Today, I am continuing my series of articles for hypothetical offseasons for NBA teams. Now, as just stated, these are all hypothetical, so whether any of this is even possible this offseason is up in the air for now. In these articles I cover:
Playoff Results: The NBA season isn’t over, so a lot could still happen in the playoffs. Let’s say, for instance, the Celtics win the championship, a lot could change in terms of their offseason. They may be more hesitant to deal Al Horford or try to land a big name like Bradley Beal. Say the Jazz lose in the first round and decide to break the team up. Maybe LeBron decides he wants to go play in New York or something. What I’m trying to say is that the playoffs can affect the offseason in countless ways, and I have to know what the results of it are to make this a realistic hypothetical. To do this, I will use FiveThirtyEight’s 2021-2022 NBA Predictions and a random number generator to simulate the playoffs; this will help to make these effective hypotheticals.
Trades: I will use ESPN’s Trade Machine to make sure salary cap rules are followed and will be unbiased in terms of making sure they are win-win trades. Basically, I won’t trade Russell Westbrook for a thousand picks just to look good; I will make sure both teams would accept the deal.
Free Agency: This was a toughie, as it’s very hard to accurately predict how interested players will be in a given team. I decided to use a mix of common sense and luck in this and decided that if my team has the cap, I can make an offer to a player. However, another team can offer a higher contract (by use of a random number generator) and I will have to outbid that. It’s not a great method, but it’s the best I can do. For reference, I used Spotrac’s 2022 Free Agents Tracker for a list of the players.
Draft: One of the biggest parts of this hypothetical offseason for half of the teams in the league, this was fairly easy to simulate. I used Tankathon’s NBA Draft Lottery Simulator and Fanspo’s NBA Mock Draft Simulator, which of course will be AI selections for the other teams, and I will pick for the one given team.
So, after all of those rules, it’s finally time for me to start the hypothetical offseason. The team I will be managing in today’s hypothetical is the Philadelphia 76ers. Let’s get into it.
2022 Season Results
51-31 Record, 4th seed in the playoffs
Playoffs: Beat 5th seed Raptors in the first round, beat 1st seed Heat in the second round, lost to 2nd seed Celtics in the Conference Finals
Thoughts: This was a big run for the Sixers. They knocked off both the Raptors and the Heat before falling short against the Celtics in the ECF. Still, it’s not enough. Harden isn’t getting any younger and Embiid is going to start getting agitated waiting for that championship. I’m going to look to make some big moves in the offseason to help this team win.
No need to simulate the lottery, the Sixers aren’t anywhere close to it. In fact, they don’t even have a single pick in this draft. We’re moving on.
Signed: James Harden – 4 years/165.2 M, Matisse Thybulle – Team Option, Tyrese Maxey – Team Option, Shake Milton – Team Option, Carmelo Anthony – 1 year/8.8 M
Lost: Paul Millsap, DeAndre Jordan
Thoughts: James Harden refuses his player option, wanting a better long-term deal. I decided to go through with this, despite it being a massive overpay, because it’s James Harden and letting him go is not the right move. Carmelo Anthony was a great addition for this team as his bench scoring will be invaluable. Millsap and Jordan leaving are fine; those two are in their twilight anyway. Otherwise, this wasn’t that crazy of a free agency.
76ers receive: Cedi Osman, Dylan Windler
Cavaliers receive: Danny Green, Isaiah Joe, 2023 Second Round (via PHI)
76ers receive: Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, Kemba Walker
Knicks receive: Tobias Harris, Paul Reed, Dylan Windler, 2023 First Round (via PHI), 2023 Second Round (via ATL, CHA, or BKN), 2024 Second Round (via PHI)
Thoughts: Getting Julius Randle is the biggest prize of this offseason. Randle, if he plays even close to as well as he did a year ago, would turn the Sixers into an instant title contender. Add in the fact that they are getting rid of Danny Green’s 10-million-dollar contract and replacing it with Cedi Osman is a big bonus. Osman gives this team some great shooting off the bench, while Taj Gibson and Kemba Walker also help out that bench unit. Tobias Harris was a necessary loss to acquire Randle, and Dylan Windler was only added to get the Knicks to accept that deal. All in all, this could be a great Philadelphia 76ers squad.
PG Tyrese Maxey
SG James Harden
SF Matisse Thybulle
PF Julius Randle
C Joel Embiid
PG Kemba Walker
SG Cedi Osman
SF Carmelo Anthony
PF Georges Niang
C Taj Gibson
Thoughts: I like this team a lot, they have a very nice balance of shooting, playmaking, defense, and rebounding. The starting lineup is what will win them games, as the bench lacks consistency. If Anthony or Walker become consistent shot-makers off the bench, then they’ll be dangerous. Alas, I don’t know if that will happen. Someone will have to step up or else those starters will have to do it all. I see this team as a definite title contender if one of these scenarios occur. Otherwise, it’s another Eastern Conference Finals appearance.