The Sixers were a few bounces of the ball away from challenging the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Championship last season. The stinging loss to the Toronto Raptors, a once crippling thought, now serves a launching point for the team’s resurgence. The 76ers shuffled the roster in the offseason. The team’s closer and 2nd-leading scorer Jimmy Butler (18.2 ppg), took his talents to South Beach. Fellow 18 pts per game scorer and 3-point shooter J.J. Reddick is now with Zion Williamson in Lakers South, New Orleans. The Sixers replaced two key starters from last year’s playoff run with five-time NBA All-Star Al Horford and athletic dynamo Josh Richardson. There are key concerns when it comes to depth, player rotations, and shooting. However, the added length and intensity will assist in creating Brett Brown’s “bully-ball defense”. Several players sat down with the media today to discuss the team’s new identity, expectations for the season, and what they worked on in the offseason.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) September 30, 2019
Key Embiid Quote
[The goal is] winning a championship, obviously. Championship and more. We have that opportunity. Going into this year, one of the things we have to focus on is winning that no. 1 seed… My whole mindset is focused on winning. I’ve got to win at least 60 games and I know it’s going to put me in a better situation when it comes to other things, so that’s what I’m focused on. We’ve got a championship-caliber team, we have a chance to win it, so it’s all about building that team chemistry and making sure everybody stays on the same page.”
The Sixers big man said he expects to play more than 64 games.
Key Simmons Quotes
“I think I was too worried about what people were saying.”
“I’m happy to be here another five years — I don’t really want to be anywhere else. I think we have a really special opportunity to do something major here…. We’re starting fresh. It’s kind of like a fresh slate where we can start from scratch, find our identity, and really build something special with these guys.”
“If It’s open, I’ll take it.”
Sixers fans can only hope that Simmons’ shooting focus in the summer translates to game success.
Key Harris Quote
“What I try to bring to the table is an even-keeled balance. Especially this year, someone who’s looked to as a leader on the team. I’m a scorer, I’ve been scoring my whole career. I space the floor, I shoot the ball, you can put me in different slots in different positions.”
Several times last season it appeared that Harris became a spectator in key matchups late in the season. Harris’ yearning to cut loose and go back to his scoring ways should help assuage doubts about where points will come from in the 2019-2020 season.
Key Horford Quote
“This is my 13th year in the league…being able to play next to a guy like Joel is really a dream come true for me.”
The fundamentally-sound and tough big man envisions what a matchup nightmare Embiid and he will be.
Key Richardson Quote
“One thing you’ll get out of me every night is intensity. I always play every play like it’s my last. I always try to do whatever I can to help the team win. I’m kind of a guy that can morph into any role that I need to on any nightly basis to give us the best chance to win.”
Richardson is the most intriguing addition to the 76ers this season. Fan know what to expect from a savvy vet like Horford. Richardson is an immediate upgrade when it comes to athleticism at the SG position.
Tobias Harris on the Kawhi Leonard’s Shot
“It lingered for a long time. Probably up until we get ready to go tomorrow…You can feel that sense of urgency and hunger within the group.”
Harris pointed out that the Raptors loss was a huge motivating factor in the offseason.
“I haven’t cut out anything, I’ve just been extremely focused on what I have to do…”I knew I had to be in better shape…You can’t control when you’re going to get sick or not get sick, but all I can do is try to do the right things and eat the right things.”– Joel Embiid
“Ben Simmons is an absolute gym rat.”– Tobias Harris
“We’ve been working. On everything. From ball handling, to touch around the rim, floaters, jumpers, threes. Whatever it is. It’s getting a consistent rhythm, and I feel comfortable.”– Ben Simmons
On the Team’s Defensive Identity
“I want to be the best defensive player on the team. And I hope everyone I’m playing with hears that” – Ben Simmons
We all know that we have the ability to cover individually, but the way that we’re going to be special is covering for one another. As long as everybody’s on the same page on the defensive end, we’re going to be trouble. The good thing about our group is that we’re versatile. Guys can play multiple positions. That’s a strength… Our strength is going to be being able to adapt and do multiple things as a defensive unit.”– Al Horford
I worked really hard this summer on my defense, to improve that, to make that a focal point of my game as a whole, and you’ll see that this year.”-Tobias Harris
Workout videos and press conferences don’t mean much if the team can’t produce this season. The talent is there and, according to the players, so is the determination. In order to push beyond a consecutive second-round exit, these players will have to learn how to cultivate a team-like atmosphere. It begins with coaching putting the players in the best position to succeed and the players pushing each other to greatness.