15. 2018-19 season (51-31, lost in conf. semifinals)
In many ways, the 2018-19 season represented a shift in focus for the Philadelphia 76ers. After an uninspiring second-round exit in 2018, Elton Brand took over as GM and made his goals clear — title or bust.
While the Sixers ultimately fell short, it was arguably the most entertaining season since Allen Iverson‘s idyllic 2001 run. Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris were brought on via trade, proving the Sixers’ mettle as a legitimate contender. It was a year of reckoning for Brett Brown as well.
There were hurdles. Neither Butler nor Harris were a clean fit, as the Sixers grappled with how to move the ball, run the offense and split the workload. It took months for Butler to settle into a role as backup point guard. Harris never quite found his groove as the fifth option.
Once the dust settled, however, Philadelphia was a quadruple-bounce nightmare away from potentially beating the eventual NBA champions. No team gave Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors more trouble than Philadelphia. It did, in the end, click.
It was also Ben Simmons‘ first season as an All-Star. Embiid made his second All-Star appearance, finished second-team All-Defense again and established himself as basketball’s top center. Harris will now spend the next five seasons in Philadelphia, barring a trade.
While it didn’t yield the highest levels of success, the 2018-19 season marked a large step in the right direction for Philadelphia. Bryan Colangelo’s demons were washed clean, the roster was reconfigured after a demoralizing 2018 finish and the Sixers came close. If Kawhi’s shot bounces five degrees to the left, there’s a chance 2018-19 lands top-five on this list.