The 76ers returned to Orlando, there’s seemed to be a little pep in their steps. Joel Embiid looks a little quicker, Shake Milton has been playing at the point guard some, and Coach Brown has made it clear that the Sixers will play fast.
This doesn’t necessarily just mean run up and down the court fast as many times as they can, what Brown is alluding to ball movement, off-ball cuts, and easy high percentage shots. Recently in a media availability, Brown said that a line up of Simmons, Korkmaz, Harris, Thybulle, and Horford would most definitely be in the rotation. While not really the most eye-popping lineup, and missing the Sixers’ star center Joel Embiid, this line up can be very intriguing.
First off, this line up is very consistent on making shots. Thybulle’s shot is the biggest key to this lineup, if his shot isn’t falling, the line up will be ineffective for the most part. The defense having to respect the wings’ shooting is key to making this lineup work. In theory, on offense with the shooters shooting at a decent percentage, this lineup has the ability to move, and move fast, while also spacing the floor and allowing open room in the lane for cutters. At the same time because of this, the fast break can be deadly. If Ben can rebound and go, with Tobias running alongside and cutting to the net, Korkmaz and Thybulle on the wing ready to catch and shoot, and Horford’s ability to not only shoot from the trailing position but also make the right pass, defenses are going to be lost in translation.
One of the best examples we have to show how dangerous this line up is, was in Cleaveland, way back on Nov 17 of this season (weird right that we are saying this season in July lol). Here are some examples, all within a minute span of each other, of how this line up can and should work in theory:
The first thing to note here is how disruptive the defense is with Thybulle, but once they get into the offensive set, Tobias draws a mismatch with Nance. So it’s an easy 4 out, with the two shooters, Thybulle and Korkmaz foul line extended, and Horford in the corner. At this point, the defense knows Tobias can and will drive past Nance. he drives right, and the wing defenders then need to choose, do I stop the layup and leave my man, or do I stay with the shooter? Since Horford’s man is closest to the rim, he slides over, leaving Horford open, and it’s an easy drive and dish from Tobias for a Horford 3. Again, this line up is going to be predicated on making open shots.
Here, off a miss shot and rebound is where we see Ben at his most dangerous, the defense is on its heels because of Ben’s speed and ability to get to the rim, the guards that are able to get back on defense have to respect Thybulle and Korkmaz on the opposite wing, and the bigs get lost whether to guard the trailing Horford or the cutting Tobias. Because Simmons’ has the vision and passing ability that he does, he easily finds the cutting Tobias for an easy layup. A high percentage, easy bucket.
This next possession is my least favorite possession but still ends with an easy dunk for Ben. Korkmaz, out of all 5 players is my least favorite player push the ball. However, that’s the danger of this lineup, every player can rebound and go, and he even makes the right read, it’s just a terrible pass. The key to this possession is how fast they get down the court, it leaves the defense in disarray, Horford gets the offensive rebound, and where some bigs may try to force a shot up, he has the basketball IQ to see the open lane, with a cutting Ben Simmons, and passes him the ball for an easy dunk. Remember pace includes not just up and down, but off-ball cuts too. This lineup’s goal is to play fast and get high percentage shots.
The final possession in this series is what I think ultimately Brown is trying to unlock with Ben Simmons. The Lebron outlet pass to a streaking player behind the defense for an easy bucket. At this point, the defense has seen 3 fast possessions resulting in either easy dunks or open threes, and with Ben’s size and ability to rebound along with Horford, it allows Tobias to sneak out when the shot goes up. Once Simmons gets the rebound, he has the option to push with the defense on their heels, outlet to a wing shooter, or pass the length of the court. Because Ben is a unique big with the ability to pass on point, he hits Tobias with a full-court pass for an easy two points.
There is still work to be done with this lineup, they only played in 33 games and a total of 156 minutes with an offensive rating of 101.8 as per nba.com. With a pace of 101.30 puts them at about league average for 5 man line ups that played together for over 150 minutes. In contrast, the highest line up for pace with over 150 minutes belongs to the Bucks at 110.2. If we are going to believe Brett Brown saying “Fast, we will play”, it is safe to assume that in the return to play this line up will up that pace in Orlando.
Fast, up and down, off-ball cuts, and ball movement along with hitting open shots, is key to this line up working in Orlando. It’s worked at times in the season, and when you have a team against the ropes, this pace and space line up can be the knockout punch to get a quick 10-0 run to really put away a team.
AND IT’S FUN!