Considering the situation that the prior regime presented him with, Daryl Morey did a fantastic job on Wednesday of molding the Philadelphia 76ers into a much more attractive entity.
Essentially, he undid the work of Elton Brand by trading Josh Richardson and Al Horford, adding shooters, and building a roster that better suits his superstar pair of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, a roster Brett Brown would have liked to coach last year.
That’s the irony of it, the idea that Brand gave a motion offense coach a team of lumbering trees, which obviously did not work and resulted in Brown’s firing. Now Doc Rivers gets a crack at unlocking more of Embiid and Simmons’ potential with a group of complementary players that should open up things on the offensive end.
Morey basically said that outright, early Thursday morning, in a Zoom chat with media following the draft:
“I haven’t been here (for a long time) but Al Horford is a really good player. I know there’s been buzz around fit and things like that, but honestly we tried to sign him with my past team and I don’t like how that went down here because he’s very good. Josh Richardson is the same. I think the theme (Wednesday night) was just, with Seth Curry and (Danny Green), was to try to improve the fit. We went in with a goal of increasing our flexibility. The first move we did allowed the second move with Seth. If we don’t do the first one then the second one isn’t possible. Having a truly elite gravity shooter really changes the dynamic for Ben and Joel and those who have watched the Sixers up close and personal know that when they had that, it’s actually insane how good those lineups and teams played, when everyone was healthy. That was the theme; getting Seth, you could argue he’s the best shooter in the NBA. It was really exciting.”
Nothing crazy there. They jettisoned the guys who don’t fit and built a team around Ben and Joel that does make sense.
I have 25 thoughts on draft night:
- One year of Danny Green at $15 million is infinitely better than three years of Horford at $27 million.
- The first rounder they gave up to move Horford is no big deal. It’s a 2025 with light protections and the championship window will be closed by the time that hits. I’ll be 41 years old.
- Giving up a second rounder in that trade is nothing. It was to be expected.
- Don’t worry about Vasilije Micic. If he was that good, he would be here by now. He’s 26 years old already.
- Danny Green is an unrestricted free agent after this season, so you find yourself with cap flex moving forward.
- Green is pretty much a straight up three and D guy at this point in his career. He doesn’t create his shot or have much of a handle, but he’s an infinitely better fit than Horford.
- Terrance Ferguson is still young, a good defender with some bounciness who might benefit from a change of scenery. They can see what they have in him this year and his contract is cheap and short.
- Seth Curry is 30 years old, but he’s a 44% career three point shooter and a late bloomer. This past season he shot 45.2% from three on five attempts per game, playing 24 minutes on average.
- Curry will be able to do a lot of the things JJ Redick did with Joel Embiid. DHO, two-man game, running with off-ball screens and elevator doors, etc.
- Contract status – Curry has three years remaining at about $8 million per. That’s a very manageable and moveable contract.
- Josh Richardson will be a really nice fit on that Mavericks squad. They needed some bite on the perimeter and he’ll complement Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr.
- Morey mentioned in his presser that he felt like Tyrese Maxey was a lottery pick, and the Sixers lucked out when he dropped to them at #21. Most mock drafts had him in the 15-20 range.
- Maxey only shot 29% from three at Kentucky but that number ballooned into the 40% range against top 25 teams and in road games. He didn’t shoot very well at Rupp for some reason. It’s a bigger arena, more fans, maybe more pressure to play there for freshmen.
- Sixers fans will like Maxey’s game. He reminds me a bit of a mid-career Tyreke Evans, like a guy who can score at all three levels. He is not elite at any one skill but has a nice variety of scoring techniques and likes to get out and move in transition. Should be interesting to watch him fly up and down the floor with Simmons.
- Morey pointed out that Maxey can defend multiple positions, which is something he places a value on.
- Isaiah Joe being available at #49 is a bit of a surprise. The guy shot more than 500 threes in just two college seasons and will pull up from anywhere. He’s small though and needs to build that frame to withstand NBA physicality.
- Paul Reed’s college tape is all over the place, but the guy is an analytics darling and an intriguing prospect for #58 overall.
- They’ll need a back up big to replace Horford. Nerlens Noel, anybody? Norvel Pelle is really the only guy on the roster capable of spelling Embiid right now.
- Horford’s departure opens the door for Tobias Harris to go down and play power forward again. He bounced between the 3 and 4 under Doc Rivers in LA, with Danilo Gallinari influencing that.
- If the Sixers got worse in any department, it might be perimeter defense, depending on how Maxey and Matisse Thybulle look this year. Curry is not Richardson on the defensive end, and even though Danny Green has always been a solid two-way player, he’s now 33 years old and coming off a rough playoff experience in the bubble.
- I thought it was interesting that Morey mentioned Embiid multiple times in his introductory presser but Ben Simmons’ name didn’t come up very often. That was not the case after the draft. Morey seemed equally high on both players. That’s not to say he wouldn’t deal Ben if James Harden became available, but it was more.. “balanced” last night, if anybody cares about those kinds of things.
- It was refreshing to hear Morey explain and reinforce a very simple roster building strategy.
- The GM dropped a quote about establishing a chain of command and handing out responsibilities. He seems to enjoy letting people do what they were hired to do.
- Quick aside – what is with ESPN and the personal tragedies? They did this with the NFL draft, too. This is supposed to be the greatest night in these guy’s lives and you immediately bring up that time their mom died, or their dad got cancer, or when they lost an arm to an alligator. These stories are compelling, but depressing, and should be told in a different setting.
- Anna Horford REALLY hates Sixers fans. To be fair though, some people were total assholes to her.
A little later in his availability, Morey repeated the line about how good the Embiid/Simmons lineups were when properly complemented with shooters.
“It was pretty universal that we needed to add these elements to the team. Honestly, if you go back, it’s completely insane how good some of these Joel/Ben lineups were. Lineup analysis is pretty terrible in general, I’ll be honest, but when you get to 1,200 minute lineups that are playing at historically great abilities to build a lead, it became pretty obvious what the right path was for the roster.”
100%, and we said that multiple times on this website over the past year. The lineups with Robert Covington, Jimmy Butler, Dario Saric, and JJ Redick were so efficient and just worked so much better for Ben and Joel.
Cleaning the Glass pulled some numbers so we don’t have to:
The Simmons/Embiid/Redick trio’s point differential was incredible.
— Cleaning The Glass (@cleantheglass) November 19, 2020
If Curry can be anything close to what Redick was back then, things will be good on the offensive end. They can make it work on the defensive end with Thybulle, Green, Ferguson, and a healthy Ben Simmons able to guard one through three with relative ease.
It was a great night for the Sixers, truly. And if some of these things underwhelm you, you have to remind yourself that they began the day having to unburden themselves from a hideous contract and wonky roster situation. Considering where they started, and where they ended up, you have to say they really knocked it out of the park.