By Jack Ryan
The Sixers had a great offseason.
Maybe the best of any team in the NBA.
But of course they had a lot of holes to fill after they underachieved and were bounced out of the first round of the playoffs last summer by the Celtics.
2020 NBA Draft: Tyrese Maxey (21), Isaiah Joe (49), Paul Reed (58)
The 76ers had a surplus of low picks from previous dealings, with a few of those getting traded, but it was their 21st pick that they monitored closely. Philly knew it could still get some good value from that pick and was surprised when a stud like Tyrese Maxey dropped that far.
Mock drafts had the former Kentucky Wildcat going in the top 20, but he somehow slipped through the cracks of the other teams. The Sixers took the best talent available at the time.
Maxey’s 29.2 percent shooting clip from distance in his one-and-done college career doesn’t do him justice. He should be able to improve and be a weapon in the backcourt.
Isaiah Joe could also be a scorer off the bench, while Paul Reed is an athletic big man who will provide frontcourt depth.
Trades: Danny Green, Seth Curry, Terrance Ferguson, Tony Bradley
The 76ers’ biggest need heading into the offseason was their lack of reliable snipers. Defenses keyed in on JoJo down low and Simmons when he drove to the hoop simply because there weren’t many consistent shooters they could kick the ball out to on the perimeter.
Morey addressed that need instantly, acquiring Danny Green and Seth Curry in separate deals.
The younger Curry, of course, lit up defenses for the Dallas Mavericks last year with his sensational 45.2 percent clip from downtown. Green, meanwhile, recently captured the third NBA title of his career playing as a starter for the Los Angeles Lakers. His 3-and-D abilities should provide great assistance to Embiid and Simmons.
Terrance Ferguson also came over in that Green trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 22-year-old swingman has been a disappointment in his NBA career thus far, but he brings athleticism and shooting potential.
Finally, Tony Bradley was acquired from the Detroit Pistons for some frontcourt depth.
Free agency: Dwight Howard
Apart from getting some much-needed shooters, the 76ers knew they had to get another reliable 7-footer who could give Embiid a breather. Enter Dwight Howard.
Morey’s persuasive powers were again on display, as he reportedly pounced the moment communications between Howard and the Lakers hit a snag.
Howard’s career was revitalized last season as part of the Lakers’ 17th franchise banner. The veteran big man will now try to help Philly get back to championship glory.
Subtractions: Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Zhaire Smith
It wasn’t that long ago when the 76ers were praised for obtaining Horford and Richardson from the market to bolster their starting five. However, Horford’s fit with Embiid was questioned from the get-go. Philly’s disastrous roster construction last year had a lot to do with its troubles.
Morey was wise to blow that whole thing up, flipping Horford, the No. 34 pick (Theo Maledon), a lightly protected 2025 first-round pick and the draft rights to Serbian guard Vasilije Micic for Green and Ferguson.
Losing Richardson does sting, especially since he has the ability to cover the opposing team’s best perimeter player. However, he did underwhelm offensively. Richardson was a nice two-way guy for the team, but Curry does fit all their needs at the moment with his elite shooting. The No. 36 pick (Tyler Bey) went to Dallas alongside Richardson.
Smith just never found his niche in Philly due to injuries, so he was shipped out in the Bradley trade.
The 76ers are truly one of the biggest winners of the 2020 offseason. Their aggressive dealings definitely made them a much better team — at least on paper.
Morey understood the underlying problems on the roster and made the right adjustments. While Green did get flak for his poor shooting in the Finals, his championship experience will be crucial for this young team. Horford might be a better overall player than Howard at this stage of their careers, but it’s clear that the latter is a much better fit.
Perhaps Philly’s biggest decisions are the moves not made involving the superstar tandem of Embiid and Simmons. Some pundits called for a breakup of the duo following their most recent playoff letdown.
Morey, however, made the right choice of giving the pair at least one more go to see if they can really bring the Philadelphia 76ers to new heights.