Previewing the 2022-23 Philadelphia 76ers
September 30th, 2022
By Alan Lu
After a disappointing second round loss to Atlanta in 2021, the much maligned star point forward Ben Simmons opted to hold out, as he was willing to sit out the season. The 76ers pressed on without him, and they received an MVP-caliber year under Joel Embiid. They also swung a major trade to land James Harden, as they sent away Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond to do so.
Meanwhile, the 76ers went on to win 51 games in the regular season, defeated Toronto in the first round, but lost in their second round series to Miami in 6 games of the 2022 playoffs, as they had yet another disappointing early exit in the postseason.
This year, General Manager Daryl Morey decided to assemble his former Rockets’ crew by getting P.J. Tucker, Montrezl Harrell, Danuel House Jr., Trevelin Queen, and De’Anthony Melton (someone he once drafted) to give their team a new look amidst a makeshift roster around their star players. While this could take away playing time away from some of their younger players on the bench, the 76ers are going all in to pursue the elusive championship, and it’s now or never for their team to try to win it all.
Joel Embiid is a superstar center that had a tremendous season last year. He shot the ball really well, is a great low post scorer, and has really improved his outside shot over the years. He is a good passer and is a strong interior defender, and he’s shown that he can lead a team on both ends of the floor. He’s sometimes been turnover prone and has had defensive breakdowns in the playoffs, but on a daily basis, he’s been one of the best players in the NBA.
James Harden is a very skilled, superstar guard that can really score the basketball, and he is also a very good playmaker. Like Embiid, he does a tremendous job of scoring in the paint and getting to the free throw line, and he is a very efficient offensive player. Harden will need to improve his defense and performance in the playoffs, and he’s slowed down a bit recently, but he’s a star player that can absolutely take over games.
Tyrese Maxey is a speedy, very athletic combo guard that can score the basketball and make plays on offense. He is a gifted scorer that can make shots from anywhere on the floor, and he also can run the point or play off the ball. On the other hand, he will need to improve his defense, and he can sometimes display spotty shot selection. Still, he is a very skilled player that could develop into an All-Star, and he is a very talented playmaker when he is on the floor. Also, Tobias Harris is a versatile combo forward that can score and defend and has put up solid numbers in the regular season, but he’s struggled to consistently play well in the playoffs.
General Manager Daryl Morey brought in a lot of former Rockets to build around Embiid and James Harden, and he wanted a slew of veterans that knew how to play the brand of basketball that popularized Harden when he was in Houston that made him a former MVP award winner. All of the players here are expected to make the roster, and the biggest additions will likely be Melton, Tucker, and Harrell, with House also arriving as a low volume, 3 and D bench player for Philadelphia. They brought in numerous tough, grizzled veterans that will improve the team’s floor spacing and defense that will play their roles and adhere to them on the team.
In the short term, the 76ers will most likely win a lot of regular season games, but they will still need to find ways to adjust for past shortcomings in the playoffs, and they will need to make strategic adjustments and may need to implement a more creative offensive system to get further in the postseason.
The 76ers traded away the injured Danny Green away to Memphis, and let DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap go in free agency, but later found Jordan’s replacement in signing Montrezl Harrell rather than entrusting Paul Reed (or Charles Bassey) to helm the backup center job. Of the three, Danny Green may be missed the most, though he was going to miss this season anyways due to a knee injury, and the 76ers have a lot of bench players as is. Therefore, none of the losses should impact the 76ers that much here.
Champagnie is an athletic, energetic combo forward that projects into a 3 and D role at the NBA level, but he’s struggled to be consistent with his outside shot last year and in the Las Vegas Summer League. He’s most likely going to spend time in the G-League, as there won’t be much playing time due to a crowded roster, but if he can be more consistent with his jump shot and reach his full potential, he could develop into a reliable rotation player in the NBA.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Key Bench Players:
G-F Matisse Thybulle
F-C Montrezl Harrell
G-F Danuel House Jr.
The Rest of the Roster (projected to make the team):
F-C Paul Reed
G-F Furkan Korkmaz
G-F Trevelin Queen
G-F Julian Champagnie (Two-Way)
G-F Charlie Brown Jr. (Two-Way)
Others in Camp:
F-C Michael Foster Jr. (Exhibit 10)
Roster Spots’ Battles:
With 13 guaranteed contracts, that leaves Paul Reed, Charles Bassey, Trevelin Queen, and Isaiah Joe as the four players on non-guaranteed contracts that are likely fighting for two roster spots. The Montrezl Harrell signing may have provided the 76ers a slight boost in the regular season, but it will likely come at the expense of both Paul Reed and Charles Bassey, who will most likely fight each other for one of the last spots on the roster.
Reed and Queen are former G-League MVPs, and Reed was able to get some real run in the playoffs last year. Both Reed and Bassey are high-motor players that have been solid per-minute big men in the NBA, but neither has gained the trust of Doc Rivers yet. Before the Harrell signing, Reed was looking to secure a spot as the backup center, but now his roster spot may be in question, and he’s teetered between looking like the next Larry Nance Jr. and dangerously on the verge of being akin to a Four-A player (in this case, a player that dominates the G-League, but is unable to get much or consistent playing time in the NBA) and winding up in Alize Johnson territory. Reed’s definitely a G-League legend and has had some good NBA games, but he needs to be a more consistent performer to be able to lock down the roster spot this year.
Reed has shown defensive versatility and a better ability to guard quicker players and out on the perimeter, but sometimes has struggled significantly on offense at the NBA level. Bassey offers much more size and arguably more upside, but he has not gained much playing time in the NBA, and he has spent most of his time in the G-League.
Isaiah Joe had a fairly solid rookie season, but struggled in his second year in the NBA, as his shooting percentages mostly took a hit, and he wasn’t able to stick in the rotation despite getting more run. He’s shown promise as an athletic shooting combo guard, but he will need to be more consistent on the floor. Trevelin Queen was tremendous in the G-League last year, and is a taller, more athletic wing that can shoot and defend, and he’s been solid in limited minutes in the NBA, but hasn’t got nearly as much run as Joe at the NBA level.
Jaden Springer only played 6 minutes in the NBA last year. He’s an athletic slasher that didn’t shoot particularly well from the outside in the G-League, and he turned in a disappointing season last year. Right now, he looks to be very far away from developing into becoming a reliable contributor at the NBA level. That said, he’s a 2021 first round pick that is on a guaranteed contract, and he’s still just 19 years old. In terms of production, he’s probably not one of the 15 best players on the roster right now. However, he’s on a guaranteed contract, and has plenty of upside due to his shooting, playmaking, and defensive potential. As long as he hasn’t been traded yet, Springer will likely make the team because he’s on a guaranteed contract.
Therefore, assuming all of the 13 players on guaranteed contracts make the roster, including Jaden Springer, it’ll be a very tough battle between Paul Reed and Charles Bassey, as well as Trevelin Queen and Isaiah Joe. Ideally, the 76ers would keep both Reed and Bassey, but it looks as though that won’t be the case this year, otherwise they wouldn’t have felt the need to sign Harrell this late in the offseason.
I’m predicting Reed to edge out Bassey, and Queen to edge out Joe for the 14th and 15th roster spots, and I think Bassey and Isaiah Joe will latch on somewhere else on two-way contracts in the NBA later this season.
2021-22 (PHI): 51-31, 6-6 in the playoffs
Career: 1043-735, 104-100 in the NBA Playoffs, 1 NBA title as a head coach
Doc Rivers was the head coach of the famed 2008 Boston Celtics’ team that defeated Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers’ squad to win the NBA championship that year. Recently though, he hasn’t had much luck in the playoffs, and he hasn’t been to the Conference Finals since 2012, when he was still with Boston.
Despite helping his team win 51 games in the regular season last year, Doc Rivers has had repeated failures and early exits in the playoffs over the years, much to the chagrin of 76ers’ fans. They were upset in the 2nd Round in 2021 by Trae Young’s upstart Atlanta Hawks team, and they also lost in the 2nd Round last year to Jimmy Butler’s Miami Heat, despite having two of the best superstars in the game in Joel Embiid and James Harden, with another on the rise in Tyrese Maxey. Rivers will help his team win many regular season games, but he must find a way to get his team further in the playoffs, or at least past the second round, now that he’ll have a full season of Embiid and Harden under his belt.
The Philadelphia 76ers have two of the best superstars in the game in Joel Embiid and James Harden, with an up and comer on the rise in Tyrese Maxey, and while Harden has shown signs of slowing down, the 76ers should be able to win many games this year, especially if Embiid and Harden play up to their capabilities. Their management also has given them a crew of new role players that are used to playing in their roles, so there won’t be any excuses this time if the 76ers fall short again in the playoffs.
On the other hand, they may need more creative play-calling on offense and to move to a more modern defensive scheme to adjust to how the game is being played in the playoffs. Doc Rivers needs to prove that he can still lead a team far in the postseason in the modern age, and he definitely has superstars on his team. But if they fall short in the first or second round once again, the 76ers may need more than just a few minor roster tweaks, but they may need to consider more changes if they are unable to get far in the playoffs in 2023.
Projected 2022-23 Win-Loss Record and Finish:
Projected Regular Season Finish: 51-31, 1st in the Eastern Conference
Expected Playoff Finish: Projected to lose in the Eastern Conference Finals to Milwaukee
I went to Basketball-Reference and Spotrac to look up some information for this write-up. It will be an exciting basketball season this year, and the NBA season will start on October 18th. Thank you for reading my write-up of the 2023 Philadelphia 76ers.