The Philadelphia Sixers were among the big winners in free agency as they delicately maneuvered around the loss of Jimmy Butler.
While it’s reported that the team offered him the max, he still wanted to leave and as a result, the team quickly reshaped the roster. Are they better or are they worse? Let’s take a closer look at what’s changed.
The Sixers New Starting Lineup
PG: Ben Simmons
SG: Josh Richardson
SF: Tobias Harris
PF: Al Horford
C: Joel Embiid
As it stands now, the 76ers should field one of the tallest starting lineups in NBA history. The average height is 6’9.4 with the smallest player on the court being Richardson at 6’6. They were already one of the better defensive teams in the league.
The ride with Butler is over. Yes, he was the team’s best closer in the playoffs and he’s a legitimate star – regardless of what anyone will tell you. However, he seemed to rub Brett Brown the wrong way.
Tobias Harris gets a chance to shine. Of the Sixers Big Four from last season, Harris was the one who took the back seat. He was an All-Star with the Los Angeles Clippers but he was just a member of the supporting cast with Philadelphia. He’ll have the ball in his hands a lot more and have more opportunities now that Butler is gone.
Horford can fill in for Joel Embiid. We know how important load management is in the NBA. With Embiid, the 76ers felt they really need him out there as they’re not the same team without him.
He’s had durability concerns in the past but now with Horford on the roster, the team can comfortably rest Embiid on certain nights, preserve him for the playoffs and not worry about a huge drop-off.
Josh Richardson could be a steal. This is a versatile player who averaged 16.6 points per game last season and shot 35.7% from three. He’s 25 years old and has improved in each of his four seasons in the league.
Many people feel the Sixers might need to find another shooter but if Richardson continues to improve incrementally as he has, he might be the guy they need.
Sixers lose their crunch time scorer. The 76ers have to really think about who is going to be their guy with the game on the line. Butler played this role last season but who plays the role going forward?
Simmons is still working on his shot, Embiid hasn’t consistently been that guy and while Harris played that role in Los Angeles, he hasn’t always been that guy in his career.
The Sixers lost to a team with a great closer; they have to find out who their closer will be.
How do the Sixers replace J.J. Redick? One thing that gets lost in the shuffle is the Sixers lost their best three-point ace. Redick averaged 3.2 threes per game last season (41.4% from three in the playoffs) on a team that only had 10.8 per game to begin with (19th in the NBA).
They’ve added players who can hit threes like Horford and Richardson, but nobody who was a sharpshooter like Redick.
What happens when the paint is packed? That seems to go hand-in-hand with the last point but the 76ers have to find a way to stretch the court. With so many threats on the inside and questions on the outside, teams will crowd the paint and dare the 76ers to shoot from the outside.
Is size the way to go? The 76ers just happen to be big and they’re still an athletic team, but one has to wonder if the focus on size is a bit too much. This is a league that seems to be going smaller and focusing more on three-point shooting.
We’ve seen LeBron James play power forward and guys like Kevin Love and Draymond Green play center in the playoffs. The Sixers have a lot of length and muscle, but the league has mostly trended towards smaller lineups that can shoot.
At PointsBet Sportsbook, the 76ers are:
- 9 to 1 to win the 2019-20 NBA Championship
- And their regular season win total is 52.5
They’ve improved their roster quite a bit but at the end of the day, their season will be contingent on a few things.
1. Simmons has to improve as a shooter.
- I love the 76ers to go over their regular season win total at 52.5 as that seems like a gift.
- Simmons plays like an All-Star in the regular season and given the rest of the roster, that’s a great bet.
- However, Simmons also tends to struggle in the playoffs and if he doesn’t develop that shot, this team won’t win the championship.
2. Embiid has to stay healthy.
- The team now has ample depth with guys like Mike Scott back and the addition of Horford and Kyle O’Quinn to give him nights off.
- The Sixers have to take care of Embiid so he’s 100% – or as close as possible – in the playoffs.
3. The Sixers have to find a closer.
- Sure, they’ll be a strong defensive team, their starting five is as good as anyone in the NBA and they have ample depth.
- Still, they need to figure out who their crunch time scorer is when the game is on the line.
That’s why the 76ers regular season win total over bet is a great option.
As for betting them to win the NBA Championship or even the East, I’d hold off for now.
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