PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One of the most anticipated basketball seasons is set to tip-off in the City of Philadelphia. The Sixers are gearing up for another run at the NBA Finals, especially after the way their 2018-19 season came to an end.
Fans have done everything they can to put that soul-crushing quadruple-doink three-pointer from Kawhi Leornard out of their mind. And on Oct. 23, fans and the team will have a clean slate which will be accompanied by some fresh faces.
Meet the new players that will be taking the court for the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2019-20 NBA season:
Al Horford – From foe-to-family, the 6-foot-10 big man comes to Philadelphia after spending the last three seasons playing for longtime rival Boston Celtics. The team signed the center this offseason to a 4-year, $109 million contract.
Horford, 33, will be paired in the middle with Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid. This is a welcome sign for many fans who considered that Embiid’s kryptonite was the veteran center.
In 13 career matchups against Embiid, Horford has a 10-3 record. In those games, Horford averaged 15 points and nearly eight rebounds against his now teammate.
The 2019-20 season will be Horford’s 13th season, after he was taken with the third overall pick in the 2007 draft out of the University of Florida. He spent the first nine years playing for the Atlanta Hawks, at one point playing alongside current Sixers general manager Elton Brand.
For his career, Horford is averaging 14 points and eight rebounds per game while shooting 52.5% from the field.
Horford is a five-time All-Star and has also been named to the All-NBA team along with being named to an All-Defensive team.
Josh Richardson – The Sixers are hoping Richardson will be able to replace not only Jimmy Butler, who went to the Miami Heat as part of the sign-and-trade that brought Richardson to Philly, but also that the scrappy 6-foot-6 guard can solidify scoring from the shooting guard position after JJ Redick signed with the New Orleans Pelicans.
The 26-year-old from the University of Tennessee has experienced the roller coaster of the NBA. After being selected with the 40th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, he bounced between the Miami Heat and their developmental team Sioux Falls Skyforce.
He proved his worth with the Heat in his second season after returning from a knee injury and signed a four-year extension with Miami.
Last season, Richardson’s fourth in the league, he averaged 16 points per game, which led the Heat. Fans will be looking for Richardson to continue to improve his offensive output, but fans can also expect to see the guard excel on defense.
With a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Richardson offers a combination of athleticism and elite defensive instincts. According to Basketball Reference, only two players had over 290 three-pointers, 200 steals and 109 blocks in 2018 – one player was James Harden — the other, Josh Richardson.
Matisse Thybulle – The Sixers — yet again — are hoping their top draft pick from the University of Washington will be able to make an immediate impact on a team with hopes of making the NBA Finals.
The 2018-19 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year joins a team with a lot of length on the perimeter already.
Thybulle’s 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame is coupled with a 7-foot wingspan which caused issues for many players in the Pac-12 Conference.
Along with being only the second player in conference history to repeat as Defensive Player of the Year, he also led the nation in steals with 3.5 per game in his senior season.
On the offensive side of the ball, Thybulle will be looking to improve on his summer league showing. In five games he averaged 11.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and two assists.
Trey Burke – The backup point guard position will have an interesting makeup this season. Trey Burke, 26, will be looking to prove he’s worthy of some of those backup minutes.
Philadelphia will be his fifth different NBA team. After being taken with the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Burke was traded to the Utah Jazz. Since then, has also played for the Washington Wizards, New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks.
Last season with the Knicks and Mavericks, he appeared in 58 games and averaged 10.9 points and 2.7 assists.
Raul Neto – Another veteran guard vying for time as the backup point guard is Raul Neto. The crafty 27-year-old guard spent all four years of his career playing for the Utah Jazz.
Over those four seasons, the 6-foot-1 guard from Brazil has averaged just under five points and two assists per game.
Kyle O’Quinn – This year the Sixers’ front office clearly made it a point to add depth to the front court, especially with the injury history of Joel Embiid.
Along with the aforementioned Al Horford, Kyle O’Quinn joins the team as a player expected to add some veteran leadership off of the bench.
The 6-foot-10, 29-year-old big man joins the Sixers after spending last year with the Indiana Pacers. Before that, he played for the New York Knicks as well as the Orlando Magic.
Throughout his career, O’Quinn has been a dependable option and Sixers fans should take comfort in knowing this year, there are some viable options to back up their superstar center.
Marial Shayok — The Canada-native burst onto the scene with his elite ability to score at the collegiate level through his four years at Iowa State. His uncanny ability to off of isolation situations earned his Most Valuable Player honors in the Big XII tournament along with being named to the conference’s first team.
The team selected Shayok with the 54th selection in this year’s draft.
During his senior season for the Cyclones, Shayok averaged 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and two assists per game and will look to bring that elite scoring ability to the Sixers, as he looks to be a viable scoring threat off of the bench.
The Sixers have the makings of taking a trip down Broad Street if these new players are able to mesh well with the two pillars of the franchise, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Fans should be excited for the upcoming year but they should also keep an eye on head coach Brett Brown’s ability to build on those last two years and formulate a way to fit his new players to his system.
Only time will tell.