From new player additions to offseason upgrades, there was an ambitious conversation surrounding the Sixers’ season outlook at media day on Monday.
Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and coach Doc Rivers kicked off the dialogue, noting the additions brought a level of depth to the roster the team hadn’t had in the past. .
After losing to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, Joel Embiid said his team wasn’t good enough to beat a top-seeded team, admitting they had to become physically more resilient.
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So Morey and the Sixers front office looked to bring that to their roster this offseason by adding PJ Tucker, Danuel House Jr., De’Anthony Melton and Montrezl Harrell.
Rivers also believes the offseason development and recovery time has given these key returning players the momentum needed to develop the championship team’s appearance.
Here’s a look at four quotes that captured the Sixers media day talks.
Rivers said he liked the group culture that developed over the summer. He also believes that with Harden and Embiid back to full health, their rooster will give them a chance to maintain that status using the depth of their bench.
” I am excited to begin. I love our group,” Rivers said. “I thought we had met some needs. We can’t wait to get started. We are deep, just like our team.
However, he knows that a talented team with several new players still needs to find rhythm and connection. He will look to establish that during training camp.
“He’s the best talent I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Rivers said. “We have to become a team.”
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Embiid stressed that he was not a front office team builder, but he knew the team struggled on defense, especially in the playoffs.
He mentioned that if Harden hadn’t taken a $15 million pay cut during NBA free agency, giving up his $47.36 million player option for the 2022-23 season, the Sixers might not have had the budget to add Tucker and others to their roster.
“If you don’t want to mention Jimmy, PJ was one of the biggest X-factors that had a big impact for them against us,” Embiid said. “Obviously Daryl did his job, and thanks to James for what he did, without that it wouldn’t be possible.
“We know we have a chance to win, we’re going to be on the same page and it’s going to be fun.”
Harden said his goal is to win as many championships as possible in Philadelphia. But he acknowledged that his hamstring injury still wasn’t right last season, and it’s led him to some dark places.
“Mentally it was very, very difficult for me,” Harden said, referring to the last two seasons with injuries. “A lot of dark times, which I never really went through.”
This will mark Harden’s first full offseason since before the pandemic, allowing him to heal and develop proper conditioning in preparation for the season’s grind.
It was obvious that he lacked his explosiveness that made him a dynamic scorer. Meanwhile, his three-point percentage (33%) was the worst of his career and his field goal percentage (41%) was its lowest since his rookie season.
Harden noted this summer that he’s had time to work through those tough times and have conversations with his teammates about the group’s expectations.
“Just having conversations with Jo and Doc, making sure we’re all on the same page,” Harden said. “Then I train with Tyrese, I feel more comfortable with me learning him and vice versa, he teaches me and what I am.”
Thybulle’s goal this offseason was to improve his outside shooting.
He spent the summer training with Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and famed shooting coach Phil Beckner in Phoenix, among other cities.
It also marked the first season in which he was able to “work fully on Matisse”. After his rookie season, COVID precautions kept him away from the gym. Last summer he was with the Australian national team trying to win an Olympic medal.
“It was my first chance to have worn a full offseason, a real offseason traditionally.” said Thybullus. “Then dedicated to improving myself only.
“At this point it’s like I’ve done the work, it’s just a matter of knowing where the cards fall, seeing how everything unfolds. I’ve made progress, I’ve worked. Making sure you see growth over last year is all that really matters.
When asked what his goal was for shooting percentage after all the work in the offseason, Thybulle replied, “I want to make 100% of my shooting.”