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After the “event that shall not be named” in Toronto abruptly and painfully ended the Sixers season, many of the Philly faithful on one hand wanted to “run it back” but also were skeptical with how newly appointed GM Elton Brand would handle a possibly chaotic offseason with Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris’s expired contracts looming.
With the draft coming up next Thursday and a stacked free agency class, it is only right to assess how the Sixers can truly prepare themselves to “run it back”
It is no secret that the Sixers have two glaring needs: perimeter shooting and perimeter defense. After the trade for Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic just before the trade deadline last season, the Sixers may have gained a decent perimeter shooter and a sufficient backup big, but they lost an up and coming three point threat in Landry Shamet. In addition, although J.J. Reddick has somewhat been able to accommodate that need for shooting over the past couple years, he is expensive and is a defensive liability.
One way the Sixers can address these discrepancies is through the draft. They currently have the 24th pick in the first round and a whopping four second round picks. In our opinion, the best fit for the Sixers is UNC Guard/Forward Cameron Johnson– he is ,arguably, the best shooter in the draft(shooting an unbelievable 45% from three), a long athletic perimeter defender, and a guy who isn’t afraid to create his own shot.
If Elton Brand doesn’t feel he can get him at 24 then he should be able to package one of the second round picks to move up and take Johnson. He simply addresses almost all of the Sixers needs. If Johnson doesn’t fall to twenty four or a deal is not made, the next best selection in our opinion is Washington guard Matisse Thybulle. A two time Pac-12 defensive player of the year who averaged 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks while also breaking Gary Payton’s long held Pac-12 steals record. He is 6 foot 5 with crazy athleticism and a fairly developed jumper that could be a lockdown defender in the NBA.
The hefty amount of second round picks the Sixers have could also benefit them as players like Carsen Edwards and Daniel Gafford will more than likely still be available and could immediately add valuable minutes to the Sixers’ rotation.
Furthermore, Sixers’ management needs to prioritize resigning Jimmy Butler, who proved to be a key offensive and defensive superstar especially during the playoffs. In this writer’s opinion, although Tobias showed flashes of being an All-Star like player, if he doesn’t concede to a lower paying contract(which he probably won’t considering he had his best season last year and will be looking for max money) the Sixers should let him walk to free up more cap space.
After the draft, Elton Brand needs to maintain his aggressive tactics that he used throughout the regular season to acquire key free agents. The prized possession that would fit the Sixers perfectly in our eyes is Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson who is one of the best shooters ever and a top quality perimeter defender. The Sixers need to heavily pursue Thompson or another player of his caliber than Brand feels can make the offense more fluid. To add more bench depth there’s plenty of role players that could prove valuable such as Marcus Morris, Seth Curry, Alec Burks, Bojan Bogdanovic and many others. Ultimately, free agency is where the Sixers can potentially build a championship team.
With the expected development of Ben Simmons’s jump shot and the continuation of Embiid’s MVP level play along with making smart decisions that add shooting, defense, and bench depth this offseason, the Sixers can expect to truly “run it back” and rule the Eastern Conference.