This season came to a disappointing end in the second round yet again, so the focus must now shift towards improving the team. There has been a lot said about James Harden’s status on the team going forward, but realistically the Sixers just gave up Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, AND 2 first round picks for him. It would be very hard to give up on a guy after playing for 35 games, especially when Daryl Morey gave up so much to get him. Obviously he did not play up to standards and need to improve going forward, but hopefully he comes back actually in shape next year and can be more comfortable in his role and live up to being that second star.
However just because Harden will most likely not be on the move, that doesn’t mean this roster should stay in tact because there is A LOT of room for improvement. Players, coaches, front office, fans, etc. all left that Heat series saying there needs to be some changes going forward. Now it is just a matter of who will be added to the roster to make it more of a championship team. There are two main things the Sixers need to focus on this offseason, depth and toughness.
The Sixers obviously gave up two players that greatly improved their depth in order to get rid of Ben Simmons, so it makes sense that their bench was thin. However, it is unacceptable to bring back most of those guys going forward because they were consistently one of the worst benches in the league. Constantly coughing up leads and letting teams pull away during the games.
With absolutely no one who can create their own shot consistently or be relied on to hit shots on the road in the playoffs, the Sixers handicapped their potential. Shake Milton being your best offensive threat off the bench is not part of a championship equation.
Paul Reed was the only player at times that looked like he was really trying out there, and so many of those players looked completely unprepared to play. There needs to be an emphasis on depth at all positions and there needs to be an emphasis on veteran leadership as well. There needs to be shooting, especially catch and shoot players who do not need plays drawn up for them to score. The Celtics and Heat have four, sometimes five players on the court at a time who can hit shots from the perimeter, the Sixers had guys who struggle to dribble.
The Sixers need understand that they had one of the worst benches, but also one of the softest. The postgame interviews after the Heat series were all about how they lacked mental toughness and strength to match up with Miami over a 7 game series. I believe the Sixers will keep Matisse Thybulle going forward but everyone else on the bench is very moveable.
The Sixers need to focus on getting 3 and D players to give them the spacing they need, and also to make up for a lot of defensive liabilities. Embiid and Harden were both able to be double and triple teamed at times, yet players could not punish Miami’s aggressiveness by hitting open shots. When you look at the teams remaining in the playoffs, they are littered with perimeter shooters who space the floor and tough minded defensive players.
I don’t know the stats on the year, but the Sixers had to be one of the last in the league in taking charges. When Embiid was not in the game there was zero resistance in the paint and Miami absolutely obliterated them on the offensive boards. Every championship team needs guys like that who are willing to put their bodies on the line to win the game, but the Sixers had guys who were often scared of the moment. If Georges Niang tries to block one more person at the rim with his 14-inch vertical, instead of attempting to take a charge, he’s as useful as chair.
Nobody on the Sixers bench ever took things personally, or seemed to accept the challenge defensively. This cannot be the case going forward if they want to win a championship. The Sixers need to find more shooting and a lot of it, but those players need to be able to guard SOMEBODY. James Harden is a bad defender, everyone knows it, you cannot surround him with Shake Milton, Georges Niang, Furkan Korkmaz, and DeAndre Jordan and they be surprised your getting blown out in playoff games.
This is an enormous offseason for the Sixers, and as the rumor mill begins…
in Daryl Morey we Trust