After one game, can “The Process” continue to live up to the hype?
The Sixers opened their season last night in Washington but fans of the processfilled Capital One Arena to watch hype become reality. Wednesday marked the debuts of the last two number one overall picks, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, and the return of Joel Embiid. We also got to see JJ Redick in his new digs and we got to witness the Sixers bury former number three pick Jalil Okafor on the bench. The match-up was going to be a tough one against the star back court of the Wizards but this team showed reliance late in the game. The “FEDS” as Embiid nicknamed the core of Sixers, played extremely well. Outside of a couple of major defensive plays by the Wizards, Philadelphia could have walked out victorious. Lets look at the “FEDS.”
Fultz only played 17 minutes but he showed flashes of great vision. He had a couple of drive and scoop passes that lead to easy buckets or free throws for teammates. We will only see one assist in the box score, but the impact of his passing led to several hockey assists and free throw attempts. Now defensively, Fultz showed his youthfulness because John Wall and/or Bradley Beal would cross him up or would get him out of the play way too easily. This though is a small criticism of a player playing his first game. Also Markelle, please change your free-throw form again please…the hitch is terrible.
Embiid went over his “minute restriction” but you have to agree with Brett Brown’s decision. When you have a chance to win a ball game late, you need your best players on the court. in 26+ minutes, Embiid was effective and looked like he going to destroy any Wizard big man. There were a couple of big time pump fakes at the three point line that got Washington to jump and we can only imagine the carnage. His 18 points were mostly off of effective moves and shot fakes; his footwork was tremendous. This league definitely needs more Joel Embiid.
Dario Saric was not really an effective player in the overall game but did log 22 minutes. To Dario’s credit, he was having to guard Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre or even Marcin Gortat when Amir Johnson and Embiid were out. With this team, Saric is a better bench/role player than Nikola Mirotic (during his first few years, not the broken jaw guy this year). Plus, he has to play behind two very effective lengthy forwards in Ben Simmons and Robert Covington. Give Dario time because after last season, we have seen what he could be in this league.
Simmons’ debut was something out of a Giannis mold. Yes, I just made that comparison — Giannis Antetokounmpo is way better and has an even higher ceiling than Simmons though but I also only said ‘mold.’ The minutes leader for the Sixers at 34, Ben Simmons showed polish and his 6’10 body could prove to be too much for defenders this season. An 18 point, 10 rebound, 5 assist game is a heck of a debut. Simmons looked very smooth with the ball in his hand. Multiple times, Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre would go way under screens (hoping for a long shot) for Simmons and on a couple occasions he took the ball to the rack in minimal steps and it looked like he was gliding to the bucket for the score. Once Ben Simmons gets his jumper down, he will be the toughest Philadelphia player to guard.
Now we get to the most impactful player of last nights’ contest, Robert Covington. Folks, watch out; if Covington plays like he did last night against the Wizards, the league is in trouble. He went 7 of 11 from downtown on his way to 29 points (which led all Sixers). Covington’s ability to space the floor with veteran JJ Redick is exactly what Philly needs alongside Embiid and Simmons late in ballgames. Robert is the beneficiary of the process because while the team was tanking, he played big time minutes and was able to develop into a highly effective and efficient 3-and-D forward. Look for Covington to play a huge role in some good Philadelphia victories this year.
With the FEDS, Redick and Covington clicking, The Process could be nearing its completion as the Philadelphia 76ers show they are ready to compete but remember, this is just game one.