A near-perfect offseason offers hope for the Sixers’ upcoming season

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Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers speaks with Danuel House after practice on the first day of Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball training camp at the McAlister Field House on the campus of The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Heather Khalifa/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

The Philadelphia 76ers had the best offseason in the entire NBA, and it isn’t even close. For the first time in years, the Sixers didn’t try to reinvent themselves through free agency.

There was no star hunting, no overpaying for big men who didn’t want to be here and, there weren’t any massive trade scenarios happening or any drama around resigning impending free agents. For the first time in a long time, the Sixers just improved around their core of James Harden, Joel Embiid, and Tyrese Maxey.

The Sixers were an excellent team last year, with their biggest flaw being the lack of a bench. Instead of trying to add another superstar, Daryl Morey, Elton Brand, and the rest of the Sixers organization focused on improving said bench. They set out to add the best compliments to the star trio of James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Joel Embiid.

Philadelphia’s first major move of the offseason happened on draft night. The 76ers swung a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, sending the 23rd pick (David Roddy) and an injured Danny Green in order to land 3&D guard De’Anthony Melton, an incredible defender with above-average shooting numbers.

The 23-year-old shooting guard is coming off of setting a career-high in points (10.8 per game) while shooting 37.8% from the three-point line. Next up, thanks to James Harden taking a massive pay cut, the Sixers turned their eyes towards free agency, where two former Rockets wings were eligible for new contracts.

P.J. Tucker was the first target for Philadelphia in free agency. Tucker spent last season on the Miami Heat and the year before that, on the championship-winning Milwaukee Bucks, showing how much he truly affects winning. Before that, he was a core member of the James Harden and Daryl Morey Houston Rockets for nearly half of a decade.

While Tucker is most well known for being an incredible defensive menace, last season for the Heat showed flashes of a three-point resurgence. Tucker has always been a solid three-point shooter. He shot 36.5% from three during his time with the Rockets. However, over the past two seasons, he has upped that percentage.

In Milwaukee, Tucker shot 39.4% from deep on 1.7 three-pointers attempted per game. In Miami, he raised the bar on both of those statistics, shooting 41.5%(!) from deep on 2.7(!) threes attempted per game. If this is the new normal for Tucker, then the Sixers’ three-year, $30 million deal will end up being a steal for Philadelphia.

Following that signing, the Sixers gave a two-year, 8.5 million dollar contract to another former Rockets swingman, Danuel House Jr. House played three full years in Houston after bouncing around on both Phoenix and Washington. After proving himself in the G-League, the Rockets gave him a chance to be a significant role player in Houston.

Last year, House played for three teams in Houston, New York, and Utah but only really got to show what he could do in Utah.

In Utah, House averaged 6.8 points per game while shooting 41.5% from deep. He showed the entire league that he is still a super valuable piece to any contending NBA teams as he played around 20 minutes a game for a 49-win Utah team last season.

Finally, Morey rounded out his free agency by signing Montrezl Harrell. A former Sixth Man of the Year, Trez was dealing with legal problems this offseason, which is why he didn’t get a contract earlier in the year. Now that his legal issues are out of the way, the Sixers jumped on him in free agency, recruiting him to be a massive piece of the bench unit here in Philadelphia.

Harrell was first a member of the Houston Rockets until he was traded to the Clippers for Chris Paul. In LA, and under current head coach Doc Rivers, Harrell blossomed into an incredible 6th man, averaging a career-high 18.6 points per game in his final season for the Clippers.

Since Harrell’s success with the Clippers, he bounced around from the Lakers to the Wizards and, most recently, the Hornets. Last season, with the Hornets and the Wizards, Harrell averaged 13.1 points per game on 64.5% shooting from the field.

Never have the Embiid-Era Sixers focused so intently on keeping their core together and adding depth as they did this year. Adding P.J. Tucker to the starting lineup while adding De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House Jr., and Montrezl Harrell to the bench can not be understated. Philadelphia had a championship-level starting five last season.

Adding so many excellent bench options while still retaining nearly every other key rotation player from last season is just another example of how wonderful a job President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey has done.

The Sixers had the best offseason in the NBA. Early results have even shown in the first preseason game. Hopefully, that will show even more in this upcoming season.

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