Although there are no shortcuts to success in the NBA, there are several steps that the 76ers could take this summer to return to relevancy starting next season. A team transformation won’t happen overnight, but a combination of smart drafting and sound signings could greatly expedite the Sixers’ climb back to the East’s elite.
The first step for the Sixers’ return to relevancy is to cut ties with all of the players who have expiring contracts this summer, including Andrew Bynum.
Signing Bynum will handcuff the franchise financially for several seasons, and the big guy has shown no indications that he is able, or even motivated to perform for the 76ers. This move also means saying goodbye to the inconsistencies of Nick Young, Dorell Wright, and Royal Ivey. I would understand if the team wanted keep Damien Wilkins around as a veteran presence.
Next, the franchise needs to go after a couple quality free agents. The Sixers will have some cap space, and though there aren’t many superstars that can single-handedly fix a franchise hitting the market this summer, there are several impact players available. The franchise should focus on signing both O.J. Mayo and J.J. Hickson. Both make around $4 million this season, and while both will be due for a pay increase, singing the two together shouldn’t break the bank.
O.J. will provide offense and serve as an excellent off-ball option for Holiday. Mayo is a versatile offensive player and could provide the Sixers with a dynamic wing scorer that they have been lacking.
Signing J.J. Hickson would finally provide the Sixers with a reliable post presence. Hickson would protect the paint and is a good rebounder. While he is not the most polished offensive player, he is very athletic and would pair well with Holiday in the pick-and-roll. He is a good finisher around the rim and he could play either power forward or center for the Sixers.
The Sixers, although they have been playing better basketball as of late, are still a lock for the lottery, and spending that pick wisely is their next step to success.
The 76ers will likely pick somewhere between 10-12, and should have the option of several promising players. Assuming that he is available, the Sixers should use the pick on Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum. MCCollum is a straight scourer and knows how to put the ball in the basket. Anyone who watched closely knows that the Sixers struggled to score at times this season, and McCollum could immediately help to alleviate the issue. While slightly undersized to play shooting guard, McCollum could play beside Holiday at times to provide offense, and serve as the team’s backup point guard/ bench scorer in his remaining minutes. It would be nice to have some scoring off the bench, and this would introduce McCollum to the NBA game without thrusting him into a starting spot.
If the franchise followed these moves to a T, which in all likelihood they won’t, next season the Sixers would have a formidable starting five and decent depth. The first name listed below is the projected starter, while the second name would be the backup.
PG: Jrue Holiday, C.J. McCollum
SG: O.J. Mayo, Jason Richardson
SF: Evan Turner, Damien Wilkins
PF: Thad Young, Levoy Allen
C: J.J. Hickson, Spencer Hawes
Throw in some additional minutes for Moultrie and the Sixers would have a pretty solid roster heading into the season. There is no reason to believe that such a squad, which could be feasibly formed in the offseason, couldn’t compete for home court advantage in a top-heavy Eastern Conference. Management illustrated that they aren’t afraid to make moves last summer, and they need to carry that same attitude into this offseason.