After a hard-fought, competitive series against the Boston Celtics, the Sixers brass will have to focus on offseason duties a bit earlier than expected. The five-game series loss to infamous division rivals will certainly sting throughout the organization, as they had greater aspirations, but it was a season to be immensely proud of.
The Sixers crawled their way out of the cellar of the Eastern conference and played at a level that demanded the respect of every opponent they faced- whether it was at home or on the road. Superstar center Joel Embiid earned his first all-star selection (and start). Ben Simmons proved EXACTLY why the former No.1 overall pick drew comparisons to LeBron James and Magic Johnson during his time at LSU. Dario Saric stepped up in a major way as he carved out a larger role in his sophomore campaign. And Brett Brown, though not without his fair share of naysayers, proved to be amongst the upper echelon of head coaches in the NBA. The 2017-18 season definitely didn’t end on a high note, but it was a productive campaign that the young Sixers- and the fans- should be proud of.
With the trials and tribulations of last season now behind them, Philly will now focus on building a Finals contender over the summer. The opportunities are seemingly endless, as the Sixers possess two first rounders in the upcoming draft, a ton of cap space, and one of the best young cores in the league. They are already amongst the best teams in the East, and with the right offseason decisions could be the best team by
the start of next season. In a preview of sorts, I’ll highlight the Sixers likely plan of attack for the upcoming offseason.
2018 NBA Draft
I’m not going to dive too deep into this one because I have a mock draft article debuting soon, but the Sixers are in an enviable situation in the upcoming draft. After finishing as the third seed in the Eastern conference, the Sixers may be on the cusp of adding yet another top ten talent to the roster. As a result of a past trade, the Sixers own the Los Angeles Lakers selection IF the pick falls outside of the 2-5 range in the NBA draft. If it falls out of the aforementioned range and is acquired by Philly, the Sixers must capitalize and add a player who is ready to contribute right away, but also has a high ceiling. With Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in town the Sixers probably won’t be drafting at the top of the order very often going forward, so it’s imperative that they hit a home run if they land the LA pick.
In addition to acquiring a potential top ten pick, the team also possesses the rights to their own draft pick- slotted at 26th overall. While this pick won’t necessarily be the difference maker of whomever they could snag with the Lakers pick, late first round picks still hold plenty of value and could pay huge dividends down the road. But I’ll keep my mouth shut on the matter until my mock draft piece:
In addition to Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James, the Sixers have also been linked to free agent forward Paul George. HC Brett Brown publicly expressed his desire to bring another star to the City of Brotherly Love and claims that one may be the missing link to a championship:
Brett Brown spoke today on adding a high-level free agent to the roster to take the team to the next level.
Who should the Sixers bring in? pic.twitter.com/gag2mwMco2
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 11, 2018
The Sixers certainly have the cap space to add a superstar caliber player- as well as the flexibility to free up more money if needed- so it’s not at all surprising to see them capitalize on their speedy rebuild and try to make a run at a ring next season. Among LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George, I think Paul George is the best fit for the team.
James, although all-time great, is 33 years old and doesn’t always give 110% on the defensive end. Kawhi Leonard is a lot younger and is a much better defensive player, but the Sixers would likely have to part ways with Saric, Fultz, as well as draft capital to acquire him- depleting their depth. While Kawhi may very well be worth the price, I think signing Paul George and keeping Saric and Fultz in Philly is a much better option.
George is an excellent defender, largely due to his incredible length and athleticism, and one of the best scorers in the league. He’s basically the living embodiment of everything they wish Robert Covington was and would no doubt give the Sixers a legitimate chance at winning it all next year.
The Sixers should also see if they can bring back the likes of JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli, and Ersan Ilyasova, as they were all huge contributors to the Sixers success
this season. The team is also rumored to be ready to bring draft-and-stash prospect Jonah Bolden stateside join the Sixers, which I think would be a wise decision:
Probably the most underrated aspect of the upcoming Sixers offseason is the development of their players. It may seem easy to just sign a superstar player and wait for the NBA Finals victory parade, but the current Sixers are going to have to improve if the team is serious about becoming a contender. Everyone needs to be training hard this offseason (obviously, they’re professional athletes), but there are three key developments I’d love to see this summer:
- Robert Covington improves his ball handling and overall offensive game
- Ben Simmons develops a reliable jumper
- Markelle Fultz gets healthy and proves why he was the No.1 pick
If these three things come to fruition and the Sixers land one (or two) of the big name superstars they are targeting, I see no reason why the Sixers don’t have just a good a chance as any to represent the Eastern conference in the Finals next year. This offseason is sure to be an exciting one in Philly- one that if done correctly, could even earn Bryan Colangelo a bit of praise.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports