As the 2019-20 NBA season rapidly approaches, the Philadelphia 76er fans are waiting to see if the new additions look as good in action as they do on paper. Most importantly 5x all star center/forward Al Horford.
Al Horford, what to expect?
Al Horford’s numbers over the last five seasons have been very consistent. If this holds up in the upcoming season, Al’s good for 13.5ppg and 7.0rpg. Also expect somewhere over 4 assists and about a block a game. Horford is an upgrade defensively compared to last years power forward Tobias Harris. Most noticeably on the block.
Some people believe The Sixers now have a power forward who can stretch the floor and hit 3’s. Just to clear this up, they had one last year in Harris. Tobias is a much better shooter than Horford and only averages about one less board a game. Horford again is the defensive upgrade. Tobias will move to the other forward position after signing a new contract in the off season. For a 6’9 big man the former Celtic, Horford is also capable of bringing the ball up the court. He’s got good handle for a big and a nice patience with the ball that can’t be measured by stats.
We were a shot away from beating the champs so we’re better now right?
I believe the ending to last year’s NBA season was something of an anomaly. I don’t think Toronto would have won the title if Durant and Klay Thompson hadn’t been injured. This is sports however and these things happen and if you capitalize on things like that the record books will reflect it nonetheless. Hell in a decade or two many people won’t remember, and young people who never saw it, will only say The Raptors defeated the vaunted Golden State Warriors.
James Butler, call me Jimmy
Philadelphia was down 1 game to none entering game 2. Most Sixer fans remember game 2 in Toronto vividly. For those who don’t here’s a quick recap. The Sixers are up close to 20 points a few minutes into the 2nd Quarter. The Raptors come back but never get the lead because of Jimmy Butler and his umaided heroics. Toronto never once took the lead in the game. Each time they came close Butler singlehandedly answered his opponent. The rest of the Sixers looked shocked and I don’t care the sport, based on the rest of the team’s body language and demeanor they were shaken badly. They would have lost. When players react like that, it’s over. I firmly believe without Butler in game 2, there would never have been a game 7. That’s not me doing mathematics either saying it would have ended in 6. Maybe it would have, but being down 2-0, after a loss like that, maybe game, set, match. A 4 or 5 game win for Toronto.
Other than losing Butler, Philly also lost J.J Reddick. In trading Butler The 76ers acquire a player in Josh Richardson who is an upgrade on defense over Reddick and last season averaged 16.6ppg. His ppg have gone up in each of his 4 NBA seasons. He only shot 41.2% from the field last season however and is shooting just over 42% for his career. That won’t do for a shooting guard.
Does Horford take Philly to next level?
As the new season gets underway, The Sixers highest paid player is Tobias Harris, followed by Al Horford as the 2nd highest paid 76er. Joel Embiid comes in 3rd. Personally the Horford move isn’t a move I would have made. It might make them better, but it doesn’t in my opinion take them over the top. The only thing that will take Philadelphia to the next level is Ben Simmons atleast becoming a threat to shoot the ball.
The Horford effect in Boston
When Al Horford left Atlanta, the hawks lost 5 more games than they did during his last season with the team. When he joined a good Celtic team, that team won 5 more games than it did in the previous season before they acquired Al. He is a player who’s athleticism is already in decline. If you don’t agree just go watch him jump a few years ago. He can hit 3’s, but only when absolutely open. He takes a set shot that seems like I could get up and grab a beer and come back in time to see if he made it or not in real time.
The big problem.
This years salary cap is at 109.14 Million with a luxury threshold of 132M. The luxury tax apron is at about 139M. This year Philly is spending over 130M. No big problem, but next season when Ben Simmons new contract kicks in, the team will have a payroll of about 150M with just the players they have now. In 2020-21 the cap will be about 116M with a 141M luxury threshold. It will go up again the following season.
What it all means in the end
I am in the minority in that I don’t think signing Al Horford to the years and money was wise. I think Philadelphia’s G.M lost Jimmy Butler and recklessly made a move worried what the fans and media would think or say. Horford is already athletically in decline as I stated earlier. If it continues Philly is stuck with him. No one is going to pickup his contract unless it’s in the final year, and for that to happen Philly would most likely have to give up a 1st rd. Pick.
No matter what happens these players are the Philadelphia76ers for the next 4 seasons. Whether championships, whether injury, these are the Sixer players. Good or bad. If there is a high profile player that would take them to the promised land à la Moses Malone, it won’t financially be possible. The only thing now to take Philadelphia to a championship is a Ben Simmons jumper. That would change everything for every player on the floor, including the opposition.
Your 76ers through 2023
Al Horford wasn’t a difference maker in his prime. He has been an all star and still is a very nice player. He should be a hall of Famer, but that’s mostly for his collegiate play. Philadelphia this upcoming season is better with him than without him. My objection is he is not elite. When that elite player is available the 76ers will not be a player to sign or trade for him. A G.M needs to show patience and weigh moves for more than just the immediate future. Until Ben can shoot this team is only on the cusp and the Horford signing may come back to bite them. This is your Philadelphia 76ers for the next 4 years.