Getting the most out of your best players is one of the easiest ways to accomplish short-term success in any sport, but I feel it is especially true in Basketball as a team with so many high impact players and such specific means of supporting them. It’s also not easy, as maximizing one player’s performance can sometimes come at the cost of others.
Take for example, this years’ Houston Rockets, who attempted to add Carmelo Anthony into a team with James Harden and Chris Paul. The reason the Rockets could make having two ball-dominant guys like Paul and Harden work last year is the extent to which Mike D’Antoni staggers the minutes of the two. This effectively allows each player to get their shots, keeping both their efficiency and usage rates high simultaneously. Adding a player who is notably not efficient and needs the ball in his hands arguably more than the previous two in order to be effective in Melo, had obvious consequences. Melo took too many shots, and made too few of them, all while continuing to punt on defense.
This takes touches away from BOTH Harden and Paul, and as a result both their individual and the team’s efficiencies plummeted. Trying to get the most out of Melo, even as a role player, meant getting less out of Harden and Paul, which was ultimately why the team released him. Things haven’t been completely fine and dandy since then, but Harden and Paul both look more like themselves and their record has returned to normal as they seem to have stabilized some.
Continuing this line of thinking, you could build a team with LeBron James, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Demarcus Cousins, and that team would not be able to get the best out of each of those guys; their needs overlap far too much. That team might still be plenty good, as they just have too many good players to not be, but you wouldn’t be able to get the best out of all of those guys. I’d argue 2 of the 4 at most.
Thankfully, the Sixers aren’t in that position.
Their 3 guys in Butler, Simmons, and Embiid are flexible enough and have complementary tool-kits to not only play them all simultaneously, but also get as much out of all 3 of them as possible. In this 3-part series, I’ll investigate the ways in which the Philadelphia 76ers can maximize the value and performance of each of these guys, while still coexisting with or even boosting the performance of the others. I hope to get the first installment out soon, so keep on the lookout for that. Until then have a good day and TTP!