2018-19 NBA Preview: Areas of improvement for every Sixers youngster
The Philadelphia 76ers' fanbase has had to endure the long and arduous route of tanking for several seasons in order to accumulate enough talent to make a run at title contention. But with the 2017-18 season, those travails ended for a fanbase which has had 2 successive #1 overall picks (2016 and 2017) before making the playoffs this past year.
Having already made several strides in just one season, the Sixers will now be aiming to go all out in an Eastern Conference finally free of LeBron's vice-like grip. While last year's elimination in the playoffs against the Celtics was definitely a snag in The Process, the level of talent they possess in their ranks is too much for them to aim any lower than a Finals berth this go-around.
Let's take a look at the improvements each of the Sixers' youngsters needs to make over the coming season.
#1 Ben Simmons - Developing a shot
There's a reason the entirety of the NBA fraternity is already raving about the #1 overall pick from the 2016 NBA draft. After redshirting his rookie season, Simmons transitioned so effortlessly into a transcendent player in the NBA that the Rookie of the Year race for the 2017-18 season was effectively a foregone conclusion by January, though Mitchell arguably had the better second half of the season.
Blessed with an extremely athletic physique and capable of executing fast, quick-twitch movements at nearly 7', Simmons also happens to have one of the neatest handles in the league. Playmaking comes but naturally to this Aussie, who carries himself up and down the court with the calm and composure of a seasoned NBA vet.
The young King will, however, need to develop a jumpshot to fulfil his immense potential. He was dead last in mid-range field goal percentage last season, and tends to attempt all kinds of poorly constructed shots from that range instead of using a consistent jump-shooting release.
Now, this problem seems to be a really fundamental shortcoming in Simmons' game and it may well take several years for him to develop a reliable shot. But the way the Celtics defended him in the playoffs this summer makes it imperative for him to start the work as soon as he can.