The 76ers’ Biggest Strength Has Curiously Morphed Into Their Most Glaring Weakness
It’s no secret that the NBA is a 3-point shooting league nowadays. Players are firing up more threes than ever before, and the best teams year after year consistently rank inside the top 10 in 3-point percentage.
The Philadelphia 76ers started off the year as one of the hottest shooting teams in the league from beyond the arc, but they’ve curiously morphed into one of the worst over the last month. Where did Philly’s recent 3-point woes come from, and how could it affect the team going forward?
The 76ers were lighting it up from deep to start the season
Philadelphia has been a consistent 3-point shooting team over the last few years. The 76ers have shot better than 36% from beyond the arc as a team and ranked inside the top half of the NBA in percentage in each of the last four seasons.
Through the first month of the 2021-22 campaign, the Sixers were on pace to have their best outside shooting season in recent memory. Philly ranked second in the league behind only the Brooklyn Nets in 3-point percentage (38.3%) over the first 14 games played.
Seth Curry looked like the most automatic sniper in the NBA, Joel Embiid was having the best 3-point shooting season of his career, and the offense seemed to flow just fine without Ben Simmons in the lineup.
But the 76ers have done a complete 180 since their hot start to the year.
The Sixers have morphed into an atrocious 3-point shooting team
The Sixers seemingly couldn’t miss from deep in the first month of the season, but now they can’t buy a bucket. Philadelphia is shooting just 31.2% from three since November 16, which would rank 29th in the NBA right now. Due to their puzzling shooting struggles, the Sixers have plummeted from second to 16th in the league in 3-point percentage.
As of December 16, not a single player on the roster is shooting 40% or better from beyond the arc. Curry leads the team with a 39.4% clip on 5.3 attempts per game.
Over that same span, the 76ers have gone 7-8 and have scored fewer than 100 points in seven of those 15 games. Philadelphia is now 3-10 this year when they shoot worse than 33% from deep.
Something has to change soon.
A concerning regression that spells serious trouble
It would be one thing if the 76ers shot the three-ball poorly all season with Simmons not around to set up open shooters, but they proved early on in the year they can be a top shooting team in the league. Now, they’re one of the worst, and that’s not good news for this team going forward.
During Wednesday night’s embarrassing loss to the undermanned Miami Heat, Erik Spoelstra ran a zone defense for almost the entire game, and the Sixers finished shooting 12-of-37 from deep. They only scored 96 points in the contest, and Embiid had just 17.
Don’t be surprised if more teams start to implement zone defenses against Philly. If they can’t turn their shooting woes around, the 76ers could be in serious trouble the rest of the season.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.