Philadelphia 76ers Midseason Report Cards

The Philadelphia 76ers are 29-13 and third in the Eastern Conference standings. They have exceeded all expectations after the James Harden debacle, but in this exercise, everyone will be graded on their individual efforts as midseason report cards are given.
Denver Nuggets v Philadelphia 76ers
Denver Nuggets v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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Nick Nurse
Philadelphia 76ers v Charlotte Hornets / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

Nick Nurse: B+

Going from a doc to a nurse proved to be an excellent move for the Sixers. Nick Nurse is the best Sixers coach in recent memory and has been quite the refreshment coming from Doc Rivers’ outdated tendencies. Nurse is not afraid to adjust or include modern concepts into how the team plays. He was dealt a tough hand; Harden was requesting a trade and the roster remained murky. Nurse has been able to adjust on-the-fly and integrate new plays rather smoothly. The only noticeable flaw Nurse has compared to Rivers is how they have fared without Embiid so far. This may be due to small sample size, or the different rosters, but Rivers had more success in the games Embiid missed. Ultimately, this flaw does not matter much as this team will be going as far as Embiid can take them in the playoffs, but it is noteworthy.

Independent of Doc Rivers, Nurse’s insistence on Marcus Morris over Robert Covington when healthy is the most glaring flaw. There is still an argument to be made for Morris, but it is worrisome how much he is relying on him. Morris will likely be played off the floor in the playoffs, and one must hope that Nurse is prepared to adjust to that. It is unclear how much credit Nurse should get for the leaps made by Maxey, Embiid, and Oubre, but these players are having career years under him. Nick Nurse is a proven head coach in the playoffs and looks poised to make another run this year.

Daryl Morey: B+ For Now….

The only in-season move Morey made so far is the Harden blockbuster, but the main point of that move was to acquire assets that could be rerouted either this trade deadline or in the offseason. The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and Morey is at a fascinating inflection point. Going all-in on this team may not be wise because they are much better suited to make a big splash in the offseason with all the cap space they have in addition to having more draft picks available to trade, but is it worth not going all in on a team that features Embiid in his prime, Maxey on a rookie contract, and several crucial players set to expire or retire? It is an incredibly difficult decision, not to mention the actual negotiations that will take place, but Morey is one of the highest-regarded front office decision makers for a reason. 

His grade remains to be seen, but the Harden trade has gone much better than anyone could’ve expected. The Sixers pretty much had no leverage and Morey managed to get two first-round picks from an aging team, and three rotation players. As a result, this is one of the deepest Sixers teams that has been assembled recently, and the picks add future flexibility. Trading a disgruntled player for this return (and getting off of the P.J Tucker contract) has reinvigorated the team.

Morey’s offseason moves are also factored into this grade however and bringing in Nick Nurse as well as Kelly Oubre has done wonders for this team. Patrick Beverley and Mo Bamba have not quite been as promising but remain positive additions for the fact they were minimum deals. Deciding not to bring back key contributors can be a tough decision, but early signs indicate that Morey was smart to avoid bringing back Shake Milton, Georges Niang, and Jalen McDaniels as they all are struggling on their new teams. Morey’s biggest challenge is right around the corner with the upcoming trade deadline, but as of now, Morey has had an excellent season.