The Sixers offseason was much more exciting than anyone could have imagined after the first round sweep. Now, a newly shaped roster takes aim at the East with a focus on surrounding Simmons and Embiid with perimeter threats. With preseason action starting this week, what roles could the new members of the organization have moving forward ?
Danny Green– The Woj notification including Al Horford being shipped out and Danny Green becoming a Sixer, was pure elation. A terrible contract and fit, was swapped out for a 3-and-D forward with a championship pedigree. Green is exactly what the Sixers need. He’s a deadeye shooter and a solid defender. 40-percent career three-point shooters don’t grow on trees. I don’t care how bad his DisneyWorld shooting was, he’ll be an instant upgrade on both sides of the ball. Green is a reigning two-time NBA Champion. His attributes to the team will go beyond the stat sheet. Adding Danny Green will play dividends for a team looking to take the next step towards contention. He’s the overwhelming favorite to start at small forward.
Seth Curry- Remember how vital J.J. Redick was to the Sixers, offense ? Now picture him with a live dribble and that’s who Seth Curry will be. He’s coming off four straight seasons of at least 42-percent from deep. Curry is a match made in heaven for a team sorely lacking perimeter potency. He can hit shots from the pick and roll and create for himself off-the-bounce. He highlights the strengths of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid and Redick quickly formed synergy in dribble-handoff sets. The gravity of Embiid’s down-low dominance freed up Redick to fire away, while Redick’s sharpshooting forced defenses to vacate space for Embiid. Curry has never played with an interior scorer of Embiid’s caliber. They will both make each other’s lives immensely easier. Simmons’ elite playmaking in transition will be exciting to pair with Curry’s endless range. Make no mistake, the Sixers did not just acquire a good fit. They received an elite shooter. Curry has been on an upward trajectory for the past three seasons, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him have his best season yet. The starting two-guard role is his to lose.
Terrance Ferguson- I wrote recently that Daryl Morey needed to turn garbage into gold in trade acquisitions. Ferguson is the type of boom or bust coin flip I expected Morey to nab. His offense can be easy on the eyes. He can get hot from deep, and his dunks challenge the laws of physics. Unfortunately words like; inconsistent and streaky, are attributed with Ferguson. Usually those words are a gentle translation of … not good. There’s a window where Ferguson can get minutes. He’ll be jousting with Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and Isaiah Joe for secondary wing opportunities. The talent is there but the production is not. He scored 3.9 points per game last season, while shooting less than 30-percent from three. Calling a player with 176 career playoff minutes raw may sound contradictory, but Ferguson hasn’t found consistency in his young career. It’s tough to envision him nailing down a role in a crowded wing rotation. With two shooters (Isaiah Joe and Furkan Korkmaz) and a defensive maniac (Matisse Thybulle) vying for the same chunk of minutes, it’s hard to see Ferguson having a role greater than a 12-ish mpg sparkplug.
Dwight Howard– The rumors of a Nerlens Noel reunion came to a screeching halt when the signing of future Hall of Famer Dwight Howard was announced. After uneventful stops in Atlanta and Charlotte, Howard’s career looked to be sputtering. His second stint with the Lakers revitalized his NBA livelihood. Howard averaged 7.5 ppg and 7.3 rpg on the eventual champions. He slimmed down and looked much more agile than he has in the past. The backup role behind Embiid is very simple; protect the rim and finish at the rim. He’ll struggle to consistently play versus floor-stretching bigs, but Howard matching the physicality of Joel Embiid will be his key to staying on the floor. Look for Dwight to get approximately 16 minutes per contest, while doing violent things around the rim.
Tony Bradley- Bradley shot 100-percent from deep last year. Efficiency ! On a more logical note, Bradley is a sturdy option for the role of reserve center. His game is like an instructional video of how to play center. He’s got clean footwork, soft touch, and is always in great rebounding position. 2019-20 was Bradley’s first season of consistent playing time. He’ll go from playing behind 3x All-NBA center Rudy Gobert, to playing behind another All-NBA bigman in Joel Embiid. Not to mention, competing with future Springfield inductee Dwight Howard. Bradley’s path to legitimate minutes is Embiid resting or Howard not fitting in alongside Simmons. He’s facing the same obstacles as Kyle O’Quinn did last season. They’re both quality players but neither address the team’s weaknesses. Bradley’s rotation spot will probably be in limbo, but to no fault of his own.
Justin Anderson- Put his friendship with Embiid aside, and there’s still a tangible role for Anderson. His minutes will come via defense and energy, anything else is a bonus. Multi-position defenders are commodities in today’s NBA and Anderson is looking to prove his worth. The former UVA star took a blowtorch to the G-League. In 31 games he averaged 20.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, and 1.1 steals per game. He earned a chance to go to the bubble with Brooklyn. His 10 games as a Net were largely forgettable, except for when he threw down on Giannis’ head. The Sixers lacked attitude last season. Too often they looked like they were going through the motions with zero intensity. Anderson brings it, and has no problems mucking it up. Getting ready to tussle with D-Wade in the 2018 Heat series endeared him to the fans forever. He’s primed to be the shot-in-the-arm, slap the floor, bruiser off of the bench.
Vincent Poirier- Acquiring centers from the Celtics can never go wrong … right ? Poirier was a throw in to complete the Horford-Green swap and for the sake of avoiding the luxury tax, he could be on his way out the door. I’ll let Liberty Ballers’ Harrison Grimm explain the rest. Au revoir ?
Isaiah Joe- Finding a player with a bankable skill is never easy in the late second round. Joe is tremendous value with the 49th pick. His role is simple, come off the bench and shoot like you have the eternal green light. He was an elite shooter with over 200 triples made in his two year college career. His floor time will be dictated by Furkan Korkmaz. If Korkmaz misses time or goes ice cold from the floor, Joe’s number could be called. Otherwise, he’s looking at a year of defensive and physical development before he’s a nightly player.
Tyrese Maxey– You know how teams like the Mavs, Heat, and Nuggets just keep churning out great role players like clockwork ? Tyrese Maxey is the Sixers version of that. There’s no way there will be 20 players from this draft class better than him. Maxey is primed for backcourt minutes, but his utilization will be interesting to watch unfold. Will he be more of a point guard than a two guard ? Will he spend a large slice of minutes alongside Simmons as a secondary ball handler ? Whichever way you figure, Maxey will see the floor. He’s got a shifty way of always pressuring the rim and getting his shot off. Whether he gets floor-general duties or works the two-man game off of the ball, Maxey is a high energy/IQ player that should be playoff ready sooner rather than later.