six made 3-point field goals on the night, being the lone bright spot for the 76ers, who as a team shot 6-29 (20.7%) from three. 76ers fans shouldn’t be discouraged, however, as the team has the parts in place to be among the NBA’s best shooting teams again this season.
4. Even with Fultz starting in the preseason, Redick is still the Sixers best play at Shooting Guard
It’s no secret. Fultz is the future at the shooting guard spot for the 76ers. However, he’ll need more time to get his jump shot up to speed, and give the 76ers starting lineup a knockdown 3-point shooter, something that Redick already provides. Redick should hold the starting shooting guard spot until Fultz proves he can become a threat from the outside, because the starting lineup outside of Redick is shaky at times. Robert Covington is streaky. Simmons failed to make a three last year, and Joel Embiid only shot 31 percent from deep last year. Embiid has been vocal about becoming more of a threat in the post. While Embiid still deserves attention on the perimeter, forward Dario Saric is the better threat from the outside. Saric shot nearly 40 percent from deep last season. With that being said, Redick should get the starting nod for now, but in the long run, the shooting guard spot is Fultz’ to lose.
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