7 Players the Philadelphia 76ers held onto for way too long

Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Sixers podcast (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Sixers podcast (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia 76ers
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3. Dwight Howard

“Ok bro… what is this? WHAT is this!? Dwight Howard was on the team for ONE YEAR. How can you POSSIBLY say the 76ers held onto him for too long it was ONE MEASELY YEAR!!”

Listen, imaginary heckler who has increasingly become a mainstay of my written work. You have to remember the holistic approach we take here. Howard’s tenure with the 76ers was so short some would call it insignificant. But I say that the 62 games he played in 2020-2021 were very significant because they represent a critical problem the 76ers have been completely unable to solve:

Who is backing up Joel Embiid?

Best player insurance policies are a delicate business. You definitely don’t want to invest too much capital in a position ideally filled by your franchise guy, but hanging him out to dry with zero or negative help is never a good idea either.

Howard and the next two guys on this list represent the failure to achieve a good balance of depth and efficiency behind Embiid. If this was a Disney Pixar movie and NBA players were actually talking cars, Embiid would be a Ferrari. But even the nicest cars can’t be driven all the time, and with how reliant the 76ers have become on Embiid, his odometer is starting to scream out in pain.

Putting mileage on your stars without proper depth can kill a season, and Howard was more of a throwing-things-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks player rather than an actually coherent plan. My hunch is that once LeBron James left the East, the 76ers felt like winning right the heck now was the way to go and grabbed an experienced former star to try to do that.

But his 62 games were 62 excuses for not solving the Embiid backup conundrum. He was a name-brand player without any of the corresponding production and represents a season of procrastination. He was essentially a prayer that it would all come together nicely and no one would look back on it with any angst.

But here I am, looking back and with plenty of angst to go around.