We’re a team that’s very versatile on the defensive end…different sizes, different strengths. We have one of the best at the rim players in the league…two of the best — Joel and Boban. This is gonna be a really good defensive team. Tonight, when we were really locked in and solid…we were really good. Just getting that going for us is gonna be big and using that going forward is going to have to be our key. – Tobias Harris after his first game as a 76er.
The Philadelphia Sixers essentially performed a full overhaul of their depth at the trade deadline. The team made multiple moves this week. Trades to acquire Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott, Jonathan Simmons and James Ennis remake the team drastically.
Landry Shamet, Markelle Fultz, Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler were moved out. This shuffling could significantly impact the way the Sixers match up with other Eastern Conference rivals.
If there is one big takeaway, the Sixers got physically larger and stronger with this move while acquiring a near all star in Harris.
“The work is not done, we want to bring a championship to our fans, and thats the goal.” – Elton Brand
When they Zig
You get the sense that the Sixers intend to physically dominate and force opposing point guards into problems on the other end. It’s an interesting approach to go ultra big in a league that has gone progressively smaller and smaller.
When asked about defending opposing point guards with a lineup that got bigger, Brand pointed to Jonathan Simmons
“He’s a tenacious defender” Said Brand when discussing Simmons’ ability to defend perimeter scorers.
This “block out the sun” technique is interesting given the league-wide obsession with going smaller and smaller and spacing the floor.
“What wins in the playoffs, it’s men, can you switch and can you make a 3?” Brett Brown on what qualities he looks for in help on the team heading into the Deadline and buyout season.— J Blevins (@JBlevinsPFO) February 5, 2019
These moves move out two guards who, at the start of the season, looked like key parts of the franchises’ future. Landry Shamet exceeded all expectations over the season and turned himself into a legitimate asset that some could frame as an overpay for Tobias Harris.
Fultz also is the obvious sunk cost move that hurts in the context of the cost of acquisition. Jonathan Simmons seems to be a weapon that Elton believes can help and the future first from Oklahoma City somewhat wipes away the sins of the Ajes Pasecniks trade.
There are a lot of little wrinkles that can be viewed as erasing the sins of the Colangelo era. There are other ways, such as enabling a Clippers late tank to open the door for a Sacramento Kings playoff run that could be viewed as hurting the Celtics.
The Bigger Picture
The Sixers traded the Sacramento 2019 first and their own #3 pick in the 2017 draft to move up to draft Fultz. At the time, the Kings picked looked to be super valuable but as De’Aaron Fox has emerged, the Kings are a real contender for the 8th playoff seed in the West.
The Celtics also own the Clippers first round pick unless it is in the lottery this year and next. Should the Clippers miss the playoff for the next 2 seasons, the pick becomes 2 second rounders.
Additionally, by enabling the Clippers to free up cap space, they become much more legitimate contenders in the Kawhi Leonard free agency hunt this summer. Should Kawhi leave for LA, the Toronto Raptors will be gutted and left with aging vets such as Marc Gasol and Kyle Lowry.
The Home Stretch
The Sixers have 28 games to integrate these parts into a cohesive unit. The Team will rely on size and strength advantages to try to physically dominate opponents.
Questions about re-signing Harris and Butler will wait for July but Elton Brand has positioned the team to make a compelling case for Eastern Conference dominance for the foreseeable future.