With the dearth of talent the Sixers find themselves with this year, statistical leaders on the team will be more varied than they’ve been in nearly a decade. It’s time now to see if we can forecast who those statistical leaders will be.
Field Goal Percentage – Amir Johnson
Amir Johnson finds himself on the Sixers as their seasoned veteran there to aid the young players in how to approach the game. Yet Johnson is no slouch. Combining that fact with a presumed lower usage rate and no necessity for him to “go get his”, Johnson should see several easy looks simply by being in the right position. With willing passers in Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, expect Johnson to shoot a percentage well above 50%.
Prediction: 58% FG
Three-Point Percentage – JJ Redick
JJ Redick has 23 million reasons to look to have his best three-point shooting year of his career. Yet, it’s not just motivation of money that will allow Redick to lead the Sixers in three-point percentage. Redick, similar to Johnson, will find himself good, open looks where he belongs – behind the arch. With Simmons, Fultz, and Joel Embiid commanding attention on drives into the paint and post ups, Redick will be free to roam the three-point line putting himself in perfect position to bomb away. The “JJ Redick Eight Three’s” playoff game is coming and I’m more than ready.
Prediction: 41% 3FG
Blocks – Joel Embiid
Embiid asserted himself as a dominant rim protector last season and it’s not unreasonable for him to further improve in that regard. Opponents were constantly seeing their shots sent into the stands when attempting to score with Embiid in the area. His elite timing coupled with his height and athleticism made him one of the most feared rim protectors in the league last season. With a hopefully higher minutes load, more games played, and improved team defense, Embiid will be in prime position to host a nightly block party on Broad Street in route to some legit Defensive Player of the Year consideration.
Prediction: 2.6 BPG
Steals – Robert Covington
Robert Covington elevated his defensive game to new heights last season, putting together a campaign that garnered him real All-NBA Defense consideration. Whether he was blowing up pick and rolls, switching on to guards or pestering the team’s best perimeter player, Covington was everywhere. With that being said, it’s a fair estimate that Covington will lead a likely stingy defense in steals. Covington is just too elite at deflecting the ball to not turn those opportunities into steals. Covington will be the starter to some jaw dropping transition plays thanks in large part to his steal that started it.
Prediction: 2.1 SPG
Rebounds – Ben Simmons
Embiid may give Simmons a run for his money in this department, but expect the Aussie to narrowly edge him out. Although Embiid has almost four inches on Simmons, the LSU product just has too many elite tactics when it comes to rebounding the ball. Simmons has a knack for carving out space to grab the looming defensive rebound while showing a true eye for the ball when flying in to secure the rebound after guarding from the perimeter. But Simmons wasn’t born yesterday – the more defensive rebounds he secures, the more opportunity he has for dazzling full court plays. This was part of the reason for his dominant rebounding in college at 11.8 per game as Simmons was relegated to more of point forward role in college as opposed to his expected point guard role he’ll have with the Sixers.
Prediction: 9.1 RPG
Assists – Ben Simmons
He’s that good. The team’s leading rebounder also happens to be the best and most heralded play-maker. Although Fultz could show some competition for this title, his more off-ball role will make assists his side job to getting buckets. Brett Brown has been adamant about Simmons working in a primary initiator role throughout the season. Coupling this with Simmons’ preternatural vision and it’s hard to see him not leading the team in assists. But Simmons’ assist total have just as much to do with his teammates as it does his gifts. The Sixers will offer their starting forward a variety of assist opportunities whether it be kick outs for threes to Redick and Covington or lobs to Embiid as breaking down the defense. The team is built to accentuate Simmons’ talents leading to a lofty assist total, the best on the team.
Prediction: 6.2 APG
Points – Joel Embiid
Seven feet, two inches tall and twenty points a game. That statement is just silly but that’s the reality Embiid lived in while playing less than thirty minutes a game. If Embiid’s minutes can be elevated to a somewhat normal NBA starter, twenty points a game may sound closer to thirty in his second season. Embiid displayed a deft talent at scoring the basketball in his first 31 games with pick and pop three pointers, face up jumpers or dream shakes that evolved into hook shots. Although the Sixers may have added several NBA players that will command some touches and attention, Embiid is still the fulcrum of the team’s offense. With that being evident, the capable offensive players added will only force defenses to give less attention to Embiid, creating a mismatch night in and night out. Send your prayers out to Marc Zumoff and his vocal cords, because bellowing “Embiid for three!” will get taxing on the man.
Predicition: 24.8 PPG
PHOTO – sixers.com