Is Mike D’antoni the right fit for Simmons and Embiid?
Well, I guess we can forget about the major front office changes GM Elton Brand spoke on for a minute. It looks like we can only hope that will be coming along with the new head coaching hire.
You can officially add former Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’antoni to the list of candidates for the vacant Sixers job. D’antoni doesn’t appear to be just any candidate either. A league source has said the job could be D’antoni’s to lose. This source also said the 69-year old would have to bomb the interview with Sixers ownership to not be offered the job. Wait..the same ownership that isn’t set in stone? Again, let’s just focus on one thing for right now.
This seems like the most controversial of all the names that have been mentioned online over the past week or two. D’antoni’s coaching style doesn’t make any sense for the current roster construction of the Sixers. Houston under D’antoni, was primarily focused on having as many ball handlers and shooting guards on the court as possible.
I’m not kidding. The Rockets play without a freaking a center! The Sixers, as we know, deploy as many bigs and forwards as possible.
Let’s put this into perspective, the Philadelphia 76ers led by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, were 1st in the entire NBA in post-ups per game (17 avg). Meanwhile, the Rockets under D’antoni finished 29th, with only 2.2 post-ups per game. That is a HUGE difference.
Houston’s offense is very perimeter oriented. Houston finished 1st in the entire NBA this past season in three pointers attempted per game (45.5). The Sixers ranked 23rd in the league with 31.5 per game.
These things obviously don’t correlate with the makeup of the Sixers roster. However, many believe there will be significant changes to the roster this offseason. D’antoni has a proven track record of expanding and taking ball dominant players to the next level. It is very intriguing to imagine what D’antoni could do with the 6’10 freight train that is Ben Simmons.
While the fit with Joel is not very ideal. Joel may have to adapt his game to the modern NBA anyways. The Sixers need a coach that is going to demand more out of both of their star players. D’antoni could be just that guy as he has gotten the most out of guys like Steve Nash, Westbrook, Chris Paul, and most notably James Harden who has been an MVP candidate the last 4 seasons.
The last potential intriguing aspect of hiring Mike D’antoni would be the roster shakeup that he would demand. D’antoni favors the exact players that compliment Simmons and Embiid. The type of players Philly fans have been begging so desperately for: Players that can shoot and create offense.
Philadelphia is a team that has relied on modern analytics in the past. It appears Elton Brand wants to go in that direction, as he wants to bring in more basketball minds.
“I’ll take a hard look at it and assess where we need to go,” he stated. “A lot of people know we’re strong from a strategic and analytic standpoint, we’ll get some more basketball minds in here, but all options are open. We’re just looking at ways to improve our team and improve our chances and if I’m a part of that, that’s what’s going to happen.”Elton Brand
Mike D’antoni may not be the favorite among Philly fans. However, he may be just the guy the Sixers need to take both Simmons and Embiid’s games to the next level, as well as help bring in the perfect fitting players alongside of them.
I would recommend having an open mind when it comes to D’antoni in Philly.
Mandatory credit; The Athletic