Can the new look 76ers Take the East?
The Philadelphia 76ers will be going into next season with a new look. Yes, the team lost both Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick. However, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are still at the center of the franchise. Additionally, in adding Josh Richardson and Al Horford, while committing to Tobias Harris, the team may have finally found the balance they were looking for. The question is, will they finally be able to take the East with this new rotation?
The New Guys
The 76ers selected their new signings for very understandable reasons, each bringing something valuable to the table. While Al Horford isn’t a player who will grab headlines for the team, he will grab you rebounds. Bringing the same game to the table every single night, Horford is an experienced veteran who is one of the most consistent players in the game. Once thought of as a traditional big man, Horford can get it going from almost anywhere on the floor. Additionally, he can help bolster that inside defense alongside Embiid to make scoring in the paint very difficult for opposing teams.
To add to the team’s defensive prowess, Josh Richardson is a nice piece. Spending his last few seasons in Miami, Richardson developed into a valuable role player. He has the skill to round out the starting rotation. Though not a huge scoring threat, he doesn’t exactly need to be. Playing next to Simmons, Richardson can bolster that front court defensively and help space the floor.
Of course, fans already know what they are getting with Tobias Harris. While not new to the team, he will be more than a half-year rental going into next season. The 27 year old swingman joined the 76ers half way through last season. He finished the regular season with 20 points per game, while grabbing 7.9 rebounds. The front office clearly liked what they saw, signing him to a five year, $180 million contract. He will look to bring the same fire he did last season in propelling this team forward.
The Team as a Whole
As far as any team goes, Philadelphia has assembled a nearly complete squad. The starting rotation will likely consist of all the players mentioned above, which is an intimidating lineup. However, between the starting rotation and the bench, the 76ers possess a glaring lack of shooters. Now, that doesn’t mean they will have any trouble scoring. With the style and pace of the game, teams need shooters more than ever. It’ll certainly be more difficult to compete without any snipers in the rotation. Yet, it won’t be impossible.
In an earlier article I wrote regarding Ben Simmons, I discussed his potential impact if he were to develop his shot. If anyone has watched his summer mixtapes, it’s apparent that he knows his potential too. As a 6’10 point guard, it’ll be hard to see any smaller guard seriously contesting his shot. Him developing a jumper going could be the difference between winning and losing for the 76ers. However, the fact that he can score inside at will should not be overlooked. Nor should his abilities to consistently set up his teammates
On top of that, the team has upped its rebounding prowess thanks to the addition of Horford. The starting lineup alone is full of guys who have been known to battle on the boards. It’s safe to say that Philadelphia will not have any trouble controlling getting rebounds next year, which will help facilitate second chance points. Of course, that doesn’t make up for high octane shooting. However, it does mitigate the situation a little bit. Thus, it stands to reason that the team has a real chance of breaking out of the East in hopes of finally making it to the Finals. Yet, you can’t forget about the “Greek Freak.”
The Reigning MVP and the Other Contenders
Giannis Antetoukempo was the MVP for a reason. In spite of the minimal flaws that he showed last season, he proved himself to be a nearly unstoppable force. Add that to the fact that the Milwaukee front office has surrounded him with shooters, and you have a combination that can hold on to the East. Though ultimately outlasted in the playoffs, the Bucks had the best record in basketball during the regular season. “The Greek Freak” isn’t just going to let another team take that away from him, especially now that Kawhi Leonard has gone West. Thus, while the 76ers have a real chance to be the kings of the East, they aren’t without challenge.
In addition to Milwaukee, the East is brimming with hungry and talented teams all trying to take the crown. The Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics are only a step or two below the 76ers. On paper, the teams may line up, but once again the lack of shooters reels its ugly head. While the 76ers may be able to out size most and defend the perimeter, if it comes down to a shooting contest, they are not the best bet. Thus, taking the East will not be easy for them. Yet, no one should count them out by a long shot. They could very well make it back to the finals after many, many seasons.
There is no clear winner here. If the 76ers can overcome there offensive lacking, they could very well prove themselves to be the number one seed. However, they will have competition that will make next season a challenge. With the stage set for a true battle royale, next year will be a lot of fun to watch as the 76ers try to usurp power in the East.