The Philadelphia 76ers made a splash at the 2019 NBA Trade Deadline, acquiring Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers in a multi-player deal. The Sixers add Harris to a starting lineup of Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid, widely regarded as the best starting five in the Eastern Conference. So far, through two games, this unit is proving that to be true.
Since the arrival of Harris, the 76ers have won both of their games against top teams in the Western Conference. A 117-110 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday was followed by a 143-120 rout over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Sixers look more dangerous than ever and ready to contend for a championship.
Not to be left unnoticed, the Sixers added much-needed depth to an extremely weak bench unit over the deadline as well. Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott, James Ennis III and Jonathon Simmons add a lot of versatility and veteran experience to a Sixers bench that needed help.
With high expectations for the remainder of the season, here are three bold predictions for the Philadelphia 76ers’ 2019 season.
3. All Five Starters Will Average Over 17 PPG
The Philadelphia 76ers have arguably the most versatile and intriguing starting lineup in the NBA, up there with the Golden State Warriors. Joel Embiid is the best big man in the league, averaging 27.3 points and 13.5 rebounds per game en route to an MVP-caliber season. Newly-acquired forward Tobias Harris averages 20.7 PPG, showcasing his elite ability to get buckets from just about anywhere on the floor.
Star two-way player Jimmy Butler has the tools to fill it up whenever called upon, averaging 19.3 PPG on the year. Veteran sharpshooter JJ Redick averages 18.6 PPG on the year as well. All-Star point guard Ben Simmons is the least prolific scorer of the bunch, but still averages 16.8 points per game. If these averages keep up, the Philadelphia 76ers could potentially have all five of their starters average over 17 PPG by season’s end.
This team’s ability to attack you with anyone of these five guys on any given night is scary, and the chemistry between them all will only improve as the season progresses. There will always be questions surrounding touches and who’s getting the ball in crunch time, which is normally a good problem to have.
The addition of Harris had added another dimension to the 76ers offense. Harris can be used all over the floor and really score from anywhere as well. Team’s used to be able to hide their worst defender on the likes of Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala, but the acquisition of Tobias Harris doesn’t allow this anymore.
This will only open up shots and opportunities for the other four starters on the court. All five starters for the 76ers could average over 17 PPG this season.
2. The Sixers Will Sign A Buyout Point Guard
After improving their bench at the trade deadline, the Philadelphia 76ers still have a few holes in their rotation they need to address. The backup point guard spot is a position that could become an issue come playoff time.
Fan-favorite guard TJ McConnell holds down that role for the time being, and although he has been solid, McConnell is somewhat of a liability on the defensive end. His lack of size and strength often makes him a mismatch teams choose to attack. A defensive-minded point guard is extremely important to the Sixers’ lasting success.
McConnell thrives in a spark-plug, sporadic playing time role anyways, and having him as a third-string point guard would be a sign of extreme wealth for Philadelphia.
Veteran PG’s Jeremy Lin and Shelvin Mack are already off the board, signing with the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets respectively. With limited options for the team to look at as the buyout market winds down, the Sixers will need to act quick in this regard.
Patrick Beverley of the Los Angeles Clippers is a potential option and a seamless fit for the Sixers, but that’s only if he’s bought out by the Clippers, who are in pursuit of a playoff appearance. Nonetheless, options will arise as the buyout window continues, and the Philadelphia 76ers need to act quick when the opportunity arises.
1. The Philadelphia 76ers Will Make The NBA Finals
Behind the best starting lineup in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers will make an NBA Finals appearance this season. In the top-heavy East, the playoffs project to be seven-game dog-fights between the Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks, 76ers, and Boston Celtics. With Finals appearances on the line, these playoff series’ will certainly be a sight to watch.
However, the 76ers versatile and dynamic starting five can lead them past other contenders, as they are extremely difficult to match up with. An improved bench helps as well.
However, the Sixers’ addition of Harris to an already top-heavy lineup is far more impactful. Joel Embiid is the best big man and one of the best overall players between these four teams, and he alone will do enough to keep the Sixers in games. Now, factor in Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, JJ Redick and Tobias Harris around him. The Philadelphia 76ers will be extremely scary come playoff time, and have a real chance to knock off the Warriors in a potential NBA Finals match-up.