With the 76ers’ 2018-19 season finally over, it’s time to look at their roster and evaluate how each player fared and what can be expected from each this offseason and beyond.
The roster is packed with players who will be free agents this offseason, including three members of the Sixers’ star-studded starting unit. What the team and each player decide to do will have a major impact on the rest of the roster because of the cap space the Sixers could use up in offering multiple max deals.
Let’s look at each player individually, keeping in mind that one decision could change things.
In his third year, Embiid cemented himself as one of the top players in the league. His defensive presence is the anchor that holds everything together for the Sixers, and though his offense faltered in the postseason, it’s clear that he is the most important player on the court for this team.
As he uses the summer to get in shape and recover from the recent playoff run, one thing remains clear: Embiid’s health and time must be better managed next season. The Sixers need to work with Embiid with one goal in mind, and that is delivering him to the playoffs healthy, even if it means limiting him during the regular season.
After his rookie-of-the-year season, Simmons became an All-Star and continued to refine his defensive skills. He developed more of a post game, increased his two-point field-goal and free-throw percentages, and became a more vocal leader for the Sixers.
The same limitations that held Simmons back last season are the ones that he must improve on now: shooting and finishing.
The regular season was up and down, with Butler showing flashes of his best, but it was the Sixers’ postseason run that proved Butler is worth a max contract. He gives the Sixers a second reliable ballhandler who is dominant in pick-and-roll and isolation sets.
He can play on and off the ball, creates his own shots, and is a dogged defender when he wants to be. His fourth-quarter heroics and athletic gifts, especially in the playoffs, are something that have the Sixers ready to pay him everything they can. The ball is in Butler’s court.
After playing like an All-Star for the Clippers through the first part of the season, Harris arrived in Philadelphia as the final piece of a fearsome starting five, but his production declined with the Sixers.
Though his three-point shooting percentage dropped from 43.4 in L.A. to 32.6 in Philly, there is nothing that suggests he can’t regain his form. Part of the production problems is that he went from being a top option to sometimes a third or fourth option with the Sixers. That’s what happens when you sprinkle stars through a roster; not everyone will eat the way he would if he were the top dog elsewhere.
Harris’ defense was a pleasant surprise. While not elite, he was sturdy and more reliable than most expected. The Sixers want to keep him, but as with Butler, it’s going to be up to the player.
It seems a lifetime ago that Markelle Fultz was inserted into the starting lineup, supplanting Redick, but it was indeed this season. Despite the roller coaster of a season, Redick remained a constant for the Sixers.
His chemistry with Embiid and his three-point shooting are what the Sixers prize the most. Additionally, defenses must pay attention to him, and he often wears out defenders with his constant movement. One of the better-conditioned players in the league, Redick has not slowed much despite his 12 years in the league, and he showed more defensive skills this season than he ever had.
The Sixers will definitely want to keep Redick, but depending on what happens with Butler and Harris, it could mean a much smaller contract than this year’s $12.25 million.
It’s possible that no player has ever endeared himself to the Philadelphia fans in such a short amount of time as Mike Scott did. A part of the Harris trade with the Clippers in February, Scott immediately staked his claim as the hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners, switchable role player that the Sixers had desperately needed. Add to that the fact that Scott can hit threes and even game-winners in the playoffs, and that’s a pretty good recipe for the first guy off the bench.
Scott made it very clear in his exit interview that he wants to stay in Philadelphia. If the Sixers can keep Scott, they should.
When the Sixers were desperate for some help off the bench and for someone to claim a spot in the rotation, Ennis came up in a big way.
Not much was expected when the Sixers acquired Ennis in a minor trade with the Rockets, but he became an important part of the Sixers’ playoff rotation, often doing the little things to help find victories. He is a good defender, can knock down a three, flies through the air to pick off rebounds, and is quick in transition.
Ennis’ career has been anything but stable and if the Sixers can offer him a small deal to stick around, a little stability could make Ennis even better. Finding reliable role players is often harder than it’s made out to be.
Also a part of the Harris trade, Boban Marjanovic is a fan favorite because of his personality and daunting 7-foot-3 frame. While his size is imposing and he is capable in some matchups, he is one of many centers the Sixers have on their payroll who are not serviceable when better, quicker teams come calling in the playoffs.
It was good while it lasted, but it is unlikely the Sixers will keep Marjanovic around.
There is no doubt that Philadelphia loves McConnell as if he were a native son, and the same goes for every one of his coaches and teammates. But as the Sixers continue to move ahead in their pursuit of a championship, McConnell’s services are needed less and less.
When Butler started to take over point-guard duties during portions of games, McConnell’s role slowly disappeared and it was clear that the rest of the team was just one step ahead of where he is. He might have played his final game in a Sixers uniform.
It’s been a crazy rookie year for Smith. He broke a foot last summer, and then an allergic reaction to sesame hospitalized him and put his life and career in serious peril.
Smith lost 40 pounds after being on the brink of death and then came back to see the court, so we know he’s a fighter. We also know that last year’s No. 16 overall draft pick is a defensive-minded gym rat who is continually working to improve his already serviceable perimeter game. Expect to see a lot more of Smith next season.
There were very high highs and very low lows with Bolden in his rookie campaign. The foundation is there for Bolden to be a solid player, and because he has an incredibly team-friendly contract, the Sixers are going to continue to develop the young forward/center.
Bolden will need to prioritize control, shooting, and strength in his offseason work.
Though Johnson is 32, his game seems older and of another era. While he was Embiid’s backup through the 2017-18 season, he fell out of the rotation quickly this year.
Finding a reliable backup center who can stay on the court against the more modern teams is one of the Sixers’ top priorities for the summer, and Johnson will be a casualty of that search. Don’t expect the Sixers to re-sign him for a third year.
Like Johnson, Monroe seems like a blast from the past, and Monroe is only 28 after nine NBA seasons. He absolutely made the most of his unlikely short stint with the Sixers, but the team is looking for a more viable center with fewer miles.
The Sixers, in the deal that sent Fultz to the Magic, brought in Simmons, who then lost out to Ennis in the “quiet tournament” for a spot in the rotation. Simmons can hit a three and has some foundational defensive abilities, but his play was just too inconsistent to rely on.
For as much as Korkmaz wanted to prove himself, it’s unfortunate that he has been plagued by injuries. After the Sixers declined his option, Korkmaz wanted a trade, a chance to prove himself elsewhere, but he never got that chance either. It’s likely he’ll get that chance with a different team next season.
On a two-way contract, the rookie showed a lot more promise than many expected. He still has a long way to go, needing to gain strength and find his footing on both sides of the ball, but the basics are there.
If the Sixers can sign Milton to another two-way deal and develop him the same way they did this year, using him when injuries warrant it, it would be a win.