Another year, another disappointing year for the Philadelphia 76ers and their process. With zero conference finals appearances in the Joel Embiid era, it might be time to pull the plug on the renowned process.
Between the coach and the roster, there were a number of problems that the Sixers have faced throughout the postseason. With an MVP that has yet to make a conference finals appearance, Philly might be in for another long rebuild if the same patterns continue.
The Harden Problem
James Harden became a byproduct of the process after the Sixers flipped former All-Star and number 1 pick Ben Simmons for him last season. The former MVP was in a situation where he could easily co-lead with Embiid. Playing more of a point guard role, Harden had a great year in his new role averaging 21 points per game, along with 10.7 assists. Nonetheless, his playoff demons still managed to rear their ugly heads. Unfortunately, the 10-time all-star has adopted the stigma of being a playoff “dropper.” In simple terms, Harden tends not to show up in the biggest moments.
This stigma has only held true as Harden’s career has worn on. Capped off by a 9-point, 7-rebound performance on 27.3% from the field in a game 7 defeat against the Celtics, Harden’s playoff woes have continued to be problematic. Harden is also set to be a free agent this summer. There is a strong belief throughout the league that Harden will make his way back to Houston, where he developed into the superstar everyone knows him to be. However, there is a sneaking suspicion that he could also replace an aging Chris Paul in Phoenix. Considering the consistent second-round exits and the prospect of losing Harden, the Sixers could potentially find themselves starting over.
As of today, Doc Rivers has been relieved of his duties as Sixers coach after giving up another series lead. This most recent debacle moves the total up to seven times that Doc Rivers lead teams have failed to close the deal after being up 3-2 or better. As Rivers’ three-year tenure comes to an end, there is now a vacancy for the head coaching position in Philly. With an MVP who is entering his 30s and a volume of uncertainty at the lead guard spot with James Harden’s situation, there isn’t a lot to look forward to as the potential next head coach of this organization.
Philadelphia’s short-term future is bleak from the looks of it. Fans are hoping Tyrese Maxey can make an all-star-level jump if Harden decides to go elsewhere. Embiid is a proven MVP but also has a tendency to shrink in monumental moments, and they aren’t even a full day deep into their coaching search.
The Sixers have gone through a decade-long process going into next season with nothing to show for it. Their fortunes could very well change next year, but it might be time to deem the process experiment as a failure.