Two seasons ago, the Philadelphia 76ers nearly took down the eventual NBA champions Toronto Raptors in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Last season, much was expected from the team, but they struggled to sixth in the conference and first-round playoff exit. Now, after numerous changes starting with the firing of head coach Brett Brown, the 76ers are in position to make a deep post-season run.
The new man in town to run the show on the court is Glenn “Doc” Rivers, but he made it be known there is only one “Doc” in Philadelphia, the legendary Dr J, Julius Erving. In addition, the Philadelphia 76ers hired Daryl Morey to be the new president of basketball operations and the two have gone right to work.
Gone are Al Horford and Josh Richardson. In are Seth Curry, Danny Green, and Dwight Howard. The moves are genius by Morey as the 76ers added much needed shooting in the form of Curry and Green. Seth Curry is deadly from beyond the arc, hitting over 44 percent from three-point range during his career. Danny Green is 40 percent from long range over his career. As for Dwight Howard, the 35-year old veteran is a much better fit to backup Joel Embiid and has already shown he can provide veteran leadership.
The Philadelphia 76ers return three top-100 players, according to ESPN, in Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, and Embiid. Harris averaged 19.6 points and seven rebounds per game last season and hit 37 percent from beyond the arc. That percentage is likely to increase knowing Tobias Harris won’t need to be the primary man from long-range.
Ben Simmons has been criticized for not shooting more, but again, he likely won’t need to either with the addition of Curry and Green. Even without showing an outside shot, Simmons averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. As for Embiid, he had a down year by his standards and still posted 23 points and 12 rebounds per game. A new coaching philosophy and proper positioning on the offensive end and Embiid could dominate games this season much like he did in 2018-2019.
The maturation of Matisse Thybulle and Shake Milton will also improve the 76ers. Thybulle was already one of the top defensive players in the league during his rookie season and should be much more adept on the offensive end. Milton showed flashes of being a big-time scorer and averaged 14.5 points per game in the playoffs.
The tide has changed in Philadelphia and all for the better. The pieces are all there and with time and consistency in Glenn Rivers’ system, the Philadelphia 76ers could make noise in the NBA Eastern Conference this season.