Al Horford: Sixth man

The Philadelphia 76ers entered the 2019-2020 nba season as one of the frontrunners to come out of the East this season. Although they lost their 4th quarter closer in Jimmy Butler, and their best jump shooter in JJ redick, they seemingly had made up that value in former allstar al horford and last seasons leader for the Miami heat, Josh Richardson. The idea was though that while josh can’t shoot like JJ, and Al can’t score quite like Jimmy, they brought a new and different skill set to make up for it, specifically ones that the sixers lacked last season that would end up costing them a chance at a title. Richardson was/is a clearly superior defender to JJ, and is one of the better gaurd defenders in the league. and Al filled a need that jimmy, or anyone else on the 2018-2019 team couldn’t, a backup center that could (potentially) also play alongside joel Embiid, who also happened to be Joel’s worst matchup in the league in the 2018-2019 season. So now the sixers have the physicality and defensive versatility to defend any team in the league while, on paper, not having really anyone who is a negative offensively. Sadly, the optimism that was unlike any optimism sixers fans have had since the iverson era, was not met with the results everyone had hoped for. As it turns out, having 4 players in your starting lineup that heavily rely on posting up, getting inside and being surrounded by floor spacers leads to some unsatisfying results offensively. It also turns out that constantly going stagnant on offense leads to a drop in team morale and motivation on both sides of the ball. Who would’ve thought? Clearly not general manager elton brand. So, sitting at an underwhelming 33-21, and an even more underwhelming 6th seed in the eastern conference, something had to change. Somebody had to come out of this starting lineup. Josh Richardson was the only true gaurd, which the sixers were lacking, Ben simmons and Joel Embiid are the franchise players, and Tobias Harris is the only one of the forwards who even moderately resembles a floor spacer, so that leaves al horford. The same al horford making roughly $33million a year for the next 4 years. The same al horford who hasn’t come off the bench since he was a rookie. But the fact of the matter is Al horford was putting up career lows, and the net rating of him simmons and Embiid was hardly league average. It was a move that had to be made, and frankly, it wasn’t made soon enough. The Second they replaced him in the starting lineup, it immediately lead to arguably one of their most impressive wins of the year against the clippers, and the floor opened up for everybody, there was a new and improved energy level from the whole team, even Al improved in his new role. And now the sixers, rightfully, seem pretty committed to sticking with this experiment, but one question still remains, who starts over Al horford? Do you give up some defense with the teams most accurate shooter in furkan korkmaz, and leave the bench unit with less fire power on the perimiter? Do you start Glenn Robinson/Alec burks, who both are new to the team and have no chemistry with anyone? Do you stick with the defensive first mindset and bring rookie defensive standout Matisse Thybulle in to the starting role, even though he doesn’t bring much to the table from the scoring department?  I guess it’s good to have a lot of options, as opposed to their roster options last year, but the clock is ticking and the sixers have to figure it out come playoff time. Only time will tell how this rollercoaster of a season will end.



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