After a disappointing season watching their team roll out the worst fitting lineups imaginable, the last thing Sixers fans wanted to hear from their General Manager and new Head Coach was a plan to run it back.

While bringing back the same cast that fared so poorly together this season may seem like the worst case scenario, there are cases to be made for it.

The Case for Continuity

“It’s hard to become a great team when you’re getting new teammates every year, It’s tough, especially young players like them, they’re expected [to shine] … and in Philly, they’ve got so many expectations on them, it’s tough.” Those comments came from Kevin Durant on the JJ Redick podcast. It is uncommon for stars like Durant to comment on the difficulties plaguing opposing teams but he does have a point. Since the Sixers drafted Joel Embiid no franchise in the league has completed as many trades as Philadelphia.

Photo: Brett Davis/USA Today Sports

Continuity can impact culture and chemistry, possibly two of the Sixers’ biggest issues this season. The Sixers have players on the roster with reputations as being good for team culture, Tobias Harris just finished second in Teammate of the Year voting, Al Horford was considered one of the best leaders in the league during his time in Boston and Atlanta, and Josh Richardson was traded to Philadelphia after starting his career in the now-famous Miami Heat culture.

Richardson and Horford were brought in the last off-season and Harris joined the team at the 2019 trade deadline, given time these three could be integral in helping Simmons, Embiid, and Doc Rivers develop a lasting winning culture in Philadelphia.

The Case for Coaching

It is too early to tell if Doc Rivers will have more success than Brett Brown in maximizing the potential of this Sixers team. Where Rivers already has an advantage is that he comes to the team as a fresh voice that the players will respect. Brown just had too much baggage with the team following the Jimmy Butler departure, especially considering Butler went on to take the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals. Doc joins the team with a reputation for working with superstars and developing winning cultures, whether that reputation is still deserved or not is perhaps less important in this case.

Doc’s teams have had some struggles on offense in recent years but he and assistant Dave Joerger should have the Sixers dialed in on the defensive end. Rivers may be slightly overrated at this point but it’s hard to see how Philadelphia will be worse next season with him at the helm.

The Case for the Defense

Philadelphia was sixth in points allowed and eighth in defensive rating this season, considering their personnel that may actually be an underachievement. The Sixers boast three All-Defensive Team members in Embiid (2017-18, 2018-19), Horford (2017-18), and Simmons (2019-20) as well as Matisse Thybulle who looks set to almost certainly make an All-Defensive team at some point in his career.

Between Embiid and Horford the Sixers can have an elite level defensive anchor on the floor at all times. If Josh Richardson can get back to his best next season then the Sixers could lineup Richardson, Simmons, and Thybulle at the same time and have three top-level defenders switching everything on the perimeter. Lineups with those three on the perimeter could give Doc the defensive options he thought he would have with the Clippers this year.

All that and the Sixers now employ the man that coached the Grit n Grind Grizzlies to 55 wins.

The Case for Player Improvement

Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz are 23 years old. Ben Simmons and Shake Milton are 24 years old. All four should conceivably improve next year in one way or another. Korkmaz is slowly starting to figure out where to be on both ends of the floor. Simmons and Thybulle have unlimited potential on the defensive end, to the point where claiming they could reach Jordan-Pippen levels defensively may not be that far-fetched.

Milton may never be the star some thought he could be but he can be a useful offensive weapon.

In fact, on JJ Redick’s podcast recently Joel Embiid mentioned he believed that he and Milton were slowly developing the chemistry that he and Redick once shared.

Embiid and Redick were a devastating tandem that unlocked the entire Sixers offense, if Milton and Embiid could develop even a fraction of that then it could go a long way to fixing the team’s offensive struggles.

The Case for a Miracle

There’s still at least a 1% chance that Embiid gets in shape and Simmons gets a jump shot, right?

Featured Image: Michael Leff/Getty Images
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