With the end of the 2020 NBA Finals and historical “bubble” season, many teams have produced incredible playoff runs or have fallen short of expectations. The Sixers’ 40-33 record and first-round playoff exit have left many fans and Fords disappointed.
With the offseason starting, changes to the Sixers’ front office have already occurred. After getting swept by the Boston Celtics, former seven-year Head Coach Brett Brown was fired. With his dismissal, students question the Sixers’ future.
“I personally just think that they need more of a veteran leadership in the players and coaching staff,” Third Former Sean Brodnik said.
General Manager Elton Bran, and the Sixers’ management acquired former head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, Doc Rivers.
Rivers helped the Clippers make the top-10 offensive rating, something that Philadelphia’s defense-heavy and tallest lineup in the NBA needs.
Most importantly, Rivers brings his veteran experience and leadership to the table.
“I think that Doc Rivers will definitely improve our overall record, especially during away games,” Fourth Former Thaddeus Busser said.
The Sixers lost a number of closely fought games. The Sixers have a 33% win percentage in overtime games and a 55% win percentage in games within 10 points.
“I have seen them giving up games at the end because they couldn’t finish,” Brodnik said.
Rivers’ leadership proves to be something that could solve this problem. Despite the Clippers’ result in this year’s playoffs, Rivers led some of his previous teams to victory in crucial games. With the 2008 Boston Celtics, he helped them overcome two Game 7’s in Rounds 1 and 2, beating a resilient Detroit Pistons team in the process. Finally, he captured the elusive title for the Celtics against the longtime rival Los Angeles Lakers, led by the late Kobe Bryant.
Just as good coaching and leadership can help a team, the players still to win. As chess translates to the hardwood court, the proper algorithm and chemistry between players can determine a team’s performance.
“I think Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are great players on their own. I’m not sure about their future in the long run,” said Busser.
Embiid and Simmons remain the backbone of the team as both led in points and several other statistics. This leaves the question, did certain role players deliver and benefit the team?
“Tobias Harris or Al Horford should be traded. They don’t serve their purpose,” said Brodnik.
Harris signed a max $180M deal with the Sixers. They signed him to secure a solid player with a consistent 3-point shot. In contrast to the expectations, Harris is outside the Top 100 3-point percentage in the NBA. To put this into perspective, Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans, who is widely criticized for his shooting form and consistency, has a higher 3-point percentage than Harris.
Similarly, Al Horford is expected to be traded to the Knicks or Timberwolves due to his underperformance throughout the season. If a trade between the Timberwolves and Sixers occurs, the first overall pick, which is expected to be the crafty LaMelo Ball, might be involved if the Sixers give up Simmons.
With the acquisition of former Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, the Sixers are sure to make some important changes.
“I look forward to watching the games and hopefully they can win the ring.”Thadeus Busser ’23
Morey is one of the reasons for the emphasis on 3-point shooting, often dubbed “Moreyball,” for the Rockets and around the NBA. With him managing basketball operations, the possibility of Ben Simmons shooting threes doesn’t seem impossible anymore. Not to mention, Morey coming from the Rockets could possibly set up a trade between Ben Simmons and other draft picks for the 2018 MVP James Harden.
Nonetheless, the organization has made important changes to the Sixers lineup and management that will greatly impact the team’s performance heading into the 2021-2022 season.
“This season for the Sixers is going to be an interesting one,” Busser said. “I look forward to watching the games and hopefully they can win the ring.”