If the Philadelphia 76ers intend to keep Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, they should take a page out of the Miami Heat’s book.
“Can Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons co-exist together?” It is a question as old as time. Every time the Philadelphia 76ers begin struggling, this question arises. With both players now injured in the NBA’s restart, many believe this could finally be the end of the line for Philadelphia’s star duo with an early playoff exit likely on the horizon.
The one thing that has always held the 76ers back aside from injury is there duo’s lack of shooting. It is no secret that both Simmons and Embiid have a shared struggle of hitting shots from distance. This predicament is certainly a problem in today’s game, but one team that seems to understand how to construct a roster in this situation is the Miami Heat.
Miami’s star duo, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, are horrendous shooting the ball from the floor this season, particularly from deep. Butler, a career 33.3 percent 3-point shooter, is having one of the worst shooting years of his career, connecting on a vile 24.4 percent of his attempts from deep. Adebayo is not much better, given that he is not much of a shooter regardless, as he is averaging a mere 14.3 percent from 3-point territory on the season.
Despite their star duo not being able to hit the long-ball consistently, the Miami Heat lead the league in a 3-point percentage at 38.1 percent per game. This is because the team surrounded Butler and Adebayo with pure shooters, which opened up the floor significantly and led to their rise in the Eastern Conference.
Shooting changed everything for the Miami Heat
On the season, Miami currently has four players shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range, those being Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder, Meyers Leonard, and Kelly Olynyk. The Heat also have three players averaging upwards of 35 percent from deep, those being Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic, and Kendrick Nunn.
While the Heat also have some below-average shooters such as Andre Iguodala, Solomon Hill, and Derrick Jones Jr., most of their rotational pieces are above average shooters. They constructed this roster through free agency, the draft, trade, and every other way imaginable, and it fits their duo perfectly.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, lacks this stability. Shake Milton is their only player shooting better than 40 percent from deep, and while they have some other above-average shooters, their past offseason signings have made things discombobulated as a whole in terms of fit.
Last season, they had J.J. Redick, one of the most prolific shooters in the entire league, who played a monumental part in their success. When he bolted immediately in free agency, the team brought aboard Josh Richardson and Al Horford, two players who have felt misplaced in Philadelphia, given their lackluster shooting efforts this season.
Miami is not going to split up their star duo because neither can shoot the ball at a high rate, and neither should the Philadelphia 76ers yet. While Philadelphia’s duo is far different than Miami’s, the 76ers need to follow a similar process and construct a roster built to play around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, filled with stellar 3-point shooters than can space the floor.
Reconstructing a roster to fit the needs of two players is undoubtedly far easier said than done, but if Philadelphia plans to keep this duo, it seems to be the only way to go. Health will always be a concern with these two, but if the right pieces get placed around them, this team could potentially fulfill “the process” once and for all.