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The 76ers Are Too Big To Succeed

The 76ers are too big to succeed (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Elton Brand claims to have a plan, or at least Chad Bauman says that he has a plan. That plan now appears to have taken shape. Tobias Harris and Mike Scott returned in free agency. Philadelphia also added Josh Richardson, Al Horford, and Matisse Thybulle. JJ Redick, Boban Marjanovic, and Jimmy Butler departed via free agency. That’s been the 76ers summer in a nutshell. One thing is very clear. The 76ers are very big. The problem is they are too big.

Elton Brand is the gm for Philly. This team kind of looks like Elton Brand. Big bruiser down low. The starting five should be Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid. Simmons is 6-foot-10, Harris is 6-9, Horford is 6-10, and Embiid is 7-foot. While the rest of the NBA has gone small, Philly went big. This is a recipe that has disaster written all over it.

Last year the 76ers ranked 24th in the NBA in turnover percentage. Philly also ranked 28th in the NBA in forcing turnovers. That was with Jimmy Butler who is considered a great perimeter defender. Butler now gets replaced by Al Horford. Another big that can handle the ball but not nearly as well as Butler. With the NBA up and down style, Philly is going to leave a lot of points out there on the floor. Failing to create turnovers is one thing. Not having a team that can get up and down the floor is worse. Swapping out Horford for Butler makes Philly slower.

I don’t understand the Horford fit, minus the fact that Brand clearly likes bigs. Butler needed more time with this group that clearly didn’t have enough time to gel. This is a team that was one lucky bounce away from going to the Eastern Finals and lost to a team that won the NBA Finals. It seems crazy that the 76ers wouldn’t just bring back that group. Butler was the guy who was the closer. Butler was the best pure scorer at all three levels Philly had. Now Butler is gone and replaced by Horford. That puts pressure on Ben Simmons to be able to shoot. It has to happen now. Philly has been putting Simmons in the post and Embiid outside because Simmons can’t shoot. With Horford now on the roster, that’s not really an option to put both Embiid and Horford outside. If Simmons can’t shoot this upcoming season, this roster construction is a total disaster.

One of the best ingredients the 76ers had was dribble handoffs with Embiid and JJ Redick. The Embiid and Redick dribble handoff combo resulted in a 1.05 points per possession which led the league for any duo in the entire league. Redick was the most important shooter on this roster. He’s no longer there. Instead, Josh Richardson is in town. Now, I like Richardson, but he’s not the shooter Redick is. Redick made 39.7 percent of his 3-point attempts in 2018-19. Richardson converted 35.7 percent of those. Maybe it cancels out because Richardson is the better defender. However, the chemistry Redick had with Embiid cannot be understated. I’m not sure that can be replaced.

One thing the 76ers did really well was rebound the ball. Horford does not help that stat. In fact, Horford is a horrible defender for his size. Horford notched just 6.7 rebounds per game a year ago. It’s the biggest reason why I can’t stand watching him. That was as Boston’s biggest starter. Horford’s verticality is in decline. He’s also extremely soft inside. Horford gets bullied on the boards by almost anyone. Now Horford just got $109 million in his age 33 season. Maybe the first year is okay, but there’s no doubt that this contract will age poorly. Horford’s best attribute is as a playmaking big. Philly already has that with Ben Simmons. I don’t see the fit with Horford. It feels like the 76ers only signed Horford because he was the one guy who defended Embiid very well. That’s not a great reason to overpay for an aging player.

Where is the shooting outside of Josh Richardson? Where is the bench player that blows you away? Zhaire Smith, Kyle O’Quin, Mike Scott, Shake Milton, James Ennis, and Matisse Thybulle is not a group that inspires a ton of confidence. Elton Brand had a plan. I’m just not sure how his plan makes any sense. The 76ers are too big to win a championship with this group.

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