As the regular season has begun, our premonition about Philadelphia has been proven correct. While the team is top five in attempts from beyond the arc per game, they are in the bottom third when it comes to 3-point percentage, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Part of this issue is roster construction, and that includes the addition of Markelle Fultz to heavy playing time this year with the Sixers. The sophomore point guard struggled all last year after having an unexplainable saga that included him completely losing his jump shot.
Fultz is back, and more confident, but that doesn’t mean he is a good shooter. The University of Washington product has fared well at the rim, but shoots no better than 32% in any of the shot distance segments measured by B-R between the rim and the 3-point line.
Wing teammate Ben Simmons is not exactly a sharpshooter himself, but provides more offensive dynamism that helped him last year when Philadelphia had more shooters spaced out around him. This season has been a bit harder as teams have packed the paint against the Sixers, reducing the effectiveness of both Simmons and Fultz.
Eventually, something has to give.
That’s also the opinion of Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown, who said as much on Tuesday.
Brett Brown: Simmons and Fultz need to improve ‘shooting and spacing’ to be more effective as a tandem. #Sixers
— Tom Moore (@TomMoorePhilly) November 6, 2018
It’s hard to understand exactly how the Sixers can get better, as currently constructed, as a 3-point shooting team. There should be some progression over the next two years by Fultz in the aforementioned shot distance segments. In fact, there needs to be for him to continue to remain playable. Top guards like Damian Lillard are shooting 50 percent from 3-to-10 feet. Fultz is shooting 28 percent. It’s untenable.
The problem is that Simmons isn’t much better from that distance. Even as a bigger, stronger penetrator, Simmons shoots just 33% from 3-to-10 feet, which is unacceptable. At least, it will be as the Sixers mature and try to remain a top team in the Eastern Conference over the coming years.
I’m not sure what Brown wants to happen between these guys. No doubt some shooting improvement — iif only toward league averages — would certainly help space Philadelphia’s offense. But next season the Sixers will need to add some kind of shooting to their roster simply because it’s hard to imagine either of these players building their games around the 3-point line.
They’re going to have to start on how they shoot much closer than that, and work from there.