As the 2019-20 NBA season kicks off, I’d like to Express my views in this Sixers preview. The additions and subtractions. The importance of Al Horford and the continuing maturation of Josh Richardson.
Everyone who stops to read this knows Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors defeated The Philadelphia 76ers on a buzzer beater in game 7 of the East Semifinals on their way to winning an NBA title for Toronto
No Butler/No Game 7
Alot of people think the 76ers are better this season. They think The Sixers were one shot away from winning the championship. I’m not one of those people. Atleast in believing the reasoning most give for the upcoming season. One thing just because you defeat one opponent doesn’t mean you automatically defeat everyone they went on to defeat.
Toronto was down 2-0 to Milwaukee, and won game 3 in double OT. If that game goes different and Toronto loses and goes down 3-0. They probably lose to The Bucks in 4 or 5 games. Another thing is The Warriors players might not have fell the same way leading to injury against another opponent.
Let’s say for arguments sake that Philly did go on and defeat the teams Toronto did. Without Jimmy “James” Butler there would not have been a game 7. There may not even been a game 6. There are few reasons for this thinking, most of them occurring in game 2 of that series vs. The Raptors.
Sixers get Horford
Al Horford is a good player. An all star caliber player. That is, of course depending on the players at his position, in his conference, in a given year. He is not an elite player. Does he make the 76ers better this upcoming season? Yes he does.
Horford’s best qualities as a player are he is smart. He’ll usually make the smart play with the ball in his hands. Al can also bring the ball up the court if need be. He adds better post offense and defense overall. He is not a better rebounder than Tobias Harris at the 4, or a better shooter contrary to what some seem to think.
The other forward position, which will be taken by the aforementioned Harris is downgraded in every possible facet of play compared to Jimmy Butler.
What I think of Horford
People seem to use the trouble Horford gave Embiid as the reason the Sixers are better. Aaron Mckie was a very good defender when he played in the league. No one is putting him on a list of the best defenders of all time. Kobe Bryant has stated on many occasions that Aaron Mckie gave him more trouble than anyone else he ever played against. Mckie wasn’t the best defender Kobe faced, but gave him more trouble than better defenders. IT JUST BE LIKE THAT SOMETIMES!
I see Horford on Embiid as a similar comparison. Horford is a good defender, but maybe not as good as some think around Philadelphia. He was named to one all defensive team. That was a couple years ago, it was a 2nd team selection.
The Hawks when losing Horford, lost 5 more games than his last season with Atlanta. In the end they did no worse than the previous season. In a comparative contrast when joining Boston, Tito helped them win 5 more games than the season before he became a Celtic. Boston also never went any farther with him than they had before acquiring him. It’s my opinion he’s not a player who takes you over the top. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I am.
The importance of Josh Richardson
Josh Richardson, who was a part of the Jimmy Butler trade. Coming to Philadelphia from Miami, Richardson has improved every season since his freshman year in Knoxville.
Richardson in Miami
The Heat drafted Richardson with the 40th overall selection of the 2015 NBA Draft. After being named 1st team SEC as a Senior and All defensive SEC his Junior and Senior Seasons. In his 4th NBA season Josh averaged a career high 16.6 ppg on 41.2% from the field.
If Josh Richardson can get his field goal percentage up and also increase his scoring output as he has in every season, he could become an all star caliber player. No one really knows what Josh’s ceiling is. Which is great for 76er’s fans. What we know are the 2 best shooters in Reddick and Butler are gone. After his defense jump shooting is going to be crucial in the importance of Josh Richardson as it applies to 76ers.
What we know and how to get THERE
We know the defense overall is improved. We also know that is what wins championships. You got to be able to score the ball though. You are going to have to hit jumpers in the postseason. Hopefully Ben Simmons comes with an improved shooting game that included him actually shooting the ball. This happens in the offseasons.
Ben won’t go from no shot to a good shot in one year, but hopefully when playoff time comes around and guys like Giannis play Simmons to drive, this time he makes teams pay. If the best defenders know you won’t shoot, they aren’t going to let you put the ball on the floor. This year they’ll give him the shot, hopefully he makes them pay. Combine that with the best of the East losing talent or not improving, Philly has a chance to go farther and be better seeded this year. It is my opinion that combined with Simmons shot, the further maturation of Josh Richardson will be the difference in the end, more so than Al Horford.