Reviewing The 2021 Philadelphia 76ers

July 16th, 2021

By Alan Lu

The Philadelphia 76ers won 49 of their 72 games in the regular season, and they managed to get the best record in the Eastern Conference.  They far outpaced their expected win totals in the regular season, and they easily handled the Wizards in 5 games in the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs.

However, the 76ers were upset by the 5th seeded Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, which leaves open a lot of questions that may need to be answered.  The 76ers will need to figure out if they can win a title with both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as their best players or not, and if they can do so with head coach Doc Rivers at the helm.

Joel Embiid played very well in the regular season, but his team really disappointed as they ended up losing in the second round to the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs this year.
(Photo:
Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)

C Joel Embiid
2021 (PHI): 51 GP, 28.5 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1 SPG, 51 FG%, 38 3PT%, 86 FT%, 30.3 PER, 64 TS%, 8.8 WS, .266 WS48

He had a strong all-around year in the regular season, and he placed 2nd in the MVP voting.  However, he struggled with his playmaking and defense in the playoffs, but he was still very reliable as a scorer in the postseason this year.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting center on the Philadelphia 76ers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 4 stars

Ben Simmons excelled as a facilitator and defender throughout the regular season, but his lack of shooting and free throw shooting woes frustrated many people throughout the postseason.
(Photo:
Yong Kim/The Philadelphia 76ers)

G-F Ben Simmons
2021 (PHI): 58 GP, 14.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 6.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, 56 FG%, 61 FT%, 18.3 PER, 58 TS%, 6 WS, .153 WS48

He provided very good playmaking and defensive skills in the regular season, but in the playoffs he didn’t take nearly enough shots, as he was entirely too passive on offense, and he was especially terrible at the free throw line.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting point forward on the Philadelphia 76ers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3.5 stars (4 stars)

F Tobias Harris
2021 (PHI): 19.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.5 APG, 51 FG%, 39 3PT%, 89 FT%, 20 PER, 60 TS%, 7.1 WS, .170 WS48

He played very well both during the regular season and in the playoffs, and he shot the ball much better than expected, but he struggled to make as many shots or to defend in his team’s second round loss to the Hawks.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting small forward on the Philadelphia 76ers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars

G Seth Curry
2021 (PHI): 57 GP, 12.5 PPG, 2.7 APG, 2.4 RPG, 47 FG%, 45 3PT%, 90 FT%, 12.9 PER, 4 WS, .118 WS48

He thrived as a shooter and scorer this year, but his team seemed to struggle defensively more with him out there in his team’s second round loss to the Hawks.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

G-F Danny Green
2021(PHI): 69 GP, 9.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, 41 FG%, 41 3PT%, 78 FT%, 12.1 PER, 58 TS%, 4.6 WS, .115 WS48

He really excelled as a shooter and defender this past season, but he struggled to knock down shots before getting injured in the second round series to the Hawks this year.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Green will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

Matisse Thybulle defended well all throughout the regular season, but he also made a costly defensive mistake late in Game 7 in his team’s second round series against the Atlanta Hawks.
(Photo:
Kate Frese/Philly Voice)

G-F Matisse Thybulle
2021 (PHI): 65 GP, 3.9 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 1 APG, 42 FG%, 30 3PT%, 44 FT%, 10.1 PER, 51 TS%, 2.8 WS, .102 WS48

He defended very well in the regular season, but he didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well, and he was known for committing a bad foul on a three-point shot in Game 7 of the second round series against the Hawks.

2021 Season Grade: B-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Philadelphia 76ers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

G-F Furkan Korkmaz
2021 (PHI): 55 GP, 9.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.5 APG, 40 FG%, 38 3PT%, 73 FT%, 12.8 PER, 54 TS%, 2 WS, .092 WS48

Korkmaz generally shot the ball well, and he passed and defended better in the regular season as well.  On the other hand, he struggled to knock down shots in the playoffs, though.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Philadelphia 76ers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

Korkmaz will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Shake Milton
2021 (PHI): 63 GP, 13.0 PPG, 3.1 APG, 2.3 RPG, 45 FG%, 35 3PT%, 83 FT%, 14.6 PER, 55 TS%, 2.8 WS, .091 WS48

He played a key role on his team this year, and he provided shooting and playmaking skills for them, usually off the bench.  He didn’t quite shoot the ball as well as he did last year, and he seemed to struggle to make shots consistently in the playoffs this year.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Philadelphia 76ers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

G George Hill
2021 (OKC/PHI): 30 GP, 8.7 PPG, 2.4 APG, 2 RPG, 48 FG%, 39 3PT%, 80 FT%, 13.1 PER, 60 TS%, 1.4 WS, .100 WS48

George Hill didn’t play in as many games this year due to injuries, but he shot the ball very well in the regular season, but he struggled to knock down shots in his team’s second round series loss in the playoffs this year.

2021 Season Grade: C+ (B w/OKC, C- w/PHI)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Hill’s contract is non-guaranteed for next season.

Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey had a solid rookie season this past year.
(Photo:
Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports, via Section 215)

G Tyrese Maxey
2021 (PHI): 61 GP, 8.0 PPG, 2.0 APG, 1.7 RPG, 46 FG%, 30 3PT%, 87 FT%, 14.5 PER, 53 TS%, 1.9 WS, .099 WS48

Maxey played fairly well, and he started off hot right out of the gates.  He is a very athletic combo guard that showed that he can score and pass the basketball, but he will need to improve his three-point shot and his defense.  His play was inconsistent in the playoffs, but Maxey played better than expected, and he had a very good rookie season.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Philadelphia 76ers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

C Dwight Howard
2021 (PHI): 69 GP, 7 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 59 FG%, 58 FT%, 17.8 PER, 61 TS%, 4 WS, .159 WS48

Howard excelled as an interior player during the regular season, but he really struggled defensively in the playoffs, especially against the Hawks because he and his team would be too slow to guard opponents.  They would be forced to use drop coverages, which would allow Lou Williams and Trae Young to get wide open floaters.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Howard will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

F Mike Scott
2021 (PHI): 51 GP, 4.2 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 36 FG%, 34 3PT%, 67 FT%, 6.8 PER, 49 TS%, 1 WS, .058 WS48

He is a floor spacing, combo forward that was much maligned in Philly for not shooting the ball well this past season, which may have blocked more promising young players behind him, yet he was getting regular playing time due to his ability to space the floor.  He improved defensively, but he didn’t play much at all in the playoffs.

2021 Season Grade: D
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Scott will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Isaiah Joe
2021 (PHI): 41 GP, 3.7 PPG, 36 FG%, 37 3PT%, 75 FT%, 9.5 PER, 53 TS%, 0.6 WS, .078 WS48

He played fairly well, and Joe played well enough to be a rotation player for the 76ers for a while.  He showed off a solid three-point shot, and he is a scorer that can shoot and space the floor.  He didn’t play as much late in the year, but Joe certainly played better than expected.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2.5 stars potential)

Philadelphia 76ers’ Paul Reed was named the 2021 G-League MVP, and the 76ers will be hoping that he can turn this positive momentum to help him become a steady rotation player for them in the near future.
(Photo:
Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images, via Liberty Ballers)

F-C Paul Reed
2021 (PHI): 26 GP, 3.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 54 FG%, 50 FT%, 21.2 PER, 54 TS%, 0.6 WS, .162 WS48
2021 (G-League): 15 GP, 22.3 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.9 SPG, 1.8 BPG, 59 FG%, 44 3PT%, 79 FT%, 30.6 PER, 66 TS%, 2.4 WS, .242 WS48

Paul Reed had a fairly solid rookie season, and he especially shined in the G-League.  He was named both the G-League MVP and Rookie of the Year this season, and he was terrific at that level.

He didn’t play quite as much as expected in the NBA this year, but Reed showed off great energy and a very good motor, as well as promising defensive skills.  He’ll need to continue to work on his outside shot, but he could project well into a defensive specialist role in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2.5 stars potential)

Reed’s contract is non-guaranteed for next season.

G-F Rayjon Tucker (Two-Way) – C+
2021 (PHI): 14 GP, 2.4 PPG, 50 FG%, 29 3PT%, 74 FT%, 15.1 PER, 64 TS%, 0.2 WS, .166 WS48
2021 (G-League): 15 GP, 19.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.2 SPG, 43 FG%, 30 3PT%, 83 FT%, 14.4 PER, 62 TS%, 0.5 WS, .050 WS48

He is a very athletic swingman that can finish plays above the rim, and he passed the ball fairly well this year, but he didn’t play much at the NBA level, and he will need to improve his outside shot and defense.

Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

F Gary Clark (Two-Way)
2021 (ORL/DEN/PHI): 39 GP, 3.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 30 FG%, 29 3PT%, 80 FT%, 6 PER, 44 TS%, 0.1 WS, .008 WS48

He is a role player that is known for his defense and he can provide some floor spacing skills, but he didn’t play very well in the NBA this past season.

2021 Season Grade: D- (D- w/ORL, I w/ DEN and PHI)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

F-C Anthony Tolliver
2021 (PHI): 11 GP, 1.5 PPG, 24 FG%, 29 3PT%, 83 FT%, 4 PER, 43 TS%, 0.1 WS, .025 WS48

Anthony Tolliver is an energetic big man that can space the floor for his teams on offense.  He didn’t play very well at all, but at the same time, he barely got any run on the court, which made it difficult for him to get into a rhythm in the limited time he was on the court this year.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Tolliver’s contract is non-guaranteed for next season.

Head Coach:
Doc Rivers
2021 (PHI): 49-23, 7-5 in the playoffs
Coaching career: 992-704, 98-94, won 1 NBA championship with the 2008 Boston Celtics

The Philadelphia 76ers won 49 games in the regular season to get the first seed in the East, but they were a massive disappointment in the playoffs, as they lost in the second round to the 5th seeded Atlanta Hawks this year.
(Photo:
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images, via Sixers Wire – USA Today)

Doc Rivers helped lead the 2021 76ers to 49 wins, which was the most in the Eastern Conference in the regular season.  He was able to get a near-MVP year out of Joel Embiid, and his team shot the ball and defended well in the regular season.

However, he and his team were very disappointing in the playoffs.  He did not make any adjustments, and he was too stubborn in his lineup choices and schemes, so then in critical situations, he wouldn’t match up to his opponents or try to create mismatches.  On offense, it would just bog down to static dump downs for Embiid.  The 76ers really struggled to score or to defend in their second round series, and they and their fanbase just seemed to pin most of their collective blame on Ben Simmons, as he was reluctant to shoot, and he couldn’t make his free throws, but it seemed to be the easy way out.

There were also a lot of other issues with the 76ers as well.  Joel Embiid has ball stopping tendencies on offense, and his immobility was exposed on defense.  Matisse Thybulle’s gambling tendencies on defense got exposed late in this series, as he committed a bad foul on a three-point shot while trying to block it that sealed his team’s fate for the worse.  Dwight Howard seemed to play entirely too much and was ineffective in the second round, as he missed easy shots, and he would get roasted defensively.  Ultimately though, Doc Rivers did not do nearly enough to try to help his team win in the 2021 NBA playoffs.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

After a very disappointing 2021 NBA playoffs, Doc Rivers could be on the hot seat for next season, especially if they flounder in the postseason next year once again.

A Brief Summary of the 2020-21 Philadelphia 76ers’ Season:

They won a lot of games during the regular season, but it seemed to only set them up for a massive letdown in the playoffs.  The 2021 76ers were outplayed, outcoached, and outhustled by a younger, quicker, and more energetic Atlanta Hawks’ team in the playoffs, and the 76ers’ playoff loss will surely linger on their minds in the offseason.

The 2020-21 Philadelphia 76ers’ Season Grade: C-

The Philadelphia 76ers’ Projected 2021-22 NBA Rotation:

Projected Starters:
C Joel Embiid
F Ben Simmons
F Tobias Harris
G Matisse Thybulle
G Seth Curry

Key Reserves:
G Shake Milton
G-F Furkan Korkmaz
G Tyrese Maxey
G George Hill

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
G Isaiah Joe
F-C Paul Reed
The 28th Overall Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
G-F Rayjon Tucker (Two-Way)
The 50th Overall Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft

Impending Unrestricted Free Agents:
G-F Danny Green – Not Expected Back
G-F Furkan Korkmaz – Expected Back
C Dwight Howard – Not expected Back
F Mike Scott – Not Expected Back

Projected Players Cut From Next Season’s Roster:
F Gary Clark (Two-Way)

2021 NBA Draft Picks:
#28, #50

Projected Offseason Plan for the Philadelphia 76ers:
They don’t have any cap space to work with, so they will probably work on Ben Simmons’ jump shot and free throw shooting in the offseason to make him better complement Embiid’s skills, and they also could look to get more athletic wing players that can shoot, defend, and create their shot on offense.

The 2022 Philadelphia 76ers’ Expected Win-Loss Record, and Projected 2022 Season Finish:
52-30, 2nd in the Eastern Conference in 2022

Expected 2022 Season Outcome:
The 2022 Philadelphia 76ers are expected to finish at or near the top of the standings next year, but they’ll need to coach, shoot, and defend better to be able to make a deep playoff run next season.

I primarily went to Basketball-Reference and No Trade Clause for research purposes. For more information on my ratings scale and how I rate NBA players and coaches, you can find it here. Thanks for reading.

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