This year has been a tumultuous one for the NBA. There were talks of cancelling the season and the draft was up in the air, but last November the NBA gave fans something to look forward to: the draft. Players like Anthony Edwards, Lamelo Ball, and James Wiseman were seen as consensus top-three picks, but the rest of this year’s class was more uncertain. The Sixers, however, seemed to have made the steal of the draft, in addition to making some phenomenal moves in free agency and the trade market.
The Philadelphia 76ers had the 21st pick in the first round, followed by four second-round picks — giving the front office multiple chances to make the most of the night. As the Sixers were on the clock, there were already a few surprises. A few notable players, one being Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey, had yet to be picked, despite being a lottery projected player. Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA, walked onto the stage to announce that, with the 21st pick, the Sixers selected Maxey. Maxey, a 20-year-old guard, who was connected to the draft from home, seemed overwhelmed with joy and emotion.
“I just want to show them that I can compete. I trust myself to put the work in, and I’m so excited, I’m so thankful,” a teary-eyed Maxey said in a virtual interview with ESPN, “I thank Philadelphia for this opportunity. I promise you this won’t be a regret.”
In the second round of the draft, though, Sixers’ Manager of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey continued to prove to the league why he is so well-respected. After trading Al Horford’s horrendously expensive contract in exchange for sharpshooter Danny Green, Morey traded the Sixers’ 34th pick and Josh Richardson to the Dallas Mavericks for Seth Curry. Curry, though often in the shadow of his brother, Steph, is one of the greatest three-point shooters in NBA history, statistically speaking. In his career, Curry shot an insanely accurate 44% clip from behind the arc. Shooting is something that Philadelphia painfully lacked on the court, but the addition of two renowned sharpshooters in Green and Curry, for a relatively small asking price, was a fantastic move by the front office.
After the draft, Philadelphia picked up fresh-off-the-championship center Dwight Howard. Howard, though no longer in his prime, is a great addition to the team. He signed a one year, $2.56 million contract. Earlier in his career, Howard made it clear that he was adamantly against playing second-fiddle to anyone; if he was on a team, he would be the star. After Howard began his decline, though, he seemed to have developed a sense of maturity around his role on a basketball team. At this point, Howard is no longer a superstar, but he can certainly play quality backup minutes. With the loss of Al Horford and the release of Norvelle Pelle, the Sixers needed someone to supply those backup center minutes while Joel Embiid was on the bench. Howard averaged eight points, eight rebounds, and one block per game last year with the Los Angeles Lakers, and he hopes to serve as a mentor to Philly’s young guns.
“Thank you. I am very grateful for this opportunity. Let’s bring a chip to Philly,” Howard tweeted after his contract became official.
Daryl Morey has made his mark on this Sixers team within his first few weeks in office by ditching Al Horford’s large contract, signing multiple reliable three point shooters in Green and Curry, and picking up Dwight Howard to serve as a quality backup center. This team is filled with young, promising prospects including Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, and this year’s draft pick, Tyrese Maxey.
“We like our team. That team I just watched out there is pretty special,” commented head coach Doc Rivers in a Media Day press release.