The Philadelphia 76ers are coming off of one their best seasons in recent team history and finally gave Philly fans something to cheer about. After 3 years of terrible losing in order to get top draft picks, the Sixers’ tanking strategy seemed to work last season. The team, led by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons won over 50 games and landed the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. This, all without lottery pick Markelle Fultz for the majority of the season. Although the Sixers lost to the Sixers in the semi-finals last season, the season could be counted as a success. Even though they lost out on the free agent campaign to sign LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard, the Sixers still have a solid young core and have made some adjustments for this upcoming season.
Player Personnel Moves
Marco Belinelli– Acquired in February after he cleared waivers from the Hawks, Belinelli played a nice role coming off the bench for Philadelphia. In 28 games for the Sixers, he averaged 13.6 ppg during the regular season. During the playoffs, he averaged 12.9 ppg. The Sixers will definitely miss his shooting ability coming off the bench at the shooting guard spot. Marco will be playing for the Spurs next season on a two-year deal.
Ersan Ilyasova– Another guy who played a nice role off the bench for the Sixers, Ilyasova was signed to the team in late February. Ersan had also played on the Hawks earlier that season just like Belinelli. In 23 games with the Sixers Ersan put up just over 10 points and 6 rebounds per game. He also provided solid scoring during the playoffs at about 9.3 ppg. Ilyasova will be taking his talents to Milwaukee next season.
Amir Johnson– Johnson was more of a lunch pail player for the Sixers last season so it made sense why the Sixers resigned him. He averaged just over 4 points and 4 rebounds per game. What Johnson provides also is a veteran presence in the locker room. At this point, the Sixers have one of the youngest rosters in the league and some interesting personalities to g o along with them. As a seasoned veteran, Johnson can serve as a calming presence.
J.J. Redick– After 12 years in the league, Redick is still regarded as one of the best 3 point shooters in the league. So it only made sense that the Sixers resigned him to a 1yr deal worth $23M. Last season he averaged just over 17 ppg while shooting a smooth 42% from 3 point range. Redick serves as the team’s 3 point threat and makes it possible to spread the floor on offense when he’s in the game.
Mike Muscala– The most recent of the Sixers acquisitions, Muscala was brought in as part of a three-team trade between the Sixers, Hawks and, Thunder which ultimately saw Carmelo Anthony going to the Hawks. Muscala, drafted in 2013 has spent his entire career with the Hawks. He had his best season as a pro last year averaging 7.6ppg and 4.3rbg. His numbers aren’t flashy but he is solid on the defensive end of the ball. It is worth noting that Muscala is on the record as not being the biggest fan of the Sixers. In a podcast interview, he shared how he thought they trash talked too much, especially Joel Embiid. It will be interesting to see if the two can work out their differences before the season starts.
Front Office Moves
One of the first things the Sixers did once they were eliminated from the playoffs was to give head coach Brett Brown a contract extension through the 2021-2022 season. Brown has been the Sixers since 2013, which was right at the dawn of former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie 3 year tanking process. Brown has stuck through arguably the darkest time in the franchise’s history and last season was finally able to see the fruits of his labor. It’s a good move by the Sixers extending Brett, especially since he was the one who coached most of these young players through the tanking process. There’s a chemistry there that would have been broken if a new coach was brought in. Now Brown isn’t the perfect coach. During the playoffs as he was completely out-coached by Brad Stevens, which, isn’t a terrible thing seeing as Stevens is one of the best coaches in the league. But it was a learning experience for a coach who, to no fault of his own, had only known losing. With Brown at the helm, the Sixers at least have some stability on the coaching front.
Probably one of the craziest stories of the NBA offseason was Bryan Colangelo and the burner account saga. It was discovered by a journalist during the NBA playoffs that some twitter accounts were displaying unusual activity. Now the burner account thing was already an interesting topic, especially after Kevin Durant’s whole burner account situation. This situation was a little bit more complex. The burner accounts that were being used not only defended Colangelo and all his front office moves but also seemed to have information that only someone in Colangelo’s position would have. The accounts only followed executives and certain people within the Sixers’ organization as well as a few outside of it. After more digging, it was figured out that the accounts were connected to Colangelo and his wife. Colangelo resigned as the team’s GM in June.
This offseason may not be seen as a bust, but it wouldn’t be categorized as a complete success either. The Sixers really didn’t get much better and would still be considered the second-best team in the east. The team still doesn’t have a GM which could’ve played a part in the failed attempt to bring LeBron or Kawhi to Philly. However, this is a franchise moving in the right direction and should be competitive for years to come.