Philadelphia 76ers – Off Season Report

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers

2015/16 Record: 10-72 (2nd worst in franchise history)

Ins:

Ben Simmons DR – Pick #1
Dario Saric DR – Pick #12 (2014)
Gerald Henderson FA – 2 Years / $18mil (2nd not guaranteed)
Jerryd Bayless FA – 3 Years / $27mil
Sergio Rodriguez FA – 1 Year / $8mil
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot DR – Pick #24
Cat Barber FA – 3 Years / $2.6mil (Non guaranteed)
Shawn Long FA – 3 Years / $2.6mil (Non guaranteed)
Brandon Paul FA – 3 Years / $2.6mil (Non guaranteed)
James Webb FA – 3 Years / $2.6mil (Non guaranteed)

Outs:

Isaiah Canaan FA – Bulls
Carl Landry WA – Free Agent
Kendall Marshall TR – Jazz
Ish Smith FA – Detroit
Sonny Weems FA – Hornets
Christian Wood WA – Free Agent
Tony Wroten WA – Grizzlies

Off Season Analysis:

The Philadembiidia Seventy-Simmonsers have waited 3 long years for this. 3 years of #processing their roster, drafting for upside, looking for the long term, treating an NBA roster like a Gentlemen’s club. Get ‘em in, check ‘em out, pay some money, and onto the next one. Sam Hinkie (RIP) spent the last 3 years trying to get his team to this exact point. Shame he won’t be around to #witness™ the next phase, but he left us a great goodbye letter.

Hinkie’s bad luck is Bryan Colangelo’s good fortune. His task: draft a potential Superstar and revitalise this once proud franchise, start to build some semblance of an NBA roster, and maybe try and win 20 games!

Side note, Philly have the worst total record over the past 6(!) years. It’s time to start winning.

With training camp now underway, there are stil plenty of questions surrounding the Sixer’s roster.

Either Jerryd Bayless or Sergio Rodriguez is going to be the starting PG. Bayless was serviceable last season, but is far, far away from a long term solution at the 1, not to mention costs $9 million more than cult hero Ish Smith. Spanish Chocolate hasn’t been in the NBA for a while now, and looks like a stopgap on a 1 year deal.

Shooting is also a problem. In theory, Sauce Castilo and Bobby Covington are the teams best shooters, but the numbers are ugly:

philly-shooting

They have a defensive centre in Nerlenes Noel who can’t score outside the restricted area. Noel shot 30.6% between 3-15 ft last year, which somehow was an improvement on the previous year. They have an offensive centre in Jahlil Okafor who can’t defend. Big Jah was very good in individual scoring scenarios, but he had a defensive rating of 110 (this is bad). The lack of lift and speed that was a concern in College translated to the pros, as teams routinely went over or around him. Somewhat surprisingly, he had the same rating on offence as Noel, despite his obvious advantage as a 1-on-1 player. If Noel continues to play much better defence and provide the same offensive rating as Okafor, Jah might find himself on the outside of the rotation looking in.

On the plus side, Bayless has some value as a shooter. He was ranked top 20 in points per possession as a spot up guy, and shot 47% on catch and shoot 3s. Henderson also had career number from 3 (35%) and at the rim at (71% between 0-2ft).For a team that wants to give the keys to Simmons as much as possible, they could have done worse. They are also solid in the locker room and should provide a good example to the young kids on how to be professional, along with Elton Brand if he can make the roster.

There are plenty of other items that could be discussed in the new, post Hinkie world. But really this season comes down to 3 players:

Saric.

Dario Saric finally comes over from Europe, after establishing himself as one of the best players the region has to offer. As a combo forward, Saric showed excellent development as a perimeter shooter. He went from 30% on 3.4 attempts per game in 2014/15, to 40% on 4.8 attempts in 2015/16. Whilst that cratered to 26% in the Olympics, one can assume the Euroleague MVP will continue to improve with more defensive attention devoted elsewhere.

He also showed the ability to come up big when it matters:

Saric is more or less a copy of Simmons – gifted passer for his size, and more of a 4 than a 3. His ability to mesh into different lineup combinations will be key for the team’s improvement, as well as his trade value moving forward.

Embiid.

Despite being sick, Joel Embiid FINALLY hit the court for training camp. We are only days away from Embiid to moving from a fantasy to a reality, and everyone is excited to see what happens.

Finally, we will get to see how Joel’s offseason training will translate to actual games.

If Joel can be healthy, he transforms everything for the Sixers. He offers a combination of Okafor’s offensive ablity and Noel’s defensive prowess that will (hopefully) rival Towns. Looking at the college numbers, the similarities are crazy. It’s a shame that KAT and Embiid are in opposite conferences, they are poised to provide the sorts of centre duels we haven’t had since the 90s.embiid-per-40min

kat-per-40min

Per 40min. basketball-reference.com

embiid-advanced

kat-advanced

Advanced Stats. basketball-reference.com

There were reasons he was getting compared to Hakeem towards the end of his lone season at Kansas. The ability for Philly to trade away Noel and/or Okafor depends on Embiid’s health. More than that, the ability for Philly to compete for a championship in 5 years depends largely on Embiid’s development. He is that special.

Simmons.

AND FINALLY, THE #PROCESS WORKED! All of Philly’s tanking finally resulted in a #1 pick, and Simmons is one of the more exciting prospects to come along in recent memory. Simmons is already an elite passer at the NBA level, let alone for his position. He looks like he belongs on the court (at least in summer league), and he shot just well enough from the line to make you think maybe he can develop a J. This would mean his floor is a LeBron Lite. Dear rest of the League, that is terrifying.

(Speaking of terrifying, Simmons apparently put on 33lb of muscle since leaving LSU. What the actual fuck!? Dante Exum isn’t buying it though.)

Questions around his jump shot and his motor won’t go away easily, that’s what happens when you only take 3 triples all year. His draft class voted Brandon Ingram as most likely to succeed, but that noise doesn’t seem to affect him. His jersey is already one of the best selling at the NBA store, and he was one of the few rookies to score a lucrative shoe deal. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Simmons counts LeBron as a friend and mentor, and James offers a great example for hard work paying off. For long suffering Philly fans, Simmons is exactly what hope looks like.

So you take Simmons, add Saric, sprinkle in some intriguing guards pilfered late in the first round in Luwawu and Korkmaz (great names!), factor in a healthy Embiid and there is plenty to build upon. You then have a 2nd unit featuring the unheralded Covington, Noel/Okafor, the potential of Jerami Grant and Luwawu and Rodriguez to find everyone the rock. Luwawu, in particular, is a wild card here. He reminds me of rookie Paul George in the way he moves.

Better times are coming, but it will still be hard work for Brett Brown and his crew. Philly rank 26th or lower in Transition Scoring, Isolation Scoring, Pick and Roll Ball Handler Scoring and Roll Man Scoring, Scoring off Cuts and just missed the mark for Scoring off Off-Ball Screens and Spot Ups, per nba.com/stats. Simmons will be great, but he alone can’t fix all those problems. There is also the matter of defence, which is a whole other issue.

The roster is still terribly imbalanced with a talented group of bigs who may not fit together, and may not be interested in Colangelo taking his time to figure it all out.noel-quote

The perimeter group either can’t shoot, can’t defend or both (exception, Covington). Of the new inclusions, only Bayless and Luwawu-Cabarrot are guaranteed past this season. Trader Sam might not be around anymore, but expect Colangelo to be active on the phones. The Sixers have somewhere around $27mil in cap space this season, there will be plenty of teams looking to take advantage of that, and Philly should be ready to pounce if opportunity knocks.

Okafor would appear to be the odd man out in the front court, but Noel would likely score a better return. There are many teams who would love Big Jah, but no-one seems willing to offer much of value, the off-court stuff is hard to ignore and the defence is a serious work in progress. Philly has a tonne of picks coming it’s way, and a heap of cap space both now and moving forward. The team is primed for franchise altering trades, but it’s never simple. Just like Boston experienced at last year’s draft, consolidating assets can be harder than it looks.

That consolidation falls on Colangelo, and the former Exec of the Year has been gifted plenty to work with. Father of the Year, Jerry Colangelo, gave him the keys to the Kingdom, lets hope he makes Daddy proud.

Grade: B+

2016/17 Prediction: 24-58

League Pass Meter: 8/10

This may be the most watchable bad team ever (Kobe fans disagree based on last year’s Lakers I’m sure). Simmons will throw at least 1 what-the-fuck pass every night, and Brett Brown always has the team playing fast and hard. Okafor might punch someone at any moment, either on or off the court. Other teams will score a ton and Philly should have close to 5 real NBA players on the court at all times. Plus, Embiid is back (or has finally arrived). Tune in to witness the future.

Depth Chart:

PG Bayless Rodriquez McConnell* Barber*
SG Henderson Stauskas Luwawu Thompson* Paul*
SF Covington* Saric Grant* Webb*
PF Simmons Okafor Holmes Long*
C Embiid Noel Brand*

*Salary guarantees 10 Jan 2017

Salary Cap Situation:

2016/17 salaries: $65,159,265
2017/18 salaries: $18,978,000

Max Room: $83mil
Min Room: $45.4mil

Future Assets:

Incoming:
2017 1st (Laker, Top 3 protected)
2017 1st (Swap rights with Kings, protected 11-30)
2018 2nd  (Cavs/Nets, whichever is more favorable)
2018 2nd  (Clippers/Knicks, whichever is more favorable)
2019 1st  (Kings, unprotected)
2019 2nd (Bucks/Kings, whichever is more favorable)
2019 2nd (Knicks)
2020 2nd (Nets)
2020 2nd (Knicks)
2021 2nd (Knicks)

Outgoing:
2017 2nd (Pelicans)

2016/17 Questions:

Will Simmons win the ROY?

Will Embiid play at least 60 games?

Can Colangelo find a decent return for Okafor or Noel?

Does Philly have enough shooting to win 20 games?

Can Saric play the 3 full time?

BONUS! Will Simmons take more than 10 3 pointers for the season?

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