Philadelphia 76ers: A performance grade for the 2019-20 regular season

Philadelphia 76ers Al Horford, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers Al Horford, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Reviewing the Philadelphia 76ers’ 2019-20 regular season and assigning a performance grade for a team that entered the year with high expectations.

Depending on who you ask, you could say that the Philadelphia 76ers started the 2019-20 NBA season with lofty expectations.

While some were wary of the fit of free-agent addition Al Horford, most people penciled in Philly as a Conference Finals or even an NBA Finals team, but before the season entered a hiatus in March, the Sixers were a team being bitten hard by the injury bug and looking like a possible first-round playoff exit.

The Sixers held a record a 39-26, sixth in the Eastern Conference standings. A team that was expected to fight for homecourt advantage wasn’t even set to host a first-round playoff series.

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So what exactly was the problem with the underachieving Sixers? For starters, they play like a championship team at home in Philadelphia, but once the team steps out of the city it’s like the Monstars stole their basketball ability and they look no better than the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The home/road discrepancy was worst than any team in the league. They posted a 29-2 home record, beating opponents by an average of 10.4 points a game. On the road, however, that record drops to a concerning 10-24 where the offense never seems to get going, scoring 106.6 points per game on the road. That scoring mark is good for 25th in the league amongst road teams.

Tobias Harris, who was having the best season of his career in Los Angeles with the Clippers, was used to playing at the power forward spot where he could cause mismatch problems. Bringing in Horford moved Harris to small forward and created a big-time spacing issue. While Horford is capable of shooting the 3, he is better suited as a stretch five than a stretch four. Especially when your team already possesses arguably the best center in basketball and you have a point guard that won’t attempt a jump shot… at all. Maybe management should’ve put a little more thought into that decision.

To the management and Brett Brown’s credit, they tried a few things and may have come away with some hope if the season resumes. General Manager Elton Brand went out and bolstered the bench, which has been another disaster for Philadelphia this season (26th in bench points), with two floor-spacers in Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson from Golden State for three second-round picks.

Alec Burks struggled to find his shot in the 11 games he played for Philly but he still gave them a double-digit scorer off the bench which they needed desperately. When it comes to shooting struggles, the same can be said for Robinson who was shooting just 28.7 percent from deep after shooting it at a 40 percent clip with his time in Golden State.

Brown ultimately made the biggest move of the season for the team by putting Al Horford on the bench and having Tobias go back to a position he might be more comfortable in at power forward. Like I mentioned earlier, the team was bitten by the injury bug this season but they were able to go 5-2 when Embiid and Simmons started together without Horford.

But in light of the injuries, they were able to strike some gold in one Shake Milton. Milton was able to start games in place of Simmons and as started scored 14.1 points per game on 53.9/50.0/74.3 shooting splits, creating some discussion of whether he should continue to be a starter alongside Simmons when he’s healthy.

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Philadelphia would’ve been one of the most interesting teams heading into the postseason. There’s no telling where this team could finish once, and if, the NBA season resumes, but based on their performance prior to the suspension the 76ers get a C+ due to falling woefully short on regular-season expectations.

Grade: C+