Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are clearly the future of the 76ers. Embiid proved to be one of the most dominant players in the league this season, exceeding expectations in minutes, games played and overall performance. Simmons, in his rookie season, made history most nights and did so without a jump shot. Both players will look to improve this offseason, but they are the cornerstones of this Sixers team and they aren’t going anywhere.
Surrounding the young stars this season was a group of Process holdovers, newly acquired veterans, and young talent that is still developing. Not everyone on the roster had dazzling seasons as Embiid and Simmons did. But every player had a role, and this season signified that the Sixers are once again contenders.
JJ Redick, the veteran the Sixers lured to Philadelphia last offseason, was inserted into the starting lineup and gave Philly its first legitimate shooting guard in years. Dario Saric, a name known only to Sixers fans for the past few years, broke out to become consistent and a player opposing coaches fear. Robert Covington, the one-time G-Leaguer, was one of best perimeter defenders in the league despite a streaky season.
Of course, the Sixers’ 2017-18 season will also be remembered by Markelle Fultz’s disappointing rookie campaign that was shrouded in mystery that left many with more questions than answers.
Setting aside Embiid and Simmons, who will both be in Sixers jerseys for a long time, let’s take a look at how the rest of the roster performed and what we can expect it to look like next season.
Season review: Signed to a one-year, $23 million contract, Redick did exactly what the Sixers expected of him. He spaced the floor, sneaked around screens and knocked down shots. There are definitely some shots he’d like to have back, especially in the playoffs, but for most of the season he was excellent as the team’s second-leading scorer. He finished the season averaging a career-high 17.1 points and shooting 42 percent from deep.
Next season: Though he won’t be making $23 million, Redick won’t come cheap. In his exit interview, Redick said that this was the favorite season of his career, and he’s looking to make a long-term deal happen. That happening with the Sixers will depend completely on if the Sixers are able to land a big fish in the offseason. If the Sixers sign a big-ticket free agent, then Redick’s returning will be possible only if he signs a minimum-type contract. If the Sixers swing and miss on superstar free agents, they could offer Redick another lucrative one-year deal.
Season review: This was a roller coaster of a year for Covington. He is still one of the Sixers’ best defenders, and at one point, he was shooting three-pointers at a 50 percent clip. But after a hot start to the season and a contract extension, his shot became streaky. He managed to remain a reliable defender, but in his first postseason run he lost a lot of the traits that had made him deadly.
Next season: The Sixers’ main objective in the offseason will be to find an all-star talent who can shoot the ball and will take some pressure off Covington. He’ll be back unless he is packaged in a trade for someone such as Kawhi Leonard.
Season review: The Homie followed up a season in which he was a rookie-of-the-year runner-up with improvement in nearly every category. You can’t really ask for more than that. He plays with a toughness and resolve that are sometimes hard to find in younger players, and proved he is worthy of a starting role. In addition to finding his way through this season, he also performed well when tasked with playing center in small-ball lineups, which speaks to his versatility and ability to adapt.
Next season: Depending on what pieces the Sixers add in the offseason, Saric might be heading into a second straight year with this question looming: Where does he fit on this roster? With a guy such as Saric, there’s little doubt he’ll find his way. On the other hand, he is easily the most attractive trade chip the Sixers have. They won’t want to let go of him, but if the right offer comes along, it could be necessary.
Season review: The saga of the No. 1 overall pick’s rookie year was clouded by injury, mystery and a jump shot that completely disappeared. It was a disappointing year by all measures. Conventional wisdom says things can only go up from here.
Next season: It is absolutely necessary for Fultz to show improvement in his sophomore season. Without a jumper, it will be difficult for him to fit into the offensive mix when the Sixers already have Simmons, a starting point guard who refuses to shoot from deep. Fultz will be here next season, but anything after that will depend on performance.
Season review: Johnson received a lot of unfair criticism this season after signing a one-year, $11 million deal. When he plays backup to Embiid, it’s easy to see the disparity in scoring and flashy plays. But Johnson was a solid reserve center who set hard screens and defended at a high level. Late in the season, Johnson stepped in and held down the frontcourt during the Sixers’ win streak while Embiid was sidelined.
Next season: The Sixers will not have the cap space to keep Johnson if they try to land a player such as LeBron James. With Jonah Bolden likely joining the team from Israel and the option of keeping Richaun Holmes on the cheap, the Sixers have enough guys who can play down low.
Season review: He almost single-handedly kept the Sixers from being swept in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He is all of the NBA cliches in one player — a poised and classy guy who plays with grit, heart and toughness. All those things endear him not only to the Sixers’ faithful, but to the coaching staff and front office, as well. He is exactly the kind of player you want on your bench because he’ll always provide a spark when needed.
Next season: The Sixers will be picking up McConnell’s $1.6 million team option and keeping him around. If he hadn’t already earned his place on the team for the 2018-19 campaign before the series against Boston, his performances in Games 4 and 5 sealed the deal.
Season review: The Sixers’ bench was weak at best before the season started and it was clear they would need help if they were going to make a postseason run. Belinelli, who was desperate to play with young talent, slipped right in. Like Redick, he did exactly what he was supposed to do: He made shots. His defensive limitations were exploited in the postseason, but the Sixers never expected Belinelli to be a defensive specialist.
Next season: The Sixers were able to sign Belinelli for ridiculously cheap — $776,000 — after his contract was bought out by the Atlanta Hawks. Shooters are a hot commodity in the NBA, and the Sixers likely aren’t going to use the cap space to retain Belinelli if they can get a bigger star.
Season review: Ilyasova was better in his second stint in a 76ers jersey than in his first. In addition to being another player who could knock down long-range shots, Ilyasova was an athletic addition to the bench who played with physicality, fought for rebounds, and took charges like nobody else in the league can. He was a welcome midseason boost to the Sixers’ bench.
Next Season: Like Belinelli, the ex-Hawk is not going to be retained at his current rate ($502,000 after the buyout), and will easily garner interest from other teams. Unlike Belinelli, he is not as much of a liability on the defensive end. Because he has a longer relationship with the Sixers, they might be able to keep him on a small one-year deal.
Season review: Inconsistency landed Bayless a near-permanent seat on the bench this season, and it became clear he wasn’t the kind of guard the Sixers needed to complement their stars.
Next season: The Sixers are going to look to either use Bayless’ expiring $8.5 million contract in a trade, or release him by stretching his remaining salary over three years. He isn’t in any future Sixers plans.
Season review: His playing time was largely limited because he was the third option, behind Embiid and Johnson. There are still some questions about Holmes’ defensive capabilities. He knows he has to improve and said as much in his exit interview.
Next season: The Sixers could retain Holmes with a $1.6 million team option, which is a cheap way to hold onto a reserve center who is young and bound to improve. Or they could let him walk and use the cap space in their attempt to land a superstar.
Season review: Injury and lack of development slowed Anderson’s season. Had he been available for more time in the regular season, he might have seen more action in the playoffs. The upside is that Anderson is a defense-first player who continues to work on his outside shooting and showed flashes of what he could become.
Next season: He’s under contract for the 2018-19 season so unless he’s rolled into a trade, he’ll likely be around and be expected to improve.
Season review: TLC was another player who had an injury-plagued season that halted his development. Most of his season was spent shooting in practice next to Redick, which was the best possible place for him to be if he wasn’t seeing the court.
Next season: He’ll most likely still be on the roster. He turned 23 this month and is still in the developmental stages of his career.
Season review: Multiple assignments with the Sixers’ G-League affiliate gave Korkmaz some action early in the season, but he also fell victim to injury.
Next season: The Sixers expect Korkmaz to play in the summer league. He’s young with a ton of upside as a lengthy shooter. He will likely have the same role next season that he had this year — but without the injury setbacks, the team hopes.