Over the past few weeks, some people within the NBA community have suggested that LeBron James should sign with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2018. According to HoopsHype.com, retired NBA player Brian Scalabrine recently stated that Philadelphia is the best landing spot for him; ” because that team already has players who can shoot. Plus, he’d be able to play off Simmons and Embiid”. Although Philadelphia seems to be an excellent landing spot for LeBron, that is not necessarily the case.
Throughout the past seven seasons, teams who obtained the services of Lebron have incorporated an offensive system; that is meant to showcase his ability to pass the ball and get to the basket. As a result, he usually walks the ball up until the three-point line and evaluates how the defenders are positioned. For instance, if a defender is playing off of a three-point shooter, he is supposed to pass the ball to the wide-open shooter. On the other hand, if all the defenders are staying close to their man he is expected to evaluate the size of his defender. If the defender is smaller than him, he should post up in the mid to low block and back him down until he can to a spot where he can shoot a jumper. But if his defender is the same size as him he should use his speed and strength to get around him to attack the basket. However, there will be some instances where the defense will collapse on him, and he should pass the ball to the perimeter for the wide open three. Furthermore, on occasion, the team will break out some different sets within their playbook to prevent from becoming a predictable offense. For example, the team may have LeBron act like he is going to post up at the free throw line and have him pass the ball to a teammate doing a backdoor cut to the basket.
Due to this, the 76ers would have to surround LeBron with players who can catch and shoot or know how to move without the ball. Unfortunately, both of these skill sets nullify Ben Simmons’s best attribute; Simmons has been described as a player who possesses exceptional court vision and passing skills as well as an ability to get to the basket on a consistent basis. According to DraftExpress, during his tenure at LSU, Simmons demonstrated “tremendous ball-handling and passing ability, as he has outstanding court vision… sometimes above the rim with a head of steam”. Due to this, he needs to be in an offensive system similar to that of LeBron, where he would showcase his ability to pass the ball and get to the basket.
Therefore, both of these players would need to have the ball in their hands for a significant amount of time to be effective. Due to this, they would need at least one season to figure out where everyone is supposed to be on the court and to develop chemistry. For instance, there would be many possessions in the early portions of the first season, where one player will bring the ball up the floor and hold it for the majority of the shot clock. Meanwhile, the other player is standing behind the three-point line acting as a spot-up shooter. This is because the duo will need multiple games to develop timing as to when they should move without the ball and where to end up. Unfortunately, neither LeBron James or Ben Simmons can be productive in the spot-up shooter role; because they have a below average shooting percentage from behind the arc. According to Basketball-Reference, LeBron has a career three-point shooting percentage of 34.2 percent, while Ben is shooting 0 percent. Consequently, opposing teams will leave the shooter wide open and use the extra defender to provide help defense.
In conclusion, LeBron James shouldn’t sign with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2018 because of floor spacing issues that will present themselves when he and Ben Simmons are playing together.