Joel Embiid‘s numbers are down in the major categories and the Sixers center feels that must change in order for the team to get rolling, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Embiid, who has missed four games during the Sixers’ 8-5 start, is averaging 22.9 PPG, 11.4 RPG and 1.4 BPG. He averaged 27.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG and 1.9 BPG last season.“I need to do more,” Embiid said. “I felt like I haven’t done enough. So that’s what I think I need to do.”
- The early struggles for the Sixers are baffling for fans and team staffers alike, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “If you’re sick and you don’t know why, then that’s a problem,” coach Brett Brown said after the team lost in Oklahoma City on Friday. “We’re in a tough spot right now. But it’s a long year. I think it doesn’t take much for me to understand where we have to get better, and it’s really that simple.” On the plus side for Philadelphia, the Sixers dominated the Cavs 114-95 on Sunday to extend their record to 8-5.
“Depending on what the matchup is, you can do it,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “We’ve got to be careful on it and stuff like that, but it’s good to get a lot of reps of it and see what kind of offense we can run from it. I think we found a few things he can run up there at the point.”
Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- OG Anunoby saw an eye specialist today and has been diagnosed with an eye contusion, the Raptors announced (Twitter link). The forward will miss at least Toronto’s next game on Wednesday in Portland.
- Trey Burke is capitalizing on the opportunity he’s receiving with Ben Simmons sidelined, Lauren Rosen of NBA.com writes. Burke, who joined the Sixers on a one-year deal this offseason, credits his preparedness for his ability to step into a larger role with the club.“This is a new situation for me – a championship-type organization,” Burke said. “I know I was going to have to be patient.”
- Quinn Davis of Basketball Insiders breaks down the Sixers‘ point guard situation behind Simmons. In addition to Burke, the team has Raul Neto, and Josh Richardson has been running some point recently.
- It’s been a season of streaks for the Sixers. After starting out 5-0, the 76ers have lost three straight games on a Western Conference road trip, falling to the fifth seed in the East. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer posits that the Sixers’ current troubles can be credited to their summer roster overhaul, and that they have too many new faces for continuity at present. New power forward Al Horford and long-term starting center Joel Embiid are still developing their on-court chemistry. When questioned about the team’s recent struggles, Horford observed, “What’s going to help us is the more games we continue to play, the more we get used to playing with one another, everything is going to come together.”
The Designated Veteran Extension, as we explain our glossary entry on the subject, is a relatively new addition to the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. It allows players with 7-9 years of experience, who would normally qualify for a maximum starting salary of 30% of the cap, to qualify for a “super-max” contract that starts at 35% of the cap, a level normally reserved players with 10+ years of experience.
A player who has seven or eight years of NBA service with one or two years left on his contract becomes eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension if he meets the required performance criteria and hasn’t been traded since his first four years in the league. A Designated Veteran contract can also be signed by a player who is technically a free agent if he has eight or nine years of service and meets the required criteria.
The performance criteria is as follows (only one of the following must be true):
- The player was named to an All-NBA team and/or was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.
- The player was named the NBA MVP in any of the three most recent seasons.
With those criteria in mind, it’s worth keeping an eye on the players who could qualify for a super-max veteran contract with their play this season. Let’s dive in and examine a few of those guys…
Players who already qualify for a super-max contract:
Antetokounmpo met the performance criteria for the super-max when he won last season’s MVP award. Gobert did so by winning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2018 and then being named to the All-NBA team in 2019 — his second consecutive DPOY award in ’19 merely put an emphatic stamp on his eligibility.
However, neither Antetokounmpo nor Gobert can actually sign a Designated Veteran Extension yet, since they must have seven years of NBA experience under their belts.
Each player is in his seventh season now, but years of experience aren’t officially added until the very end of the league year. In other words, the Bucks and Jazz stars will have to wait until next July to officially sign super-max extensions.
We know the Bucks will put that offer on the table for Giannis, but we’re not sure yet whether he’ll sign it. It also remains to be seen if the Jazz will make the same offer to Gobert. Based on the NBA’s latest cap projection for 2021/22 ($125MM), each player would be eligible for $253.75MM over five years.
Players who could qualify for a super-max contract by meeting the criteria in 2019/20:
Technically, any player who earns an All-NBA spot in 2019/20 and meets the contract criteria can qualify for a super-max, but the two players listed above are probably the only legitimately viable candidates. Thunder center Steven Adams, for instance, would become eligible for a super-max extension by earning an All-NBA spot, but that’s probably not happening.
Even Drummond might be a long shot, but if he can maintain the numbers he has posted in his first nine games (21.9 PPG, 18.6 RPG, 2.2 BPG), he’ll be in the conversation. So far, he’s outplaying last year’s All-NBA First Team center Nikola Jokic, who is off to a slow start.
Embiid, last season’s All-NBA Second Team center, looks like a safer All-NBA bet as long he stays healthy. He earned his spot in 2018/19 despite playing just 64 games, so if he can match or exceed that number this season with similar production, look for him to become super-max eligible.
Drummond is in his eighth NBA season, while Embiid is only in his sixth. So if Drummond were to earn All-NBA honors this season, he’d become eligible to immediately sign a super-max contract. Declining his player option and signing a five-year Designated Veteran contract would put Drummond in line for a deal worth $235.48MM based on the league’s latest cap projection for 2020/21 ($116MM). Though of course, there’s no guarantee the Pistons would be willing to go quite that high.
As for Embiid, if he makes an All-NBA team this season, he’ll be in a similar situation to the one Giannis and Gobert are in now — super-max eligible based on his performance criteria, but not yet on his contract criteria. He’d have to wait until the 2021 offseason to sign that extension. I expect the Sixers will be ready to do a super-max deal if he keeps playing at this level and doesn’t suffer any more major injuries.
It’s also worth mentioning Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns in this group. They’ll only have five years of NBA experience apiece after this season, so they wouldn’t be able to sign super-max extensions until the 2022 offseason. Technically though, one of them could meet the required performance criteria as early as this spring by winning the MVP award.
Players who can no longer qualify for a super-max contract:
There are many other players who could be added to this list, but these are the three who would otherwise be strong candidates to qualify the super-max if they hadn’t already become ineligible based on one of the required criteria.
In Beal’s case, he opted to sign a standard veteran extension this fall rather than wait to see if he’d make an All-NBA team this season and become eligible for the super-max. By the time he’ll be able to opt out of his new deal in the summer of 2022, he’ll have 10 years of experience under his belt, meaning he’ll automatically qualify for the 35% max.
Davis and Oladipo, meanwhile, were traded while playing out their rookie scale contract extensions, making them ineligible for a super-max. Davis would have been able to sign such a deal this past offseason if he had remained with the Pelicans.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
NOVEMBER 7, 5:46pm: Simmons will likely miss at least the Sixers’ next three games due to his shoulder sprain, league sources tell Haynes (Twitter link). Derek Bodner of The Athletic adds (via Twitter) that Simmons will definitely miss Friday’s game vs. Denver and will be re-evaluated prior to Sunday’s game vs. Charlotte.
NOVEMBER 7, 10:13am: An X-ray on Simmons’ right should came back negative, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who tweets that the 23-year-old will be further evaluated later today.
NOVEMBER 6, 10:48pm: Sixers star Ben Simmons will be re-evaluated Thursday after leaving tonight’s game with what is being called a “minor” AC joint sprain in his right shoulder, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Simmons suffered the injury midway through the first quarter. He took a pass in the high post and collided with Royce O’Neale while spinning to his right.
Simmons tried to shake off the injury and had what appeared to be a heating pad on it after checking out of the game later in the quarter. He re-entered with 6:56 left in the second quarter, but took himself out about a minute and a half later and went straight to the locker room. Pompey states that he seemed to be having trouble moving the arm.
Jimmy Butler‘s departure from the Sixers wasn’t simply a desire to play in Miami. He had some issues in Philadelphia which convinced him not to sign long-term with the organization, as he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
Butler made it known in the days leading up to free agency that he would leave Philadelphia, Haynes continues.
“Nobody knows what really went on in Philly and we’re going to leave it that way,” Butler said. “But it was a great opportunity for me.”
Butler chose the Heat on the first day of free agency and secured a four-year, $141MM contract when the Sixers agreed to a sign-and-trade that involved multiple teams.
Butler said his problems with the Sixers organization had nothing to doing with center Joel Embiid. Butler refused to elaborate what exactly led to his decision.
“All of that will come out whenever it’s time,” he said. “Right now is not the time. I’m locked in with this. I’m happy, man. … I’m not saying Philly wasn’t great, man. We had some really good players. I talk to Joel (daily). It’s a brotherhood, man. I love that guy. I’m going to always have his back and I know he’ll always have mine.”
Butler noted that he wanted to be traded to Miami when he had a falling out with the Timberwolves. He also expressed disdain for critics who believe that he’s not an franchise player.
“(They) act like I’m not a good basketball player,” Butler said. “Like for real. Just think about that. Like I can’t come in and make a huge difference. I’m not going to say ‘carry a team’ because nobody can do it by themselves and I mean that. I’m not putting it all on myself, but I know what I’m capable of.”
In his first three games with the Heat, Butler has averaged 14.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 7.3 APG and 4.3 SPG. His debut was delayed due to the birth of his daughter.
Six days ago, we asked which of the NBA’s four undefeated teams would be the last to lose. One after another, over the next three nights, the Nuggets, Timberwolves, and Spurs removed themselves from that conversation, suffering their first losses of the young season and leaving the Sixers as the last undefeated team standing.
With a one-point win over Portland on Saturday night, the 76ers kept that streak alive, and will enter tonight’s action with a 5-0 record. Buoyed by the NBA’s best rebounding rate and a defense that leads the league in steals, Philadelphia has put together its streak while still finding its way on offense. Now we’ll see how just much longer the club can stay out of the loss column.
Although Saturday’s win over the Trail Blazers was a good one, it was just the start of a challening road trip for the Sixers, who will play in Phoenix tonight, in Utah on Wednesday, and in Denver on Friday.
If Philadelphia can make it through that gauntlet unscathed, the team will be rewarded with winnable home games against the Hornets (November 10) and Cavaliers (Nov. 12) before going back on the road to face Orlando (Nov. 13), Oklahoma City (Nov. 15), and Cleveland again (Nov. 17).
The most likely scenario for the Sixers is dropping one of this week’s road games — the Jazz and Nuggets are expected to be among the West’s best teams, while the Suns are off to a good start and won’t have to face Joel Embiid, who is serving the final game of his two-game suspension tonight.
Plus, over the last few years, the NBA’s last undefeated team typically hasn’t gotten much further than this point without losing. The Bucks started 7-0 in 2018; the Clippers and Spurs went 4-0 in 2017; and the Cavaliers went 6-0 to open the 2016/17 season.
Of course, it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Philadelphia to continue its season-opening win streak into the double digits. In fact, the Warriors did much better than that in the fall of 2015 when they opened the season with an incredible 24-game winning streak. That Golden State squad was also the NBA’s best regular season team of all-time though, finishing the year with a 73-9 record. It seems safe to say the Sixers aren’t on that level.
What do you think? Will the 76ers’ run as the league’s last undefeated team end soon, or can they keep this streak going for at least few more games?
Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your prediction.
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It hasn’t taken long for Matisse Thybulle to become recognized as one of the NBA’s best defenders, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Defense was the calling card for Thybulle when he was selected with the 20th pick in this year’s draft, and his impact has been immediate. He leads the league in steals at 2.8 per game and is second on the team in blocks with 1.4 per night
“I try not to look at the numbers, because for me all the defensive (ones) just come from hustle and just getting lost in the game,” he said. “So it’s exciting to see the numbers. But do I really worry about them? No.