When Brett Brown was hired as the Philadelphia 76ers head coach, he stated that one of his ultimate goals was to bring a championship to the city. It is a lofty goal indeed.
Fast-forward to now, the middle of Brown’s sixth season, and the Sixers are closer for sure. But they’re not ready to win a championship. Not yet.
To be fair, Brown took over one of the worst rosters. Too many players have come through the doors of the Wells Fargo Center, such as Henry Sims, Hollis Thompson, Casper Ware, Sonny Weems, and Christian Wood. In addition to those players, there were so many others that he had to coach.
From Sam Hinkie to Bryan Colangelo and now to Elton Brand, the Sixers are finally on the proper path for the first title since 1982-83.
Last season, the Sixers won 52 games, defeated the Miami Heat in five games and were then bounced in five games by the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Much of the passionate Sixers fan base went ballistic about losing, but the Celtics were simply the better team.
In 2018-19, the Sixers are on pace to eclipse last season’s win total in the regular season. Joel Embiid is healthy. Ben Simmons refuses to shoot jump shots, but he’s an incredibly talented player who does so many things at a very high level.
Jimmy Butler joined the team in November thanks to a blockbuster trade by Brand. He is still trying to fit in, but his talent is immense. Butler has already won two games with last-second, game-winning shots.
That being said, is the roster perfect? Hardly.
JJ Redick is a sniper from three-point territory and he’s also playing the best basketball of his solid career.
Brown has a tough task in trying to mesh his three stars – Embiid, Simmons, and Butler. Embiid is performing at an MVP level. Simmons is racking up triple-doubles but will need to improve in certain areas once the playoffs begin.
As we saw in last year’s playoffs, teams are going to pack the paint and force Simmons to shoot. Teams are also going to foul him a lot down the stretch and force him to make clutch free throws.
Playoff games come to a screeching halt at times, so the Sixers are going to have to make shots. Aside from Redick, they’re not a very good shooting team.
The bench is also thin with the loss of Dario Saric and Robert Covington in the Butler trade. Oh, and we haven’t mentioned Markelle Fultz yet. Who knows if he’ll ever play another game for the Sixers?
Fultz is a former No. 1 overall pick and it hurts not having him in the lineup. He could have been Jayson Tatum and everyone can see how well that move is working out for the Celtics.
However, the Sixers’ bench – T.J. McConnell, Furkan Korkmaz, Jonah Bolden, Amir Johnson, Landry Shamet and Mike Muscala among others – needs to get better.
If the Sixers harbor championship hopes, the bench must improve. Brand is certainly aware of this fact. When Brown looks to his bench, he doesn’t see anyone like Bobby Jones.
The Sixers are getting closer for sure. Moves need to be made and they will be executed.
Getting from The Process to this point was a challenge. Getting from this point to a parade down Broad Street will be much more daunting. Don’t expect it to happen immediately.