The Philadelphia 76ers need more pick-and-rolls in their offense.
If you’ve ever seen a recent Philadelphia 76ers game on television, online or in-person, you’ve probably noticed that their offense doesn’t appear to be what most NBA offenses look like. One of the main reasons being is because they don’t run a lot of pick-and-rolls, however that needs to change during these playoffs.
Head coach Brett Brown is on the proverbial “hot seat” and one of the main reasons why is that his offensive schemes aren’t always good, and one could argue it’s because of the lack of a high volume of pick-and-rolls. I recently spoke about the lack of pick-and-roll offense on our recent podcast, which I suggest you listen to after you finish reading this article.
In fact, the Sixer rank near or at the bottom in most pick-and-roll roll-man statistics this season. Philly ranks 26th in pick-and-roll possession and frequency. They also rank 29 in points per pick-and-roll possession, 28th in points per pick-and-roll, and are 30th in pick-and-roll percentage.
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However, Brown has the players to have an effective pick-and-roll offense. In terms of ball handlers, Josh Richardson, Ben Simmons, Shake Milton, and Alec Burks all shoot over 40.0 percent and average more than 0.8 points per possession.
Out of those four players, Milton and Burks appear to be most elite as they have the highest scoring percentage out of the ball handlers in a pick-and-roll play type. They are the reason why the Sixers can and should implement more pick-and-rolls.
Burks was acquired in a mid-season trade and Milton was having a post-All-Star break before the season was postponed by the coronavirus. Both can create for themselves or others out of the play, which will allow Brown to run more pick-and-rolls if he chooses to do so. It should be noted that if Simmons ever becomes comfortable taking jump shots, then he would be included in this category as well.
It’s not just ball-handlers, the 76ers have some solid roll men on the roster as well. Surprisingly, Joel Embiid isn’t one of them, as he only converts 38.0 percent of his pick-and-roll field goals. While this is disappointing, Philly can survive without Embiid being an elite pick-and-roll big.
Simmons, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Norvel Pelle can be great rollers for the Sixers. All four players score at least one point and shoot at a minimum of 42.7 percent on such plays.
While Horford’s shooting percentage on pick-and-rolls aren’t great this season, he’s shown in seasons past that he’s been a great pick-and-roll big man. If Brown starts running more, I suspect his shooting percentage on the play would increase.
Pelle will probably play sparingly during the playoffs so it seems his solid pick-and-roll numbers don’t mean too much during this postseason. However, Simmons and Harris have impressive pick-and-roll shooting percentages and points per possession as the roller, despite having low frequency and points.
If Brown were to implement more pick-and-rolls in his playbook, then he should pair Milton or Burks with either Harris, Simmons, or Horford. If any of those combinations of players are out on the floor with shooters like Furkan Korkmaz and Glenn Robinson III for example, then the 76ers should have an effective pick-and-roll offense.
Going into the postseason, the Philadelphia 76ers have the ability to incorporate an effective pick-and-roll offense and should do so.