Joe Paige | Sports Editor
Philadelphia is not off to the start that they thought they would have this season, in just 10 games they are last in the league in pace and are currently tied at 9th in the east alongside the Washington Wizards. Of course, it’s still just the beginning of the season and there's still a lot of basketball to be played for this team to pick up. However, they do not want to be in an uphill battle against these other competitive eastern conference teams fighting to have a crack at a top 5 seed.
The top of the east looks incredibly strong this year, Milwaukee got off to their best start in franchise history and Giannis Antetokounmpo looks like an MVP candidate again, Boston is already top 5 in three-point percentage and still looks promising even without their previous head coach who led them all the way to the finals just a season ago, Atlanta’s new backcourt addition in Dejounte Murrayhas beena perfect complement to Trae Young and John Collins, and most notably the Cleveland Cavaliers look amazing with their newest addition in Donovan Mitchell and don’t seem to slow down anytime soon.
Philadelphia acquired some quality role players in the offseason in PJ Tucker, Montrezl Harrell, De’Anthony Melton, and Danuel House.Tucker and House had played with James Harden previously in Houston for three seasons, once Daryl Moreybecame the GM of this team it was inevitable that he’d try to reunite the former MVP with the same talent that helped Harden go deep in the playoffs in the past. One of the biggest questions for this team entering this season was if Harden would step his game up, while his numbers so far are nearly identical to last years, the eye test shows he’s been more confident and consistent from three and has put much more emphasis on getting to the line lifting his free throw percentage up 3.7% from last season.
While they are currently in the top 10 in offensive rating in the league according to NBA’s advanced stats, they’re in the middle of the league in defensive rating, a big part of this is their transition play.They rank 4th last in transition, both defensively and even offensively. There are far too many moments in their games when, in transition, players don’t make an effort to get down the floor. This results in not being able to stop players from going downhill on a fastbreak defensively, and offensively it prevents them from scoring whilst the opponent is still getting set on defense.
This looks like a team that’s just trying to figure out how to play around each other as this really is a completely different roster from years before. It’s going to take time for this new group to figure out how to manage the flow of the game on both ends, but they still have 72 games to get it right. Keep in mind just last year the Boston Celtics in the first half of the season wereat around.500 and were on nobody’s radar to make it out the east, in the second half of the season they turned it completely around and made a deep run into the finals. There’s no question this team has talent, but will they be able to harness it before the all-star break or even before the playoffs begin, that we shall see.