There’s a reason for the Philadelphia 76ers’ lack of consistency.
After a disappointing New Year’s Eve loss to the Indiana Pacers, the young guard did not mince his words when asked about the Sixers’ problems.
“I don’t think that there’s enough accountability in our locker room right now, honestly,” he said. “I think that we got some new guys, who don’t want to step on toes, including myself. I feel like we kind of go play and don’t compete as much.”
His comments are much appreciated to understand why the Sixers, who came into the season with serious championship aspirations, have underperformed nearly halfway through the 2019-20 campaign. A slew of major personnel moves in the offseason was supposed to stabilize a roster that had seen two major upheavals in the season prior.
Even though the Sixers are 25-15 and are undefeated against two of the Eastern Conference’s three best teams — the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics — it’s hard not to see that this team has provided lackluster returns on its expensive investment. The team’s issues speak less to its talent than to its character.
Accountability is an issue that has plagued the Sixers for years now. Despite major roster changes and countless new players, the issue has persisted and revealed a concerning fact: that this is a structural issue.
It is easy to scapegoat one or two persons for the team’s problems. Ben Simmons‘ lack of a jump shot, Joel Embiid’s conditioning, or Brett Brown’s coaching abilities are popular excuses for the Sixer’s problems. Still, no single excuse correctly describes the lack of accountability that runs deep in the organization.
The Sixers pulled off a marvelous win versus the Celtics on Jan. 9 without Embiid, who is nursing a torn tendon in his finger. This incredible win was followed by a frustrating loss against the Dallas Mavericks who, led by MVP candidate Luka Dončić, were still very beatable.
The Sixers were full of energy against Boston and bereft of it against Dallas. Their effort, much like their gameplan, lacked consistency. The juxtaposition of these two games is just one of dozens of other times in which the Sixers exhibited poor accountability.
It is, as Richardson implied, the job of the players to hold each other accountable to ensure they always give it their all, game in and game out. Coach Brown is tasked with disciplining his players when they slack off and show that tired play will not be tolerated.
Further, it is up to Elton Brand, Josh Harris, and the rest of the front office to make sure their players are executing the goals of the Sixers to the best of their abilities and to check that Brown is doing the same.
Unfortunately, as recent play has revealed, the Sixers are not holding each other accountable, top to bottom.
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