How the Sixers can succeed without a pure shooter on the roster

The Philadelphia 76ers have not been a team that launches threes. They focus on running the offense primarily through Joel Embiid, whether it be in the low post or near the perimeter. Last season, the Sixers ranked 19th in the NBA for three-point attempts (30.2), and the season before that they ranked 12th (29.8).

Former Sixers guard JJ Redick signed with the New Orleans Pelicans this offseason, and Redick is one of the best shooters of his generation.

But as Philly prepares for this season, coach Brett Brown spoke at a media luncheon Wednesday about how he is not concerned when it comes to the Sixers potentially lacking shooting.

“I think that we have lots of people that are capable,” said Brown on Wednesday at a media luncheon. “Do we feel comfortable if Joel(Embiid) shoots a perimeter shot? Yes. Al Horford? Yes. Mike Scott? Yes. Tobias Harris as a 4? Yes. Jonah Bolden? Yes.”

Brown referenced Josh Richardson as a capable shooter as well. Players like Richardson, Harris and Horford all have shot at least 36% from the three-point line during their careers.

The Sixers are more than capable of reaching their full potential without having a pure shooter.

Players like Richardson and Harris are multi-dimensional. Harris is good at moving without the ball, and he also plays well in transition. Richardson drives to the basket well, and he’s decent at shooting off the dribble.

Philly must focus on continuing to use Ben Simmons as the offense’s primary playmaker. Space will be there for Simmons, one of the best passers in the NBA. Harris and Richardson, both above average shooters, will be in position to make open shots with Simmons running the offense.

Though Redick provided space with his shooting, he was a liability on the defensive end. Also, he wasn’t as versatile offensively as someone like Richardson or Harris. Redick averaged a career-high eight 3-point attempts last season, and he ranked eighth in the league for the category.

Brown mentioned at the luncheon that the Sixers “will end up playing smash-mouth offense and bully-ball defense.”

It’s good the Sixers are focused on maintaining their identity. Despite the league emphasizing the three-pointer, it’s not terribly imperative for championship contenders to have a player who specializes in shooting spot-up threes.

The Golden State Warriors are an exception to this — they have two historically great shooters in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Also, their motion offense is perhaps the best offense the league has seen.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers won the title in 2016, though, some of their best three-point shooters were LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith. Each player shot at least 35% from three, and Irving shot the best at 40.5%. Smith was the purest shooter out of the trio, but he shot 35.6% on an average of 6.4 three-point attempts.

As the reigning champions, the Toronto Raptors’ closest pure shooter was Danny Green, but he didn’t perform well in the Finals. While Green shot 45.5% from three in the regular season, he shot 36.4% in the Finals.

Fred VanVleet was the Raptors’ elite shooter, shooting 40% from deep. VanVleet wasn’t really the Raptors’ designated shooter, however. He was crucial in the Raptors’ defense, helping defend the perimeter.

As the Sixers prepare for a season with title aspirations, they have a roster that offers the ability to score as well as shoot. Having a pure shooter is beneficial in the modern NBA, but it does not necessarily mean a title is on the horizon.

For the Sixers, a team that plays well in transition, sticking to their identity of driving inside and sharing the ball will be what’s necessary for them to win a championship.

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