While league executives scrambled for roster stability in an all-out frenzy of sorts shortly before one of the more memorable NBA trade deadline days in recent memory, it was freshly-minted Sixers GM Elton Brand that remained calm under pressure. With his team sitting fifth in the suddenly loaded Eastern Conference, Brand refused to become complacent and allow them to fall any further behind. If the Sixers wanted any shot at a title, or even an eastern conference finals appearance, upgrades would need to be made immediately.
A couple dozen late-night phone calls, clever negotiating tactics, and four trades later- the Sixers have their upgrades.
Following a slew of moves the Sixers have acquired a haul headlined by Tobias Harris, Jonathan Simmons, Boban Marjanovic, James Ennis, and a 2020 first-round pick. In the 48 hours preceding the NBA trade deadline, Brand single-handedly elevated the Sixers from in-the-mix for Eastern conference supremacy to firmly in the driver’s seat. Take a bow, Elton, take a bow.
Of course, upgrading the roster didn’t come without a price, as the Sixers had to pony up a couple first-round selections and 2017 first overall pick Markelle Fultz to get the deals done. Still, a couple late first rounders and an injury-riddled player is a small price to pay for a shot at championship glory.
Now, after one of the most active deadline days in franchise history, the Sixers tout one of the deadliest starting lineups in the entire NBA:
Sixers starting lineup is a force to be reckoned with:
Simmons: 17.0 PPG | 9.4 RPG | 8.0 APG | 57% FG
Redick: 18.3 PPG | 38% 3PT
Butler: 19.5 PPG | 4.9 RPG | 2.1 STL | 48% FG |
Harris: 20.9 PPG | 7.9 RPG | 50% FG | 43% 3PT
Embiid: 27.4 PPG | 13.5 RPG | 48% FG
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) February 6, 2019
The dynamic starting five already flashed potential in an impressive team effort victory over the surging, No.2 seeded Denver Nuggets. All five starters scored at least 12 points- the fourth time this season the team has accomplished said feat- and seemed to be unstoppable at times throughout the game. Extraordinarily, they did this despite MVP and DPOY candidate Joel Embiid being under the weather with an illness.
Brett Brown’s recently-invented game-breaking starting five weren’t without their hiccups, as one would expect from such freshly-minted group, but performed admirably in their debut together. Continued practice and experience together will only improve the quinary as the season goes on, and they should be duly-equipped for battle by the time the playoffs are upon us. In fact, Brand reflected this sentiment in a press conference appearance on Friday:
“I’d be disappointed for sure if we didn’t get to the Eastern Conference Finals,” #Sixers GM Elton Brand.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) February 8, 2019
This newfound sense of confidence in the Sixers championship prospects, of course, is the fruit of Brand’s labor. The job the first-year general manager is doing is simply remarkable and shouldn’t get lost in the all the buzz surrounding the roster. While the sky-high expectations are worth praising, it’s important to remember how the team got to this point- and, more notably, just how close the team came to never reaching their current status.
When Brand accepted the position the Sixers were stocked full of potential, yet on the verge of spiraling out of control. Nothing short of a media circus at the time, the Sixers were drowning in controversy shortly before Brand was brought on. Hidden injuries, botched trades, burner Twitter accounts- you name it. From top to bottom the Sixers were spiraling out of control and completely lacked stability off the court.
Fortunately, Brand delivered exactly that when he was hired just four short months ago. A mastermind with a master plan, Brand executed his agenda swiftly and without flaw. As a result, the Sixers are an undeniable threat to dethrone the seemingly annual NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Brand’s name should be commonplace atop the short list for Executive of the Year candidates among the voting committee. Brand has completely exceeded expectations and now has the Sixers in position to do the same. Winning the award would make him the first general manager to do so in their first season in charge, as well as the first 76ers general manager to take home the honors. Although his unprecedented qualifications may cause
some voters to pause, Brand should absolutely be named Executive of the Year for his impressive debut season.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports