76ers' Top Needs in 2022 NBA OffseasonJune 2, 2022
76ers' Top Needs in 2022 NBA Offseason
The Philadelphia 76ers have an enviable collection of talent, even by NBA elite standards.
Joel Embiid is a perennial MVP candidate. James Harden is a former MVP. Tyrese Maxey appears on the fast track to stardom. Tobias Harris ranks favorably among the best fourth options in recent memory.
Why, then, couldn't this core advance beyond the postseason's second round? Because the team's top talent didn't always deliver in the playoffs, and the supporting cast couldn't provide enough...well, support.
So, despite the fact the Sixers just posted their second consecutive winning percentage north of .600, this could be a busy offseason in Philadelphia. When this front office goes looking for upgrades this summer, the following three areas are clear places to focus on.
A (Non-Max) Resolution to Harden's Contract Situation
Any Philly fans clinging to the notion of Harden being the Sixers' savior should probably take a gander at the Beard's recent production. Sure, no one is sneezing at per-game averages of 22 points and 10.3 assists, but the scoring is down double digits from his peak, and his shooting rates have fallen along with it.
"Obviously, I'm sure since we got him, everybody expected the Houston James Harden, but that's not who he is anymore," Embiid told reporters.
Harden is still a really good player, but his greatness may be gone for good. That creates a fascinating situation to watch with Harden sitting on a $47.4 million player option, per Spotrac.
If he opts out, expect to see a million think pieces regarding the real value of current Harden. The truth is, no one really knows, since it's hard to gauge how much of his decline is age-related and how much is because of the hamstring trouble he struggled to shake. Having said that, the Sixers can't bank max-money hopes on the hamstring being both the sole root of his struggles and something they can fix.
There are whispers he might be open to signing for less than the max, and Philly needs to turn that hope into an actual, non-max contract.
The Sixers looked light on three-and-D wings before this season started.
That problem only worsened over the course of the campaign. Matisse Thybulle's severe offensive limitations rendered him effectively unplayable in the postseason. Then, Danny Green, the lone three-and-D wing on the roster, tore his ACL and LCL during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, which could cost the 34-year-old, at minimum, the majority of next season.
While some teams might prefer wings who play both ends, it's a necessity in Philadelphia.
The subtraction of Ben Simmons plucked away one of the league's most versatile defenders, and the Sixers haven't filled that spot. Thybulle's diminished role, meanwhile, highlighted how little mileage the Sixers might get from a defensive specialist.
For a moment, Philadelphia's longstanding wish for a competent backup for Embiid was finally granted.
Andre Drummond was perfect in the role. He relentlessly attacked the glass, disrupted the opposition's actions on defense and finished his chances around the rim.
Frankly, he might have been too good in that role, since the Brooklyn Nets sought him out in the Harden-Simmons swap. Once Drummond was gone, the Sixers were left spending their non-Embiid minutes discovering how much Paul Millsap has left (very little), how ready Paul Reed is (who knows) and whether they could hold up with Georges Niang at center (absolutely not).
Given Embiid's health history, the Sixers would surely like to keep his regular-season workload as light as possible. They need a competent understudy to do so.