The constant identity shifts that have been undertaken by the 76ers organization aren’t conducive to maintaining sustained success. The different culture waves that have permeated within the organization, whether it be the process years led by Sam Hinkie (2013-2016), the years where they were on the cusp of contending led by Bryan Colangelo (2017-2018), or the attempts at truly contending year(s) led by Elton Brand (2019-2020), failed to produce any resemblance of true progress or strong culture. This past offseason, that changed.
They’ve been a rebuilding team. They’ve been one of the young teams on the rise. They’ve been a contender. And they’ve even been a team that wasn’t good enough to be a contender, but not worse enough to miss the playoffs. The organization has been marred by constant transitions and shifts in identity. However, this offseason, there was an set direction encompassed.
Brett Brown reportedly shied away from confrontation. Bryan Colangelo secretly operated burner accounts that bashed players. Elton Brand (and the collaborative front office) indiscreetly accelerated the team’s championship window. Brand (and the collaborative front office) then, didn’t resign the main player required to actually compete for the championship and replaced that player with two players who destroyed any resemblance of fit on offense.
The organization lacked a vision. They lacked a clear path. Worst of all, they lacked accountability. But this offseason, the lack of accountability that meandered its way throughout the organization didn’t go without notice.
“I just think going forward, he’s got to have some more accountability. I don’t think there was much accountability this season, and I think that was part of our problem,” former Sixers guard Josh Richardson said in August.
“We weren’t in a position to go into that bubble and win,” Simmons said. “I think our mindset was off, and accountability is a huge part of winning,” Ben Simmons said in reference to last season.
Those same accountability issues have been purged. There are now executives and coaches that want to build and establish a sustained culture.
“”Accountability is key,” Doc Rivers said in his introductory press conference.
“If you don’t [take accountability], you’re not gonna win. We have to be accountable to each other every single day. That’s the only way we’re going to be successful here,” Rivers continued.
There has now been a specific emphasis placed on fit and having a history with management within the franchise and its seen everywhere in the organization.
Daryl Morey and Doc Rivers worked together in Boston. They fit together well.
Players such as Dwight Howard, Tobias Harris, and Seth Curry all have history with either Morey or Rivers.
And as far as the on court element of fit, Morey has targeted floor spacers for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The pathway is clear for Doc Rivers.
“Go help. I dare you, this is Seth Curry, this is Furkan, this is Shake, this is Tobias. Be my guest,” Rivers said in reference to outside shooting and possible doubling of Joel Embiid in the post.
One of the major components of this team will also be Rivers willingness to allow freedom within the offense, specifically for Ben Simmons.
“I care that he’s a great player. I’m going to let him play. I’m going to give him the keys and let him be free and play,” Rivers said.
I think this speaks to a larger message about what this team has become in just 3 short months.
There is more of a focus on maximizing talent within this organization.
Gone are the days of proclaimed offensive identity and players having to adapt into a specific scheme. Rivers will allow the “lab” (in Rivers own words) to shape the identity of this team.
There’s been a shift within this organization. Team Owner, Josh Harris has placed the right people in positions to build something. And properly build it, I might add. For the first time in a long time, there is a clarity of vision within the makeup of this franchise. There have been calculated steps taken to ensure that the focus is on fit and the maximization of players on the roster. The franchise now has a clear direction. There has been strategicness with every move made this season. Strategicness that ensures that every piece fits and is complementary to the organization’s two crown jewels. The 76ers’ brass has established an organizational identity that not only has a chance to produce immediate success, but also, long-term practical success as well. At least on paper, it seems like they have.