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The Sixers’ Offense May Look a Little Different from Last Year, But It Isn’t

Dec 4, 2012, 1:14 PM EDT

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Yesterday, AU went over the ways in which this Sixers team is different from last year’s. All of his points were right — they don’t run as much, actually win close games, shoot more from three, get greater production from their starters and have room to improve. That last one is the real key.

All that said, while the Sixers’ means of production have certainly changed, their end results look eerily similar.

The Sixers don’t score in the paint and don’t get to the free-throw line. Worse, they don’t shoot a high percentage from the floor. Thus, you probably won’t be surprised to learn they don’t put up many points either. Any of that sound familiar?

First thing’s first, without Andrew Bynum, the Sixers lack a back-to-the-basket big. Thad  Young gets into dirty areas, but Spencer Hawes likes to play face up and Lavoy Allen is out of position at center. As for the perimeter, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner will penetrate and Nick Young will put on some type of goddamn magic show every now and then, but the rest of the team is content to shoot further from the basket. Consequently, the Sixers are 27th in the league in points in the paint per game, with 35.5.

Of course, when you don’t score in the paint, you don’t get to the free throw line, because if you don’t play in the lane, you don’t get fouled. The Sixers are 28th in the league with 18.9 free throw attempts per game.

If you’re not scoring from close to the basket, you better be shooting the ball well, right? Nope, not the Sixers. Their team field goal percentage of 43.1 is 24th in the league.

Add it all up, and the Sixers are averaging 93.1 points per game. That numbers ties Orlando for 25th in the NBA.

So, how do those numbers stack up compared to 2011-12?

2011-12: 38.2 PIP / 18.2 FTA / 44.8 FG% / 93.6 PPG
2012-13: 35.5 PIP / 18.9 FTA / 43.1 FG% / 93.1 PPG

The one key difference we mentioned at the top was the three-point shooting. The Sixers are launching roughly two more makes from range on four more attempts for a two-percent better average:

2011-12: 5.3 3PM / 14.6 3PA / 36.2 3P%
2012-12:
7.1 3PM / 18.4 3PA / 38.2 3P%

In short, the Sixers have traded 2.7 points in the paint per game for 2.8 more makes from three, but score a half-point less each game. That’s a wash.

To some extent, it’s still early, and this team wasn’t supposed to play most, if not all of its season without Andrew Bynum. But his absence is a reality the Sixers must live with, and 17 games is a long enough stretch of time to get a read on a team, even if it still has growing to do.

So right now, through 17 games, even after bringing in eight new faces — excluding Bynum — the Sixers’ offense may operate just a little differently, but it produces exactly the same results.

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