Skip to main content
Menu
NBA Free Agency Diary: Did The Sixers Lose Jimmy Butler And … Get Better?

Keep track of the chaotic NBA offseason with our Free Agency Diary.


The Philadelphia 76ers went into the NBA’s free-agency blitz with an eye on keeping together as much as possible of last season’s 51-win outfit (which took the eventual champion Raptors to seven games in the playoffs), including potentially re-signing free agents Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick, plus working out an extension for Ben Simmons.

That didn’t quite all come together for GM Elton Brand on Sunday — but maybe his team came out ahead on the other side. Redick is gone; Butler was traded. But Harris and Simmons signed new deals, Al Horford was added, and the Butler deal brought an intriguing package of talent headlined by ex-Heat guard Josh Richardson. The resulting team looks … actually really good?

The Sixers are still very good — if not better!

Projected opening-night depth chart for the 2019-20 Philadelphia 76ers, based on CARMELO plus/minus ratings

EXPECTED MINUTES PER GAME PLAYER RATING
PLAYER PG SG SF PF C TOTAL OFF. +/- DEF. +/- TOT. +/-
Ben Simmons 33 4 0 0 0 37 +2.2 +1.7 +3.9
Josh Richardson 13 20 2 0 0 35 +0.6 +0.3 +0.9
Joel Embiid 0 0 0 0 34 34 +1.9 +4.1 +6.0
Tobias Harris 0 0 16 15 2 33 +1.0 -0.4 +0.6
Al Horford 0 0 0 16 12 28 +0.7 +2.5 +3.2
Jonathon Simmons 0 15 4 0 0 19 -2.2 -1.4 -3.5
Matisse Thybulle 0 3 14 0 0 17 -1.7 +1.0 -0.7
Mike Scott 0 0 10 6 0 16 -1.6 -1.0 -2.6
Jonah Bolden 0 0 0 11 0 11 -1.3 +1.0 -0.3
Marial Shayok 0 4 2 0 0 6 -1.8 -1.2 -3.0
Zhaire Smith 0 2 0 0 0 2 -0.9 -1.0 -1.9
Replacement-level PG 2 0 0 0 0 2 -0.7 -1.0 -1.7
Team total 240 +2.0 +5.1 +7.1
Expected wins 58.8
CARMELO team rating 1686

According to our CARMELO player projections (as run through our depth-chart algorithm), this configuration of the Sixers is actually roughly as good the version Philly was running out late in the regular season. It projects for a very good offensive efficiency (+2.0 points better than average) and an elite defense (+5.1) thanks largely to the addition of Horford.

Add it up, and the Sixers’ resulting CARMELO rating (1686) is one of the best in the league, roughly equivalent to that of a 59-win team. With the Warriors diminished and some of the buzzier Eastern Conference teams of the summer still having big question marks (the Nets, for instance, might not live up to the hype in the short term with Kevin Durant injured all season), Philadelphia may have managed to successfully navigate a treacherous offseason and set itself up for a legitimate chance in what should be a wide-open NBA title hunt next year.

Neil Paine is a senior sportswriter for FiveThirtyEight.

Comments