By Julie Glass
The Sixers had a spectacular offseason and Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are far too often overlooked in all the debate about basketball’s best tandems.
Tobias Harris should be much more productive offensively playing without a ball-dominant perimeter scorer like Jimmy Butler. Josh Richardson, better suited for the supporting role he’ll play offensively with the Sixers, certainly addresses their need for a defender of star point guards, while Al Horford gives them even more length and versatility defensively and will sop up back-up center minutes behind Embiid that proved a disaster last season.
Philly’s bench, while still largely unproven, should be improved, too.
Even if you don’t believe they should vault above the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference pecking order, it’s undeniable that the Sixers are a legitimate contender heading into 2019-20. Detroit Pistons legend and ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups, though, wants to see Brett Brown’s team play before buying into the hype.
“I still need to see Philly play out. A lot of people fell in love with the moves they made,” he told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. “I’m not crazy about it right now, but I need to see it. They have great players, but I need to see it together.”
It’s still unclear how Philly will manage offensively in crunch time without a premier shot-creator. J.J. Redick will be missed more than most realize. Brown will have to drastically alter his offense not just to account for Redick’s absence, but also the presence two star big men.
Given the Sixers’ potentially elite defense and overall wealth of talent, though, it seems only a matter of time until Billups comes around on their chances to compete at the top of the league.