STAR OF THE WEEK:
In a league where availability is the best ability Dario Saric has been both able and available for the 76ers. As Ben Simmons continues to play under the rookie microscope and Joel Embiid continues to not play, in an effort to avoid the microscope, Dario remains able and steady.
The forward put together a strong week of numbers (14.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists), despite the team’s 1 – 2 week. The Croatian’s most efficient game came in a 112 – 108 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The 76ers’ forward netted 14 points and snatched eight rebounds.
However, Saric’s most impressive effort came in a triple overtime 119 – 117 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Down by five in regulation Dario hit a huge three-pointer to bring the team within two. Philadelphia eventually sent the game into overtime before succumbing. The big man was active throughout the entire contest. The upcoming week features back-to-back contests against the Toronto Raptors. Saric will need to duplicate his effort and exceed his production if Philly are to win at least one of those games.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Most observers did not view Dario Saric as a legitimate deep shooting threat for Philadelphia when the season commenced. Much to their surprise the sharpshooting forward has become one of the more reliable three-point shooters on the team. The forward is third on the squad in made three-point field goals and has hit a trey in 24 of 32 games.
When the 76ers signed J.J. Redick this offseason and re-signed Robert Covington during the season, it appeared most if not all shots from the arc would come from those two. But, Dario’s proficiency has opened things up for his teammates which at times has made the offense flow much easier. Adding the deep ball to an already potent repertoire has allowed Saric to become a more polished player.
BEN SIMMONS VS. EVERYBODY:
This week’s top rookie performer is Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz. The rookie has been explosive all season and didn’t appear to slow down this week. Mitchell’s best output came in a 103 – 100 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Rarely does a player go 1-for-7 from the three and still manage to have a good night. However, this was the case for the 13th overall pick who dropped 32 points on what most would consider an off night. For the week Mitchell shot 53 percent, while averaging 25 per.
Here are some of the other top rookie performers for the week:
ANSWERING THE CALL – A.I.’s ROOKIE YEAR
It has been exactly 20 seasons since Hall-of-Fame guard Allen Iverson first blessed the NBA hardwood and ignited the city of Philadelphia. From the moment the Virginia native donned a Philadelphia 76ers uniform fans everywhere had a feeling Iverson was special and their basketball prayers were finally answered.
The organization struggled mightily through five consecutive losing seasons before selecting the six foot powerhouse out of Georgetown, first overall. It appears the franchise has found another transcendent player, in first year “guard” Ben Simmons. Oddly enough this year’s prized rookie guard hits the court after yet another five consecutive losing seasons.
As spectators enjoy the greatness and infancy stages of Simmons’ career, it is hard to forget the last time Philly had something (or someone) this special to root for. So while we partake in the now, it is impossible to not reminisce the before.
Still Shining & Still Struggling
To say Philly was struggling is an understatement. The 76ers were in the midst of a 10 game losing streak before finally hitting pay dirt in 118 – 89 win in Denver against the Nuggets. Allen Iverson put on a show, shooting 13-for-19 and handing out six assists with zero turnovers. The success and production was short lived for the guard. The team was 1 – 12 in the month of December.
Iverson would go a combined 13 – 40 in the next two games and that line doesn’t seem to do his struggle justice. In Utah A.I. went a paltry 5 – 22 and 1 – 8 from the arc. The Jazz defense stifled the pup. The Sixers were in need of a jolt, but things would continue to decline.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: