The 2019-2020 season for the Philadelphia 76ers was one to forget.
The offseason signing of Al Horford and trade for Josh Richardson had many predicting they would win the title.
Instead, the team stumbled through the season before getting swept in the first round of the playoffs in the bubble.
Horford did not solidify the center position off the bench and the spacing was constantly non-existent.
This offseason brought about major changes.
Daryl Morey was brought in to be the President of Basketball Operations and Doc Rivers was hired to be the new head coach.
The trade aggregate restriction for Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson has been lifted.
Expect the Al Horford trade (to OKC) to get finalized on Tuesday.
The Thunder will pick up another future 1 and Philly will create a $8.1M trade exception.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) December 8, 2020
Josh Richardson was shipped off to the Dallas Mavericks for Seth Curry.
They drafted a dynamic scoring guard in Tyrese Maxey and signed a veteran center in Dwight Howard.
In addition to these major moves, they also signed C Tony Bradley and drafted SG Isaiah Joe and PF Paul Reed.
Morey says he will not include Ben Simmons in any trade but the 76ers are the odds-on favorite to land the disgruntled scoring champ.
After an eventful offseason, 76ers’ fans are once again hopeful.
The roster surrounding Joel Embiid and Simmons fits much better with the added shooting.
And the added veteran presence from Green and Howard will be welcome in the locker room.
With Embiid and Simmons maturing another year, the sky is the limit for this team.
Joel Embiid Wins DPOY
Joel Embiid is a top 20 player in the NBA – when he is healthy.
The “when he is healthy” part has been tough for Joel in his 6 years in the league.
He missed 22 games last year and has yet to play more than 64 games in a season.
But when Embiid is on the court, he is a generational talent.
His per 36-minute averages are as follows:
- 28.3 PPG
- 13.6 RPG
- 3.7 APG
- 2.1 BPG
He has made 3 straight All-Star games and is a 2x All-NBA and 2x All-Defensive team member.
Joel finished 2nd in DPOY voting in ’17-’18 and finished 4th in ’18-’19.
Last season, the Sixers had a defensive rating of 102 when Embiid was on the court.
When he was off the court, that rating fell to 110.5 – the largest differential of any Sixer who played at least 1,000 minutes.
Embiid’s impact on the 76ers is immense.
The only thing that has held Embiid from major accolades is his injury history.
Embiid has said this past offseason saw him hire a personal chef and a nutritionist to work on his body.
He has made his physical fitness a priority the past two offseasons so he could play more minutes and remain energized for the playoffs.
#Sixers center Joel Embiid on goals for this season: 'The main thing is winning. When you win, everybody wins … then I'm up there for those award conversations.' Says he should always be in MVP, DPOY, All-NBA mix. #NBA
— Tom Moore (@TomMoorePhilly) December 10, 2020
Embiid looked better last year but was starting to wear out before COVID halted the season.
Another offseason with a nutritionist and personal chef should help Joel stay healthy and play in at least 70 games.
The defensive impact and stats have always been there, he just hasn’t played enough.
A full season from Embiid should put him squarely in the conversation to win DPOY as he anchors one of the league’s stingiest defenses.
Sixers Win 60+ Games*
The asterisk is included just in case the full 82-game schedule is not played due to COVID.
60 wins do not feel out of reach for this team.
The roster more resembles the team from ’17-’18, which won 52 games.
This roster was the best fitting roster the Sixers had in regards to Simmons and Embiid.
All 5 players mentioned above, outside of Ben and Joel, could shoot from 3 to stretch the defense.
Redick provided Embiid with a dribble-hand-off (DHO) partner while Covington and Belinelli gave Simmons perimeter targets to kick it to after he collapsed the defense.
There are some similarities to this year’s team.
Joel Embiid: Looks to have a similar dynamic with Curry as Redick… Wants to play 20 years… Win games and individual awards will come with them… Gotta mix up pick-and-roll coverages on defense… Dan Burke and him have been "very close," will love his foul drawing this year pic.twitter.com/DbHQmGGJ34
— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) December 10, 2020
Seth Curry will be Embiid’s new DHO partner and Green, Harris, and Shake Milton will be perimeter threats for Ben to hit off drives.
Not to mention, Ben and Joel now have 2 more years of experience under their belt.
And they will be coached by one of the best in Rivers.
This team will be motivated to rebound after last year’s fiasco of a season.
Between the better roster balance, maturation and hunger of their young stars, and talented coaching, 60 wins will be obtained this year for the 76ers.
Shake Milton Wins 6th Man of the Year
This one is probably the most unlikely of the three but still has a shot.
Shake had somewhat of a coming-out party last year.
When he filled in for the injured Simmons, Milton had flashes of brilliance – including 39 points against the Clippers in Los Angeles.
In an 8 game stretch starting in late February when Simmons got injured, Milton posted these averages:
- 17.9 PPG, 4.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 57.6% FG, 58.5% 3PT (on 5.1 attempts per game)
Milton is 6’5″ with a 7′ wingspan – incredible length for a guard.
He is rangy and athletic and has the ability to be a knock-down shooter from deep.
Shake figures to see plenty of minutes this year as the back-up point guard behind Simmons.
Sixers guard Shake Milton receives love from Ben Simmons, Doc Rivers https://t.co/2k0LGkym2Y
— Sixers Wire (@SixersWire) December 16, 2020
And new coach Doc Rivers has consistently talked about how excited he is to utilize Shake this season.
Don’t be surprised if Shake is in the discussion at the end of the year for the 6th Man award.
These three predictions were seen as bold but still somewhat likely to occur and were not too corny.
Winning the title is of course a bold prediction, but every team would have that on their list of bold predictions.
This team has the talent to make the finals, it’s just a matter of whether it will all come together.
The other honorable mention is Ben Simmons finally starting to consistently shoot the ball.
He has not done so for 3 seasons now, even in the face of public pleading from his old coach and fellow teammates.
Simmons seems deadset against shooting the basketball for whatever reason and did not take any jumpers in the 76ers first preseason game against the Boston Celtics.
Simmons beginning to shoot did not make the cut for bold predictions because it seemed unlikely to happen.