The Miami Heat miraculously rode a Cinderella story all the way to the NBA Finals. Meanwhile, the Sixers are quietly at home after getting swept by the Boston Celtics. If you told fans at the beginning of the season that this would be the result, you’d be laughed at and told you don’t watch basketball. Yet, that’s exactly how the season played out.
How did it come to this? A Sixers team with such lofty aspirations is now facing an offseason that may decide the success of the next 10 years.
This may be the last time the team can make drastic changes. They must absolutely hit on the moves they make this time or the Process will become an utter waste. But what should the new team look like? It’s too bad there’s not a blueprint to follow that matches the strengths of current stars Ben Simmons & Joel Embiid. Except, there is.
As frustrating as it is, the Miami Heat have built their team exactly the same way the Sixers should have and should even still. Their team is led by a poor shooting defensive point-forward, and one of the most versatile centers in the NBA. Take those two parts and surround them with shooting and you have what the Heat are and what the Sixers can/should be.
How would the team go about it though? Who could they add to replicate that kind of success?
From the staff to players, the Philadelphia 76ers will be revamped. The team must hit on the hires, trades, and signings to come, or else they’re destined for further mediocrity.
The Sixers’ New Head Coach
The first move the Sixers need to knock out of the park is the new head coach. As of last night, the organization has done that and knocked it out of the park.
On Monday, September 28th, it was announced that the Los Angeles Clippers and head coach Doc Rivers would be parting ways. It was a moderate surprise even though the team blew a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets. The team would have been hard-pressed to find a more decorated coach.
Doc Rivers quickly became the obvious choice for the Sixers’ vacancy. His experience exceeds any other candidate’s. From playoff success and winning an NBA championship, to managing superstar personalities on multiple occasions. Doc Rivers is an excellent choice as the Sixers’ next head coach.
One final point to note is that Tobias Harris experienced his best statistical year under Rivers. The Sixers are hoping to find some way for Harris to return to the player the Sixers traded for. Doc Rivers might just be the coach to help get him there.
The work surely won’t end after the Sixers decided on a new head coach. The team will then move on to making some roster decisions from the draft, to signing free agents, to trading away ill-fitting pieces.
Sixers’ Draft Picks
21st Overall – Tyrell Terry
Tyrell Terry has been consistently linked to the Sixers for a long, long time. On paper, he’s a perfect fit, a sniper of a guard who can handle the ball as well. He’s already interviewed with the Sixers and Terry seemed to agree with many that he’d be a great fit, specifically next to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
The news that communication between Terry and the Sixers has been great is music to the fanbase’s ears. Terry should be the Sixers’ primary target. The main question is if he will be available at 21, or if the team will have to trade up.
36th Overall – Jordan Nwora
Once again the focal point for the Sixers must be defense. The only thing second to that is the need for defense. The Sixers need to add long switchable defenders to help against the many forwards they will see on the road to the Finals.
While Jordan Nwora may not be a future DPOY award candidate, he has the size and athleticism to defend multiple positions. His shot is sure, averaging 40% on three attempts per game. Nwora would be able to contribute right away if need be, but could turn into a Trevor Ariza-like role player.
*TRADE* 41st Overall – Isaiah Joe
San Antonio Receives: The 49th and 58th Overall Picks
Philadelphia Receives: The 41st Overall Pick
If you haven’t learned by now, you might not get it, but the Sixers’ greatest need is shooting. Isaiah Joe is a dead-eye marksman that could have a huge role on the Sixers a few years down the road.
There are reasons Joe would be available so late. He’s a 21-year-old sophomore, he was inefficient, and he can do little else but shoot. The bones are there though for a long NBA career if he can just be more selective with his shot.
Jeff Teague – One Year/$5,718,000
The Sixers need a guard who can handle the ball but can also thrive without it. Goran Dragic is that player. Unfortunately, Dragic is not likely leaving the Heat. Even if he does, he’ll likely be out of the Sixers’ price range, especially after making the Finals.
Jeff Teague is a cheap alternative to Dragic. Entering the twilight of his career, Teague can still be relied upon to knock down the open shot, drive to the basket a couple of times a game and kick the ball out when the opportunity presents itself.
After finishing the season on the Atlanta Hawks’ bench, Teague likely won’t have suitors lining up for him, meaning that a Mid-Level Exception for a contender will likely sound enticing. Teague would be able to start (though only playing 20-25 minutes) for a Sixers team looking to space-and-pace the floor.
Langston Galloway – One Year/$2,028,594
Elton Brand’s job above all else this offseason is to add quality shooters around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Langston Galloway is a near-perfect fit for the Sixers from his shooting percentage (39.9% from three) to his affordability.
Able to play both guard positions, Galloway’s versatility provides extra value for the Sixers. While not much of a defender, Galloway is at least tenacious to the point of providing quality effort. The six-year vet has long been connected to the Sixers and the time has likely come for him to return to Philly. Galloway played four seasons at Saint Joseph’s and finished as the team’s second all-time leading scorer (behind Jameer Nelson).
Meyers Leonard – One Year/$2,320,044
What better way to follow the Heat’s lead than to sign one of their own players? Leonard hasn’t been overly impressive over his career, but he has quietly become one of the top shooters among Centers. Shooting 39% from deep and 81% from the free-throw line, Leonard would certainly help a team that struggled in both of those areas. A player like Leonard could also allow Embiid some minutes of rest while allowing the offense to still function.
Defense is admittedly a concern but trading for Daniel Gafford and platooning them based on need should solve that issue.
Now, one could argue that the team’s success would cause Leonard’s value to rise. Normally, that would be true, but Leonard has not played a single minute since game three against the Milwaukee Bucks. There shouldn’t be much concern about his lack of playing time as Leonard can’t be expected to save the team in the first place.
Solomon Hill – One Year/$2,174,318
Another member of the 2020 Miami Heat, Solomon Hill is a versatile 3/D forward. He could guard positions two through four while being able to knock down an open jumper at the other end. Cheap switchable shooters like Hill are exactly what this Sixers team needs. Providing depth, shooting, and a bit of defensive ability, Hill would be another perfect fit for the Sixers.
The Sixers will obviously have to trade away some of their ill-fitting pieces to find success. It’s tough to find fair-value for a lot of the Sixers’ players based on how the season went, so they will have to add picks and take bad money back. With that said, there is an obvious team Elton Brand needs to call.
The Sixers Find Their Sniper
Sacramento Receives: Al Horford, Josh Richardson, and the Sixers’ 2021 first-round pick
Philadelphia Receives: Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes
The Sixers need for shooting is about as painfully obvious as can be. The Miami Heat have addressed that need in a plethora of ways. One way, in particular, is the addition of Duncan Robinson.
The Sixers have long been connected to the Sacramento Sniper. In Hield, the Sixers find their own sniper who can be relied upon to hit open shots as they come. A super-role-player of sorts, Hield would be able to thrive in transition with Simmons and could also open up the half-court.
Horford carries some value but not much thanks to his albatross of a contract. Josh Richardson provides the most potential value while the draft pick could provide the Kings with some future depth.
Adding Harrison Barnes to the deal is key as, similar to Horford, Barnes’ contract far exceeds his worth. What works for the Sixers though is the fit of Barnes who could transition to a 3/D power forward for the team.
The Sixers Bolster Their Rim Protection
Chicago Receives: Zhaire Smith and the 36th overall pick
Philadelphia Receives: Daniel Gafford
After shooting, the Sixers have a clear need at back-up center. Specifically, one that can help protect the rim. Daniel Gafford fills that need and does it on a cheap deal.
The 6’10” Center had an impressive year in terms of blocks. Averaging 3.3 per 36 minutes, Gafford looks to have a long career ahead of him as a shot-blocking specialist. He doesn’t add much else, but he is still very young and raw. In time, Gafford could develop into a low-end starting center but at the very least, could be a quality back-up for a long time.
The Bulls likely won’t be eager to part with Gafford but could be convinced by Smith’s long-term potential and more importantly the 36th pick. The 2020 draft is very deep in terms of role players, so you can still find talent at 36.
The Sixers Starting Lineup
With the new roster assembled, the Sixers would be ready to face the regular season with a team that is a significantly better fit than last year’s. By surrounding Embiid and Simmons with quality shooters and moving Tobias Harris back to his natural position of power forward, this Sixers lineup is one that could finally take the Sixers all the way.
Point Guard – Jeff Teague
Shooting Guard – Buddy Hield
Small Forward – Ben Simmons
Power Forward – Tobias Harris
Center – Joel Embiid
Once again, the Sixers boast one of the more impressive starting lineups in the NBA. This year, however, the lineup actually fits together. The players can feed off one another’s games. And even when a starter or two comes out, there are plenty of shooters on the bench ready to contribute.
The Sixers Bench
Isaiah Joe (two-way)
Five guards who can shoot off the bench and three of them can handle the ball. A perfect crew of guards to come off the bench for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Perhaps the Sixers look to add a higher quality talent at the deadline using Mike Scott’s contract or in the buy-out market. For now, this group can get the job done.
Jordan Nwora (two-way)
The defensive switching potential is unreal with this unit. All five players can shoot and four of them can be considered “3/D”. The Sixers would have a wonderful blend of youth and experience. Barnes would be the team’s first man off the bench with Thybulle close behind, assuming he takes a step forward. Meanwhile, Scott adds a nice veteran presence and Hill is a versatile defender with a solid jump shot.
Joel Embiid will obviously take the bulk of the minutes while there would likely be a platoon between Leonard and Gafford depending on need (shooting/rim-protecting).
The Sixers Should Learn From the Miami Heat
The formula was already clear, but now it’s been realized by another team. There is no excuse any longer. The time is now to assemble a team that fits around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
The Sixers’ have no choice but to be reactive as they waited too long while making poor decisions, but they’re not done yet. If the team decides to follow the Miami Heat’s lead when it comes to roster construction, it could easily be Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons we see in the Finals next season.
Mandatory Credit – Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire