The 2019-20 Philadelphia 76ers in Review

November 11th, 2020

by Alan Lu

The current Philadelphia 76ers logo.
(Photo:
Philadelphia 76ers, via Sports Logo History)

In the 2019 offseason, the 76ers lowballed Jimmy Butler and did not re-sign him, but instead re-signed Tobias Harris and also signed Al Horford, and they acquired Josh Richardson in a multi-team sign-and-trade deal.  It was thought that their size and athleticism would make them one of the toughest, most defensive teams out in the East. 

However, Embiid and Simmons’ styles on offense have clashed as the 76ers didn’t have enough floor spacing this past season, Brett Brown couldn’t get Ben Simmons to shoot nearly enough threes that he desired out of him, and when Simmons went down to a dislocated kneecap, the 76ers couldn’t recover as they ended up getting swept by the Boston Celtics in four games in the first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs, and then head coach, Brett Brown got fired as a result.  Since then, Doc Rivers was hired to be their new head coach, Daryl Morey was hired to be the president of basketball operations, and there is newfound hope that the 76ers can go much further in the playoffs next season.

Philadelphia 76ers’ big men, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons had very good seasons individually, but the 76ers had a disappointing postseason finish, as they were swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics in the 2020 NBA playoffs.
(Photo:
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images, via DraftKings Nation)

F Ben Simmons – B

2020 (PHI): 57 GP, 16.4 PPG, 8.0 APG, 7.8 RPG, 2.1 SPG, 58 FG%, 35.4 MPG, 20.4 PER, 6.9 WS

Ben Simmons had a solid season with the 76ers, and he generally showed very good all-around skills sans an outside shot, but he ended up going down to a dislocated kneecap and missed the playoffs.  The 76ers will wait patiently for him to recover, and he could be back to have another All-Star-caliber season when he does.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Franchise player/Starting point guard or power forward of the Philadelphia 76ers
Projected 2021 Rating: 3.5 stars (4.5 stars potential)

Side note: Simmons has a Poison pill provision in his contract that would make it very difficult to trade him.

Philadelphia 76ers’ superstar center, Joel Embiid has been one of the best players in the Eastern Conference, but many basketball fans were disappointed with the 76ers’ postseason performance, as they were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs.
(Photo:
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images, via Liberty Ballers)

C Joel Embiid – B

2020 (PHI): 51 GP, 23 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.3 BPG, 48 FG%, 33 3PT%, 81 FT%, 29.5 MPG, 25.8 PER, 6 WS

Joel Embiid had a good season with the 76ers this past season.  Though he didn’t quite dominate like he did in 2019, he excelled as a scorer, rebounder, and interior defender, and he also played unselfishly.  He will need to improve his jump shot and cut down on his turnovers, he will likely excel and make the All-Star team once again in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Franchise player/Starting center of the Philadelphia 76ers
Projected 2021 Rating: 3.5 stars (4.5 stars potential)

F Tobias Harris – C+

2020 (PHI): 72 GP, 19.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.2 APG, 47 FG%, 37 3PT%, 81 FT%, 34.3 MPG, 17.2 PER, 6.2 WS

Tobias Harris had his ups and downs in 2020.  He did a good job of shooting and scoring the basketball in the regular season, and he also excelled as a facilitator and rebounder for his team.  He will need to improve his defense and Harris really struggled to make shots in the playoffs, but he could likely provide solid minutes for the 76ers in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting small forward of the Philadelphia 76ers
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

G Josh Richardson – C

2020 (PHI): 55 GP, 13.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.9 APG, 43 FG%, 34 3PT%, 81 FT%, 30.8 MPG, 12 PER, 2.1 WS

Josh Richardson is an athletic, 3 and D combo guard that has struggled to make jump shots consistently this past season with Philadelphia.  His three-point shooting and free-throw shooting percentages went down, and he also struggled to consistently knock down shots in the playoffs.  On the plus side, he is a solid playmaker that is also a capable defender, but he will need to defend as well as he did in 2018 and 2019.  Right now, he projects to be a regular rotation player for the 76ers in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

G Shake Milton – B+

2020 (PHI): 40 GP, 9.4 PPG, 2.6 APG, 2.2 RPG, 48 FG%, 43 3PT%, 78 FT%, 20.1 MPG, 14.4 PER, 2.1 WS

Shake Milton had a very good second-year in the NBA, and he was promoted to being a starter in the Orlando bubble.  He is a sharpshooting combo guard that excelled as a shooter and facilitator for his team, but he will need to improve his rebounding and defense in games.  Milton could be due for much more playing time, as he will look to be a full-time starter next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

C Al Horford – C

2020 (PHI): 67 GP, 11.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 4.0 APG, 45 FG%, 35 3PT%, 76 FT%, 30.2 MPG, 15.7 PER, 5.4 WS

Al Horford is a skilled, veteran center that played fairly well, though he saw a sharp decline in his shooting percentages and scoring this past season.  He still is a very good facilitator and interior defender, but he will need to improve his rebounding, and also get his shooting back to where it used to be.  He also struggled to make shots or to rebound in the playoffs, and there are concerns that Horford may be in the decline stages of his NBA career.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

Matisse Thybulle’s YouTube documentary, “Welcome To The Bubble” was a smash hit, as he recorded what it was like to live in the Orlando bubble as an NBA player. He also had a solid rookie season in 2020.
(Source: YouTube/Matisse Thybulle)

G-F Matisse Thybulle – B

2020 (PHI): 65 GP, 4.7 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 1.2 APG, 42 FG%, 36 3PT%, 61 FT%, 19.8 MPG, 10 PER, 2.3 WS

Matisse Thybulle is an athletic 3 and D role player that had a solid rookie season for the 76ers in 2020.  He is a terrific defensive player that can lock down his man, and he also shoots and passes the ball well.  However, he is still far too passive on offense, and he doesn’t look to take nearly enough shots in games, and Thybulle did not shoot or rebound well in the playoffs.  Right now, he projects to be a rotation player for the 76ers next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

G-F Furkan Korkmaz – B+

2020 (PHI): 72 GP, 9.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 43 FG%, 40 3PT%, 75 FT%, 21.7 MPG, 12 PER, 2.8 WS

Furkan Korkmaz had a very good season as a third-year player with the 76ers, and he is a skilled, sharpshooter that excelled at knocking down shots to help his team on offense.  While he will need to improve in the other facets of the game, his strong ability to shoot and score the basketball could allow him to get a more expanded role on his team next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

G-F Alec Burks – C+ (B- with Golden State, C with Philadelphia)

2020 (TOT): 66 GP, 15 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.9 APG, 42 FG%, 39 3PT%, 89 FT%, 26.6 MPG, 16.7 PER, 3.7 WS
2020 (GSW): 48 GP, 16.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.1 APG, 41 FG%, 38 3PT%, 90 FT%, 29 MPG, 16.1 PER, 2.5 WS
2020 (PHI): 18 GP, 12.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.1 APG, 46 FG%, 42 3PT%, 83 FT%, 20.2 MPG, 19 PER, 1.2 WS

Alec Burks had a good individual season in the NBA, and he experienced personal bests in points and rebounds per game this year.  Burks excelled as an outside shooter and facilitator, but he struggled to consistently make two-point shots or to defend in 2020.  He also did not play well at all in the playoffs, as he shot the ball terribly and didn’t defend well either in the postseason.  Still, Burks has played well enough to earn plenty of rotation minutes somewhere on an NBA team in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Burks will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F Glenn Robinson III – B (B+ with Golden State, C+ with Philadelphia)

2020 (TOT): 62 GP, 11.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.5 APG, 49 FG%, 39 3PT%, 86 FT%, 28.8 MPG, 13.3 PER, 2.9 WS
2020 (GSW): 48 GP, 12.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 48 FG%, 40 3PT%, 85 FT%, 31.6 MPG, 13.1 PER, 2.1 WS
2020 (PHI): 14 GP, 7.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 52 FG%, 33 3PT%, 92 FT%, 19.3 MPG, 14.7 PER, 0.8 WS

Glenn Robinson III had his best season yet in 2020, and the very athletic swingman excelled as a shooter and scorer in a complementary role for both the Warriors and the 76ers.  On the downside, he didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well for Philadelphia, and injuries preventing him from playing in the playoffs this year.  With his vast athleticism and ability to 3 and D, Robinson could end up earning a lot of minutes for the NBA team he chooses to sign with next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Robinson will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F Mike Scott – C+

2020 (PHI): 68 GP, 6.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 43 FG%, 37 3PT%, 81 FT%, 17.8 MPG, 11.2 PER, 2.5 WS

Mike Scott is an athletic, skilled combo guard that excels at knocking down outside shots, and he is a gifted shooter that excels making shots from long-distances.  He also is an unselfish player that will keep the ball moving, but he will need to improve his defense in the meantime, and he didn’t get much playing time in the playoffs.  Most likely, he will earn rotation minutes for Philadelphia next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

G Raul Neto – C

2020 (PHI): 54 GP, 5.1 PPG, 1.8 APG, 45 FG%, 39 3PT%, 83 FT%, 12.4 MPG, 12.7 PER, 1.2 WS

Raul Neto played fairly well as the team’s backup point guard, and he did a good job of shooting and distributing the ball to help his team on offense.  He’ll need to improve his rebound and he’ll have to defend well on a consistent basis, and he also struggled to make shots consistently in the playoffs.  Regardless Neto could be well positioned to compete for rotation minutes on an NBA team next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Neto will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

C Kyle O’Quinn – C

2020 (PHI): 29 GP, 3.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, 49 FG%, 26 3PT%, 55 FT%, 10.8 MPG, 18.6 PER, 1.1 WS

Forever known as the Norfolk State NCAA tournament hero that scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lift his 15th seeded team to an upset win over the 2nd seeded Missouri Tigers in the first round in 2012, O’Quinn has since played very well at the Portsmouth invitational, which allowed him to be a second round pick by the Orlando Magic that year, and he has carved out a solid career as a backup center in the NBA.

O’Quinn excelled as a rebounder, passer, and interior defender, but he struggled to make shots consistently in limited minutes on the 76ers this past season, and he did not play much at all in the playoffs.  He will be an unrestricted free agent, and while it’s uncertain if the 76ers will re-sign him, O’Quinn has the skills to be a backup center in the NBA next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

C Norvel Pelle – C+

2020 (PHI): 24 GP, 2.4 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 52 FG%, 9.7 MPG, 10.5 PER, 0.3 WS

Norvel Pelle is an athletic, high-motor big man that showed off solid rebounding, shot blocking, and interior defensive skills this past season.  Pelle is a solid defender that has the talent to crack the 76ers rotation next season full time, but he will need to improve his scoring and playmaking skills, and he will have to cut down on the number of fouls he commits in games.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

G Zhaire Smith – D-

2020 (PHI): 7 GP, 1.1 PPG, 27 FG%, 0 3PT%, 50 FT%, 4.6 MPG, 1.1 PER, -0.1 WS

He was a 2018 first round pick that was acquired via trade by Philly along with a 2021 first round pick, the 76ers had to send hometown favorite and college champion Mikal Bridges to the Suns in a gamble to acquire Smith and the extra pick, especially since Bridges was the more polished player and could have helped the 76ers right away.  Unfortunately, things have not worked out very well for Smith or Philadelphia in how that trade has played out so far, and as of right now, the Phoenix Suns look to be emphatically winning that trade. 

Early on as a rookie, Smith had an allergic reaction to sesame chicken that nearly killed him, and he’s struggled to find a consistent footing in the NBA ever since.  He did play well in his final two games of his rookie season in the NBA, but he had a deeply disappointing second year with the 76ers, as he only played in 7 games in the NBA this year, and he spent most of the time either in the G-League or in Brett Brown’s doghouse.

Add in that the 76ers have had a deep roster that has made it tough for him to crack the rotation, combined with that other young players have passed him up on the depth chart, it looks to be increasingly unlikely, though not impossible that Smith could be a regular in the 76ers’ rotation one day.  He was a terrific athlete that showed the ability to excel as a two-way player in college at Texas Tech, but Smith needs to find a way to get onto the floor consistently first.  Most likely, he might need to a change of scenery to get that to happen, and it’s uncertain if he’ll get much playing time in the NBA next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2.5 stars potential)

F Ryan Broekhoff (Two-Way Contract) – C (C with Dallas, Incomplete with Philadelphia)

2020 (DAL): 17 GP, 4.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 37 FG%, 39 3PT%, 88 FT%, 10.6 MPG, 13.1 PER, 0.4 WS

He is a skilled, sharpshooter that specializes in knocking outside shots from beyond the arc, and Broekhoff also rebounded the ball well for the Mavericks this past season.  However, he did not make two-point shots at a high rate, and he was waived by the Mavericks midway through the season.  The 76ers signed him for the Orlando bubble but didn’t play him, but Broekhoff could compete for playing time if the 76ers keep him next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

G Marial Shayok (Two-Way Contract) – D

2020 (PHI): 4 GP, 2.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 25 FG%, 33 3PT%, 75 FT%, 7 MPG, 1.4 PER, -0.1 WS

Shayok played very well at Iowa State, and he had a very good showing at the Portsmouth invitational that helped him end up being a 2019 second round pick, as he was selected by the 76ers.  Shayok is a scorer that can put the ball in the hoop, but he didn’t play much this past season in the NBA.  If anything, he showed that he can knock down some outside shots and rebound the basketball, but as there are plenty of players in front of him, it may be tough for him to crack the 76ers’ rotation for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1 stars (2 stars potential)

The Philadelphia 76ers hired Doc Rivers to be their new head coach for the 2020-21 NBA season. Doc Rivers was the head coach of the famed 2008 Boston Celtics’ team that won the NBA championship, but he will try to rebound from coaching the 2020 Clippers that blew a 3-1 series lead against Denver and collapsed in the second round to lose the series in 2020.
(Photo:
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images, via CBS Sports)

Head Coach:
Doc Rivers – 2020 season grade:  C
2020 (LAC): 49-23, 7-6 in the playoffs
Head Coaching career: 943-681, 91-89 in his playoff career, 1 NBA title with the 2008 Boston Celtics

For most of the season, Doc Rivers did a good job coaching the Clippers, and they were amongst the premier contenders throughout the season when they were playing in NBA games.  Though his star players rested a lot throughout the regular season, there was strong belief that the Clippers were a top-3 team in all of the NBA.

 The tide seemed to shift a little bit late in the year, when the Lakers won a decisive game just before the season was canceled due to the coronavirus, and skeptics questioned the fit and chemistry of the Marcus Morris trade when they parted ways with Maurice Harkless to get Morris. 

In the playoffs, the Clippers surprisingly dropped two games in the first round to the Mavericks but they still won in 6 games.  In the 2nd round, the 2020 Clippers got off to a 3-1 lead, but lost their last three games to lose the series in 7 games to a boisterous and upstart, Denver Nuggets squad that were led by Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic.  Doc Rivers has won one title with the 2008 Celtics, but the fact that he’s blown the most 3-1 and 3-2 leads in NBA playoff history may be cause for concern moving forward, though he will get a brand new team in the Philadelphia 76ers to work with.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers

Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

Former head coach:
Brett Brown – C-

There were great expectations placed upon the 2020 Philadelphia 76ers, even though they let Jimmy Butler walk in free agency to the Miami Heat.  The line of thinking was that their size and athleticism would make the 76ers a stellar defensive team, but the 76ers had trouble shooting or scoring the basketball consistently, and with Ben Simmons unable to play in the playoffs due to a dislocated kneecap, the 2020 76ers were swept in four games by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. 

Still, even though Simmons was injured, it seemed as if the 76ers were still too good to not win a game in the playoffs, as they still had superstar Joel Embiid playing, and they are paying lots of money to veterans Tobias Harris and Al Horford in their unsuccessful bid to win this season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Assistant coach in the NBA or professional basketball somewhere
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

2020 Philadelphia 76ers, season grade: C-

The 76ers performed well below their expectations this past season.  Expected to be one of the top teams in the East, they did not win a single game in the 2020 NBA playoffs, and their head coach Brett Brown got fired at the end of their season as a result.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ Projected 2020-21 NBA Rotation

Projected Starters:
Joel Embiid
Ben Simmons
Tobias Harris
Josh Richardson
Shake Milton

Key Reserves:
Al Horford
Furkan Korkmaz
Matisse Thybulle
Alec Burks* (UFA)
Glenn Robinson* (UFA)

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
Mike Scott
The 21st overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
The 34th overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft
The 36th overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft
Zhaire Smith
Marial Shayok (Two-Way Contract)
Ryan Broekhoff (Two-Way Contract)
The 49th overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft
The 58th overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Players that will be Restricted Free Agents:
Norvel Pelle

Players that will be Unrestricted Free Agents:
Alec Burks
Glenn Robinson III
Kyle O’Quinn
Raul Neto

Projected Players Cut from Next Season’s Roster:
None

2020 NBA Draft Picks:
#21, #34, #36, #49, #58

Projected Offseason Plan for the 76ers:

The Philadelphia 76ers were a solid defensive team in 2020, and they also were solid at rebounding and passing the basketball.  While they shot the ball reasonably well during the regular season, they struggled to score in the playoffs, and the 76ers could use shooters to surround Embiid and Simmons in the meantime.  In the draft, who they select may depend on whether or not if they plan to use Simmons at the point, at the four, or somewhere else, but most likely, they will probably take either a swingman or a combo forward that can shoot the basketball. 

The 76ers are capped out, so it’s likely that they will try to bring back players on their team that will be free agents, and then opt to fill the roster with undervalued players on minimum contracts.  They do have five draft picks in the 2020 NBA Draft, but as there might not be enough roster spots, they could opt to take a couple of draft and stash picks with their 49th and 58th selections if they wish to do so.

Expected Regular Season Win-Loss Record in 2021*: 39-33, 6th seed in the Eastern Conference

The 2021 Philadelphia 76ers would play against the 3rd seeded Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs in this scenario, and the 76ers would get to have their grudge match to avenge having gotten swept by the Celtics in 2020.

Expected 2021 Season Outcome: The 76ers are likely to be a solid playoff team out in the East, and they will likely finish with a seed somewhere between 3 and 6 in the 2020-21 season.

(* – The asterisk denotes that the expected regular season win total is adjusted for the 72-game schedule that the NBA will play for the 2020-21 season.  The initial projection for the 76ers was for them to get 44 wins in an 82-game season.  Also, the projected record does not take into account for the NBA draft or free agency, as those events have not happened yet.)

In case if you need the rubric for my player rating system of projecting NBA players for the 2020-21 season, here is the link. In addition, Basketball-Reference, RealGM, and Spotrac were vital information sites that I used to look at player and team statistics, as well as contract information.

Side note: Also, the letter grades attached to the player name was my grade for their 2019-20 season, as it is my judgment of their performance and whether or not they met or exceeded my expectations, and didn’t have much bearing on my projection of how they will perform for the 2020-21 NBA season.

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