By Joseph Santoliquito


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The current configuration of the 76ers says that they’re going to be a little bigger and a little slower. But the magic that Sixers General Manager Elton Brand performed this week also highly suggests that the Sixers are also going to be a little better — possibly much better than the 51-31 team that reached the NBA’s Eastern Conference semifinals, extending the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors to seven games.

The additions of Josh Richardson and Al Horford actually make the pieces fit.

The Sixers will be longer, larger and though they don’t have anyone who can be singled as the go-to guy in a tight spot, they have five players in Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Richardson and Horford as go-to stoppers.

JJ Redick, though a glue guy and outside shooting threat, was a small defensive liability, and that could not have been more evident than during the playoffs. His loss won’t sting that much.

Jimmy Butler wanted to be “the man,” so Brand obliged. Butler is now “the man” in South Beach, surrounded by a group of average players that might barely make the playoffs.

According to Neil Paine for FiveThirtyEight: “Add it up, and the Sixers’ resulting CARMELO rating (1686) is one of the best in the league, roughly equivalent to that of a 59-win team. With the Warriors diminished and some of the buzzier Eastern Conference teams of the summer still having big question marks (the Nets, for instance, might not live up to the hype in the short term with Kevin Durant injured all season), Philadelphia may have managed to successfully navigate a treacherous offseason and set itself up for a legitimate chance in what should be a wide-open NBA title hunt next year.”

For those that have doubted Brand, and he certainly had his share of detractors a few weeks ago during the NBA Draft, it may be time to rethink the quality job Brand has done in reshaping this team.

Joseph Santoliquito