NBA: Utah Jazz at Philadelphia 76ers
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Stick to Sports: The Sixers are still a giant mess, bigly

Week 2 of our Sixers Big Man Tracker adds a new big man, but still no wins.

Since our last Big Man Tracker update the Sixers made a huge (pun) move, shipping out Jerami Grant for Ersan Ilyasova, adding another player 6-10 or taller to the enormous frontcourt mix.

In three games, Ilyasova has averaged 25.5 minutes and 15 points, struggling from the field against Utah but, with Joel Embiid, keeping the Sixers in the heartbreakingly close loss to the Cavs.

And yet through six games, Brett Brown’s Sixers are winless, with a home and home tonight and Friday against Indiana next on the slate. At some point the Sixers will win a game, and they’ll probably still win more games than the 10 they won last year, but they are an absolute mess on the court right now, losing close games late and getting utterly blown out in others.

Even Embiid, who looks at times like a young Hakeem Olajuwon with his low post moves and ball-handling skills, has been stymied at times by both foul trouble and an inability to hold onto the ball. Embiid is averaging 10 turnovers per 100 possessions, which needs to improve. He’s also leading the team in three-point percentage — small sample size, yes — which is frightening.

Here’s a look at the Sixers Big Man minutes per game this season.

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Sixers Big Man Minutes (Click to Enlarge)

Billy Penn Illustration

Two things to notice, the minutes per team game (and points per team game below) chart creates an average for each DNP equal to zero. So while Embiid’s minutes per game average is 17.5, his minutes per team game drops to account for the game in which he did not play. Embiid isn’t paying Wednesday, so that number will drop even more, even though his minutes per game won’t.

We decided to count Jahlil Okafor’s DNP against Orlando the same way, because that was announced before the game, despite the box score listing him as DNP – Coaches Decision. Okafor warmed up with the team and was in uniform, but was never going to play in that game, hence the reason we counted that the same way as Embiid’s DNP against Charlotte when he didn’t even make the trip. Conversely, Richaun Holmes had a DNP against Cleveland, but we are considering that the same as playing zero minutes, hence his minutes per game average on our tracker is different than his official team stats, but his minutes per team game hasn’t dipped below his minutes per game average.

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Sixers Big Man Minutes (Click to Enlarge)

Billy Penn Illustration

The points per game are pretty straightforward. For Ilyasova, we started counting his points and minutes with his first Sixers game, meaning his per team game stats are based on just the Sixers games he was eligible and available to play. With Holmes, his average for points dips the same way his average for minutes dipped. For Embiid and Okafor, per team game points are lower, and will continue to diverge the more games they miss.

Once Nerlens Noel gets back, and Ben Simmons after him, their per game stats will (hopefully) be high, but their per team game stats will be incredibly low. That’s the point of that stat, and I for one, cannot wait until we see those numbers start to move. The team needs Noel on defense and needs Simmons everywhere. What the Sixers will look like in a few months isn’t close to what they are now. They may be better with Ilyasova, but they’re still a mess. Bigly.

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