If the Sixers Stars Align In 2015

2 of 3

Apr 13, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Injured Philadelphia 76ers center

Nerlens Noel

(4) dressed in plain clothes on the bench during a timeout in the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

2013/14 Worst Defense In The League

When the Philadelphia 76ers traded their lone bright star from the team, Jrue Holiday, to the New Orleans Pelicans for Nerlens Noel, it was the beginning of a trend.  The Sixers could and would delay the benefits of an action to maximize the eventual value.  At the time, Nerlens Noel was rehabbing an ACL operation on his knee.   To select him, a team would need to weather the storm for a year while he rehabilitated.

So that’s just the Sixers did.  They weathered a storm.

In 2013/14 season they had the absolute worst defense in the NBA, allowing 109.9 points per game.  Focusing on defense last season, the team improved dramatically to 101 points per game.  In 2013/14 they had an offense that scored 99.5 points per game.   That production dropped last season to nearly the league low of 92.0 points per game.
But with the focus on scoring, and with an eye on maintaining defense, can this team do better?

I think yes, they can.  We’ve discussed the fact that the Sixers were the worst turnover team in the NBA last season. But the team has taken steps to correct that, having severed ties with players who accounted for nearly 13 turnovers per game (TPG). With that fix alone, the team could shave approximately ten points from the opponents score (12.8 TPG x 44% shooting x 2pts) and add nearly nine points to their own score (12.8 TPG x 40% shooting x 2 pts).  Now we know that the playing minutes will not result in zero TPG, but logically with no other changes we should be adding more points to our offense and reducing opponents points on our defense.

To put on new clothes, you need to disrobe.   To become a contender, the team needs to shed habits and players who do not fit their path to success.  The first stop on the path to success was to improve defensively.  Did they?  Yes, why yes they did.  When Noel joined the team on the basketball court, he became a significant defensive presence.   It was that presence that enabled the team to shave nearly 9 points per game from their opponents.  Defense was last year’s focus.  It will continue to be a priority, but the team has a new focus this year.  Offense.   To get to that point, the team needs to continue to rebuild.

Next: Sixers Offend