Coming into this season, the first game between the Lakers and 76ers was going to be a must watch to see three of the most talented rookies in the NBA. One of those rookies is out, but you can still tune in to see Los Angeles’ Lonzo Ball and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons meet up at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (live stream).
The Lakers’ star rookie point guard, Lonzo Ball, has struggled this season, only scoring in double digits in four out of his first 14 games. Meanwhile, LA is 6-8 to start the season, and some of the early excitement that surrounded the team has waned due to the struggles. Following Ball’s lead, the Lakers are in the bottom half of the league when it comes to scoring. They are the worst three-point shooting team in league, shooting a paltry 30.2 percent. Only Jordan Clarkson and Brook Lopez shoot at or above the league average of 36 percent.
The Sixers are the fifth-best three-point shooting teams in the league at 38.8 percent. They owe this success to their ball movement, averaging 26.3 assists per game, good for fourth in the league. Plenty of these assists are coming from Ben Simmons, who so far looks like the best rookie in the league. Simmons is averaging 17.8 points, 7.5 assists, and 9.2 rebounds per game, all while shooting 49.7 percent from the field. He has reinvigorated the Sixers’ offense and has proved a potent combination with Joel Embiid. The Sixers have been good to start this season, but they need Embiid to stay healthy.
Time, TV Channel, and streaming info:
- Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles
- TV: ESPN
- Stream: WatchESPN.com
- Odds: The Sixers are 4-point favorites.
Sixers vs Lakers news:
- The Sixers haven’t had an All-Star since 2012-2013. As long as health doesn’t get in the way they could have multiple all stars this year.
I actually had this conversation with my brother - and briefly with Kyle Neubeck - two nights ago. The way this season is looking, the answer to the second part of the question is “definitely.” Joel Embiid was about as close to being an All-Star as you can be last year, so you’d think he’s a shoo-in as long as his numbers are relatively close to what they were last year. And he’s not a rookie anymore, that’s two pluses for JoJo.
BUT, if Ben Simmons keeps playing the way he’s playing, it feels like there’s no way he can be kept out of the All-Star Game. 17.4/9/7.8 on close to 50% shooting is an All-Star resume. Add his rookie status (in this case, assuming Ben doesn’t miss time with injury, it’s actually a plus), the hype, the story, and the fact that the only person to start a career the way Ben has is basically Oscar Robertson, then he has to be an All-Star.
I don’t mean he needs time to figure it out during the season, I mean he literally needs playing time. Looking at how he fares when he plays a certain amount of minutes this season and on his career, there are drastic differences. All stats below in per-36 form to make them comparable:
30+ minutes: 18.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 46.2% FG, 43.5% 3pt, 61.1% TS
20-29 minutes: 16.7 pts, 8.8 reb, 36.5% FG, 41.7% 3pt, 48.1% TS
10-19 minutes: 9.4 pts, 6,7 reb, 27.3% FG, 20% 3pt, 31.8% TS
- Lonzo Ball became the youngest player ever to achieve a triple-double, beating out LeBron James by five days while playing one of his most complete games of the year.
The headlines across the NBA lands over the weekend all echo the same booming words: Lonzo Ball triple-double. That he beat the old record, held by LeBron James, by a mere five days only adds to the intrigue.
“They like to blitz a lot of those high picks, and Lonzo's got great court vision, so he was reading it. A couple times they went under and he made some threes when they did that,”
- The best Lakers rookie to date has been Kyle Kuzma, who has been one of the most unexpected surprises this season.
His first NBA start came against the team that traded him away on draft night, the Brooklyn Nets. Once again, the talk going into the evening revolved around D’Angelo Russell, but once again, Kuzma forced a change of narrative. Kuzma exploded for 21 points and 13 rebounds while shooting 72.7 percent from the field. As a part of the starting lineup, Kuzma has averaged 36.5 minutes, 14.3 points and ten rebounds.
Will the Lakers be able to guard the potent Sixers’ offense?
The Sixers have been the 10th-best offense in the league, so the Lakers will have to work hard to stop a Sixers team that loves to pass the ball. To do that, they’ll need to figure out how to defend Embiid, an extremely tough matchup for Lopez. If Embiid goes off for a big game, it will be an extremely long night for the Lakers. If the Lakers want to beat the Sixers, they’ll have to stop Philadelphia’s young stars from getting hot.
Sixers vs Lakers prediction:
The Sixers are young team ready to compete now, and the Lakers are a young team looking to figure out who they are. The Lakers will look to course correct after losing three of their last four games. The Sixers are 4-2 in November and looking to make the playoffs this season. The two diverging paths of these teams is indicative how this game will play out with the Sixers securing a win over the Lakers. The Lakers are too young and not playing great basketball, while the Sixers are showing more and more that they have an identity and that they’re ready to win.