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Sports Authority

DelVecchio: Sixers may be trusting the process a little longer

| Thursday, February 7, 2019

After his game-winning floater lifted the Los Angeles Clippers to a 117-115 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night, blossoming small forward Tobias Harris was greeted with the news that he’d be packing his bags and heading to Philadelphia.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Philadelphia 76ers completed a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Clippers that has undoubtedly made Philly a legit NBA title contender.

The full deal includes Philadelphia also receiving center Boban Marjanovic and forward Mike Scott, in exchange for veteran Wilson Chandler, sensational rookie guard Landry Shamet, center Mike Muscala, two first-round picks and two second rounders as well. For LA, the Clippers have now given themselves the ability to pursue a big free agent signing this upcoming offseason; one that features superstars like Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and more.

For the 76ers, the addition has immediately turned their new starting five of Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid into the league’s second best, behind only the Golden State Warriors.

76ers’ fans have been trusting “the process” for quite a while now, and it seems that all of their suffering may be coming to an end, as it is clear general manager Elton Brand and the rest of Philadelphia’s staff is in a win-now mode.

Tobias Harris is in the midst of his best season since joining the league in 2011. Harris is averaging a career-high of 20.9 points per game this season, while shooting close to 50 percent from the field and hitting 43.4 percent of his 3-pointers. The former-Tennessee forward is also grabbing 7.9 rebounds per contest.

The Sixers, who currently sit at 34-20 and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, are hoping that this addition will finally get them out of the mud. After a disappointing exit via sweep in the second round of the playoffs last season to the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia is intent on making it all the way, and now.

Overnight, the Sixers odds to win the eastern conference title doubled, and now sits at 10-1. Is there good reason for this?

It’s clear that this trade does in fact make the 76ers a legit contender to reach the NBA Finals this season. However, it does not make them the favorites to win the Eastern Conference.

Here’s why:

While Tobias Harris is a great shooter who is going to add versatility on both sides of the floor thanks to his 6-foot-9 frame, the Sixers greatest weakness still remains their lack of depth. Markelle Fultz still is nowhere near close to returning, which leaves the Sixers assortment of guards being Zhaire Smith, Furkan Korkmaz, T.J. McConnell and Corey Brewer. Not ideal.

Furthermore, there is no familiarity between these new additions and the current team. It seemed as though Philadelphia had all of the pieces they needed to get to the title game when they signed Jimmy Butler, but the consistency and cohesion just wasn’t there. Now, a slew of new players are being added on top of this issue with Butler’s role, and the potential lack of chemistry could prove to be the team’s downfall.

It would be silly to deny Philadelphia’s star power, and the potential success that their new and improved starting five will have in getting the team to the playoffs. Simmons has just been selected to his first All-Star game just a year after winning Rookie of the Year, and Embiid has solidified himself as an All-NBA big man. With Harris, the Sixers starting five now has a combined points per game average of 20.5, which is impressive to say the least. Yet, potential doesn’t always translate to tangible success, as we’ve seen by the 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets, the 2007-2008 Houston Rockets and a number of other “super teams” that never panned out.

The beauty about sports is the team dynamic, and while other teams in the Eastern Conference and around the NBA may not have as good of a roster as the Sixers, there’s only one basketball going around. It will be interesting to see whether or not this star-studded starting five will be able to share the ball in an effective and efficient way.

Philadelphia has officially gone all-in, but moving forward new issues are going to arise, especially given the fact that Harris is going to need a new contract if Brett Brown and co. want to keep him long term, and this all is clouding the fact that Jimmy Butler is a free agent this coming offseason and has already come out and stated that he wants a max deal.

The Milwaukee Bucks currently hold the No. 1 spot in the East, and have a team that, although reliant on young superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, has a good group of core players who have already settled into their roles. The same can be said of Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors and Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics.

While this trade has catapulted the Sixers into the conversation for best teams in the NBA, they won’t have home court advantage in the playoffs unless the Raptors and Bucks miraculously fall off, and, in my mind, they will not be able to develop a strong enough chemistry to follow through with their championship hopes.

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