Identity is a very interesting thing. It can push an individual to immense, grandiose heights when they are settled in who they are as a person, but it can also cause an individual to wander in a lifelong state of confusion and wonder of who they are as a person, making mistakes along the way until it finally clicks for them.
Team sports are the same way.
Identity has to be established early on and everyone has to buy into what each coach is trying to set into stone. Some institute a tough, hard noised makeup, some want their team to play with joy and freedom, some with swagger and confidence, it all depends on the coach and their philosophy.
Enter the Nick Nurse era. Nurse has gained a reputation as a “mad scientist” in the NBA, willing to try new defensive schemes to get stops, offensive sets that create spacing for Embiid to flourish, and an aggressive style that isn’t afraid to take risks. A definite switch from the Doc Rivers era which was rather vanilla in its approach. While it translated to winning, the Sixers still couldn’t get out of the second-round cellar.
So far, the early results have been better than we thought: The Sixers rank 6th in points per game at 116.6 and as a team, shoot 39% from the three-point strip. Defensively, they rank 4th in points allowed at 104.4 per contest. Very respectable numbers early on in the season, but similar when compared to last year.
The difference in this team, however, comes down to the team’s philosophy. Nurse’s aggressive mindset has seemed to unlock the Sixers early on in the season. Look no further than the revelation of Kelly Oubre Jr. Oubre Jr. is averaging a career-high 21.0 points per game currently, shooting 53% from the floor and a scorching 44% from three.
Yes, it’s only five games into the season, but this Sixers team is much better than we may have initially thought. With James Harden shipped off to L.A., the ball doesn’t stick anymore to one player, causing more players to become offensive threats to worry about. It’s a small sample thus far, but for Philly fans, things are looking promising for this team.
Get on the train now, this might be a better season than first anticipated.