Here’s the missing piece for the 76ers to win it all

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers have seemed to be one move away from being one move away for the last five years now. The roster is almost built to win an NBA Championship, but something is missing to help them reach the ultimate promised land. What is that missing piece?

Much of the conversation around roster construction centers on how best to complement the talents of Joel Embiid. Namely, the front office has been looking for traits in players are speed, three-point shooting, and quality backup center minutes. The thing is, this team has players with all of those skill sets.

The player personnel needed is already there

First up, speed. Creating your own shot and running the fast break effectively helps take pressure off Embiid for the majority of the offensive production. Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, and Shake Milton are all productive guards that have impressive speed and agility to make this offense multidimensional. Two of these three guards come off the bench and give the second unit an identity and provide depth to a team that needs it to come postseason basketball.

Secondly, the most important players needed to play with Embiid are knockdown shooters. With Embiid’s offensive dominance, he frequently gets double-teamed by opposing teams, and good shooters can help prevent him from getting doubled. Players like Ben Simmons, and Matisse Thybulle, until recently, were awful for the 76ers’ offense. They provided no legitimate shooting threats and clogged up the lane for Embiid.

Philly has had average shooters like Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova, and an aging Danny Green. This year, though, the roster has guards that are serious shooting threats. James Harden, PJ Tucker, and Maxey cannot be left alone on the perimeter which forces defenders to stay honest. This gives Embiid more room to operate and see the floor better.

Lastly, the Philadelphia 76ers have struggled to find a reliable backup center to give Embiid rest during the playoffs. Again, former players that have been in this role are Greg Monroe, Dwight Howard, and Andre Drummond. This year, Embiid’s main backup has been Montrezl Harrell. Harrell is a gritty player that fits the Philadelphia culture perfectly and plays hard every time he steps on the court.

There was a three-game span recently where Harrell saw more minutes due to Embiid being out and he averaged 19 points and 5 rebounds per game and proved that he is someone who can be trusted when necessary.

The needed piece isn’t a player after all

So if this roster has all the necessary parts and strengths to surround Embiid, then why do they still feel like they are one piece away? It is because they are. A different head coach is what this team is missing to take them to that next level. Doc Rivers is extremely well-respected in the NBA and has won an NBA Championship with Boston. Yet he has struggled greatly in the playoffs as of late and he hovers around the .500 mark in the postseason.

The Sixers need a new voice that is open to developing young players and not so stuck in their ways. When Brett Brown was fired, it was acknowledged he was a good coach that was dealt a losing hand. Doc is a good coach, but not the right one for this team at this time.

The 76ers have been stagnant and underperformed expectations every year during Doc’s tenure in Philly. It is time to move on, and sooner is better than later. Maximizing Embiid’s prime has to be the primary focus, and that should begin with a new coach soon.