First of all, for the Sixers faithful out there..let's do this the right way and set the mood.
(credit for the video to RoundballDaily.com)
Now that we've got your attention, let's get right into it. It was an offseason of uncertainty for Sixers fans. Philadelphia went into the summer with a couple of big decisions to make. The first was figuring out the Jimmy Butler situation. While Sixers fans will have a sour taste left in their mouth for how Butler left Philly, I believe the Sixers organization did a fantastic job of getting a valuable piece for next year during the process, but we will get into that a bit later.
Here's a quick rundown of why Sixers fans should be more than excited for the upcoming year.
The Ben Simmons Leap Is Lurking
No, we are not talking about this simply based off of a viral video in which Simmons is playing pickup basketball during the offseason and shooting jumpers. BUT, we are buying Ben Simmons stock off of the fact that he should have finally realized that if he develops any type of jump shot, then the NBA better prepare themselves for a whole new monster. I don't care if you're not a Ben Simmons fan, but the truth is that if Simmons develops an outside shot AT ALL, his game will take a massive leap forward in his progression. Simmons is one of the more special talents in the NBA. There's no denying it. His combination of ball-handling and court vision at 6'10" make him one of the more unique threats in the entire league. We as NBA fans DESERVE to have Simmons rolling at full capacity. It could make him one of the more special players in the game.
Tobias Harris Finally Has a Home
Jump on the train and while some might question whether Tobias Harris was worth the money he got, I believe it was the right move for this team moving forward. Harris has been a bit of a journeyman throughout his career. It's been one of the more confusing aspects while following the NBA over recent years. Why couldn't Harris stay in one spot for an extended period of time? Harris was constantly on the move, but no more. Tobias finally has found a team to take the leap of faith and he's one of the more underrated "glue" guys in this league. Harris offers this team a great amount of flexibility as well as offensive firepower. Some might argue that Jimmy Butler was the way to go, but I love the Sixers for locking down a versatile talent like Tobias.
The Al Horford Signing
Let's get it out of the way...Yes, the Sixers don't have to worry about Horford guarding Embiid anymore. Classic NBA Offseason humor. In all seriousness, this one was a bit out of nowhere, but I love the move by the Sixers franchise. The fit is going to be interesting when Horford plays alongside Embiid. For everyone wondering if this will work we hear you loud and clear. There's potential for this to be an awkward fit, but if any type of player can make it work...Al Horford is that type of player. There's a reason that Boston Celtics fans were crushed by Horford leaving town. The veteran big man is one of the more underrated defensive players in this league and has a great amount of versatility to his game offensively. Horford should develop into a masterful pick and pop option with this Sixers team and when Joel Embiid has some rest nights, he's going to be a perfect option to replace Embiid in the starting lineup.
Intriguing Pieces & Depth
LOVE the addition of Josh Richardson by the Sixers, and they got themselves a nice piece with Jimmy Butler leaving town. Richardson is an absolute dog. In just his 4th year in the league, Richardson enjoyed a career-best 16.6 PPG, jumping from 12.9 in his previous season. In 3 of his 4 years in the league, Richardson has averaged more than 1.0 steals per game as well. Richardson does a great job, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Here are his defensive rankings via Synergy for his last year with the Miami Heat.
An under the radar piece in this Sixers rotation will be second-year guard Shake Milton. The combo guard spent most of his rookie year developing in the G-League and put up some very nice numbers for the Delaware Blue Coats. Milton has great size for a combo guard, standing at 6'6" and showcases a good feel for the game. In 27 games with the Blue Coats, Milton went on to average 24.9 PTS, 4.8 REB, 5.3 AST, 1.3 STL, while shooting 48.4% from the field and 36.7% from 3.
|Ben Simmons||Josh Richardson||Tobias Harris||Al Horford||Joel Embiid|
|Shake Milton||Zhaire Smith||James Ennis III||Mike Scott||Kyle O'Quinn|
|Raul Neto||Matisse Thybulle||Jonah Bolden|
This Sixers team can become more of a force if they get some big contributions from some of their "raw" young pieces including last years first-round pick Zhaire Smith and this year's selection Matisse Thybulle. Smith enjoyed a nice Summer League, in which he went on to average 12.4 PTS, 3.0 REB, 2.6 AST, 1.4 STL, and shot 48% from the field. There will be plenty of opportunities for Zhaire to carve out a role off of the bench for this team.
Matisse Thybulle showed plenty of flashes in Summer League as well, but I expect him to go through some growing pains in his first year. If Thybulle can click and make an impact quicker than expected, I believe it will be because of his potential on the defensive side of the ball. Thybulle was an elite defender in the PAC-12 for the Washington Huskies over his career and even went on to break Gary Payton's All-Time record for steals. The knock with Thybulle is he spent a lot of time in college in a Zone system at Washington, but his anticipation skills on the defensive side of the ball are rare.
Key role players will have to step up as well including the "Threegional Manager" Mike Scott (Shoutout Mike Scott Hive) and James Ennis III. Both players should take a nice step forward in their second season with the club and knowing exactly what the team will expect out of them.
On paper, this Sixers team has the potential to be a fun one. They have the ability to give the Milwaukee Bucks, last years top dog, a run for their money to take possession of the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. But things will need to align perfectly for Philadelphia to become the team we all think they can be. The bench and overall depth will need to step up and obviously, it will be interesting to see how the big guy (Joel Embiid) does with his health for another year. At the end of the day, it's all going to come down to if Ben Simmons takes a step forward in his development.