2018-19 Season Preview: Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers were by far the biggest surprise last season with a 52-30 winning record and securing the third seed in the Eastern Conference. This was also the year where a lot of their players had been awarded an All-Star spot (Embiid), All-Defensive (Covington) and Rookie of the Year( Simmons), with a highly motivated team and increasing in skill the 76ers are definitely upgraded this season.
The offseason grade given to the 76ers would essentially be C- or D+ because the front office was so ineffective, without a President of Basketball Operations and a definite GM any star player would be wary of joining the team. Brett Brown is now the highest person in the front office, and his likability towards his previous players is not making big gains for the team just yet.
Moreover, Ilyasova and Marco Bellinelli leaving were big losses for the team as they addressed the gaps in the 3-P shooting and contributing role players. Philadelphia is still relying too much on their drafted players like Zhaire Smith, Korkmaz, Luwavu and more. This would not lead them to the NBA Finals in the near future as Boston also has young players but they also have the upper hand with the Gordon Hayward contract and Boston being a big market for free agents.
The problem for the 76ers was they could not create a solution for their obvious problems such as Simmons not being able to shoot or their ability to properly rotate players if a stater is having an off night. The 76ers further went through an interesting route by trading picks with Boston last season to draft Fultz even though they had Simmons before. If looking at a pure starting 5- Simmons, Redick, Covington, Saric and Embiid, the team looks to be a big playoff contender.
However, Redick is 34 years old, which means if the team needs to increase the pace of the game by moving the ball around and fastbreaks, they need a good shooting guard (a role neither Simmons or Fultz are trained for right now). Covington is a good shooter but his main responsibility is to be the defensive pillar for the team. Brett Brown should design plays where Simmons moves to a point-forward (because of his height) and this would give Covington the ability to move around and hit some catch-shoot jumpers
Further, this also shows a bigger problem- lack of depth. After the starting 5, all they have is role players and rookies in Fultz and Smith. Players like Muscala, Chandler, Bayless, and McConnel are putting up decent numbers but their contribution needs to be more than numbers, by relieving the pressure of the Star players offensively and defensively. Brett Brown needs to train these players like Steve Kerr did with Mcgee, get the most out of them efficiently and within the least amount of time to give the starters some rest.