Now with Ben Simmons signed long-term, the Philadelphia 76ers have most likely completed most of their offseason goals. The Sixers, led by general manager Elton Brand, clearly identified and addressed several issues which were prevalent during last season’s playoff run.
The lack of depth at the center position and the backup point guard role were among the biggest holes filled this offseason.
Last season’s team faced other issues besides the health concerns of Joel Embiid and Simmons’ struggles shooting jump shots. In the playoff series against the Raptors, the team struggled defensively once Embiid went to the bench to rest.
“I know what he [Al Horford] brings to the table, not only starting with Joel, but also being able to spell Joel at the five,” Elton Brand said during a press conference last week.
The Sixers weren’t satisfied with just adding Horford. They signed Kyle O’Quinn to a veteran minimum contract to continue to help at the five.
“Much needed depth at the center spot,” Brand said about O’Quinn’s signing.
Horford and O’Quinn should give Embiid the opportunity to not only rest during games, but to also take more regular season games off. Getting Embiid to the playoffs healthy should be high on the Sixers’ priority list this season. He hasn’t been 100 percent healthy after the 82-game season in the past two years.
Who’s backing up Ben?
Another area of concern entering the offseason was who would be the backup point guard behind Simmons. TJ McConnell held that responsibility during the regular season but didn’t see much action in the playoffs. Jimmy Butler became the backup to Simmons during that time.
McConnell, who accepted a two-year $7 million deal with the Indiana Pacers, wasn’t a good fit backing up Simmons due to both players being poor perimeter shooters. They needed to add a point guard with a different skill set, and Raul Neto fit the bill.
Neto signed a veteran minimum contract from the Utah Jazz and can space the floor (37.7 career three-point percentage). He lacks size at 6-foot-2 so he could be a weak link to target when the Sixers are on defense.
Another option is second year pro Shake Milton. He signed a four-year deal this offseason after being on a two-way contract last year. Milton struggled in Summer League as the point guard and may struggle to get on the court this offseason because of his inexperience.
At this moment, Neto is the front runner for the backup point guard minutes.
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