The Sixers recently hired former Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse to replace Doc Rivers in their quest to win a championship. Nurse is known as both a tactician and a creative, and innovative coach who was hired to help get the 76ers out of the second round and closer to a championship.
Nurse is known for being a coach who is hard on his players but can get the most out of his roster. The Sixers’ roster for next season is in flux with a few major free-agent decisions that need to be made. Which players will benefit the most from Nick Nurse leading the 76ers?
With Joel Embiid coming off a dominant MVP season, he still is the player who should benefit from Nurse’s hiring. Embiid proved that he is an MVP-caliber player winning the 2022-23 Kia NBA MVP, beating out Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Sixers’ big-man had an amazing year but began to fizzle some in the playoffs after he sprained his MCL. Before he was injured in the first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets, he was double and triple-teamed aggressively, which took him out of his offensive rhythm. Although he made the right plays the majority of the time, some of his decisions and turnovers still plagued him in the most inopportune moments.
Nick Nurse has a history of deploying crazy defensive schemes to stop Embiid and is the perfect candidate to help prepare him for everything he may face. Nurse also has an innovative mind and can help Joel take the next steps offensively, whether that be free him up more in dribble handoffs or just creatively providing spaces for him to attack one on one.
It is clear that Embiid will need to evolve into an even better player for this team to win a championship and Nurse can unlock that potential.
Tyrese Maxey went from a rookie who wasn’t counted on to contribute much, to a player who is integral to the Sixers’ future. Maxey has made massive strides each summer to improve his game and will be counted on to take another leap.
With James Harden’s status with the 76ers up in the air, the 76ers could need Maxey to make another leap in order for them to stay in contention.
Nurse was asked how he could help Maxey take that next step and specifically said he wanted to focus on Maxey’s development as a playmaker. He wants to put him in more pick and rolls and be able to make reads and make his teammates better. Nurse has helped develop Fred Vanvleet into a good two-way guard even though he is undersized. Maxey stands to really benefit from the new coaching regime.
Paul Reed is a restricted free agent this summer but has said he would like to return to the Sixers. Reed seems like the prototypical player that Nick Nurse had while he was Raptors. He is a long and athletic forward, who can play small ball five.
Reed when given opportunities, has shown improvement on both ends of the floor. With Nurse at the helm, Reed would get backup center minutes and there is also a good chance that he could play next to Embiid. He could bring an infusion of athleticism and rebounding next to Embiid, which the Sixers really need at times.
Jalen McDaniels was acquired by the Sixers at the trade deadline in a three-team deal that included sending Matisse Thybulle to the Portland Trailblazers.
McDaniels was brought in to be a rangy and athletic wing, who could contribute on offense and although he had some bright spots during the stretch run of the season, he didn’t play much in the playoffs.
Jalen McDaniels fits the mold of players that Nurse had in Toronto. If he chose to re-sign with the Sixers, he would most likely get a ton of opportunities and be tasked to be a part of some wild defensive schemes with Nurse and his staff leading the way.
Melton has proved to be one of the best acquisitions by Daryl Morey to date. He’s turned out to be the versatile two-guard that the Sixers needed to complement both James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. Nurse’s defensive schemes could help propel Melton into one of the top defensive players in the league.
Having the right schemes and allowing Melton to game more for steals could lead to more transition opportunities for a team whose offensive comes mostly from the halfcourt. Nurse and Melton could be a match made in heaven defensively.
With the offseason approaching, Morey and Nurse will likely make changes to the roster to fit the current style of coaching and scheme. The players above stand to benefit the most from a changing of the guard and the Sixers need as much improvement as they can on the margins in order to get closer to a championship.
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