It’s official, Ben Simmons has been traded... well, in our imaginary Liberty Ballers All-Time Sixers Draft!
It’s a new year and so what better way to kick off 2022 by drafting some legen...wait for it...dary All-Time Sixers lineups? The current Sixers are 21-16, fifth place in the East. They’re in the thick of it, despite not having a certain player in the fold. So rather than bring you another trade rumor round up, we set out to draft some legends.
The criteria here was essentially picking the team who would win a four-round playoff tournament, with modern rules, set in our modern era. We didn’t have to worry about the regular season grind, we basically just had to build a team that could beat each other’s teams in a seven game series. You get the best version of this player when he was in the Sixers uniform. So yeah, Wilt Chamberlain can shoot threes if he wants to and you don’t get Dikembe Mutombo’s Denver Nuggets peak.
We did a classic snake draft, beginning left to right, snaking back and forth. The final board is as follows:
There was one trade:
Dave originally selected Jrue Holiday 15th overall. Then he moved Jrue for Ben Simmons (who went 17th) with some swaps.
Final trade as follows:
Dave gets: Ben Simmons, pick 25 (Kyle Korver was selected), and 1st pick of coach (Larry Brown was selected).
Dan got Jrue Holiday, pick 23 (Doug Collins was selected) , and 2nd coach pick (Billy Cunningham was selected).
World B. Free
Coach: Mike D’Antoni
GM: Sam Hinkie
Jerseys: 2021-22 City Edition “Spectrum” Uniforms
Shamus rationale: I’m banking on continuity and cohesion here, attempting to recreate the 1983 NBA title team with three Hall of Famers and a lethal scorer in Andrew Toney.
There’s more versatility here than initially imagined for a squad that’s mostly players who succeeded in Philly before the 21st century. Bobby Jones is one of the rare players who would actually be better in the modern era of the NBA as a do-it-all defender than he was in his own time. If Moses Malone is off the floor, Jones can function as a small-ball five as Draymond Green did during the height of the Golden State Warriors’ 2010s dynasty. Having another All-Defensive Team player like Theo Ratliff coming off the bench gives extra protection against all the other great big men who’ve played for the Sixers over the years too. Andre Miller would likely be my starting point guard as he’s the most traditional distributor on my roster, but I could easily see Seth Curry closing games with the other ‘83 dudes.
I cheated a bit here in putting Mike D’Antoni as the head coach given he spent just a single season in Philly and was only an assistant head coach, but as a guy who was on the forefront of the revolution of basketball in the 2000s, I’m banking on him being able to bridge the generation gap on my roster. D’Antoni will have Curry and World B. Free launching threes when they’re not feeding Moses in the paint.
A mini death lineup of Curry-Free-Julius Erving-Toni Kukoc-Jones would have a lot of creativity and playmaking while also possessing the ability to play at a quicker pace against today’s players. Seeing Dr. J glide to the rim and throw down alley-oops from Kukoc in the instant classic “Spectrum” City Edition jerseys would make for the most aesthetically pleasing Sixers team ever based on looks and the funky ‘70s vibes of Erving, Jones, Free and George McGinnis.
Coach: Alex Hannum
GM: Daryl Morey
Jerseys: 2018 cream-colored, script font
Let’s start at the top. With picks four and five, I secured The Answer and The Round Mound of Rebound. Both Iverson and Barkley reached unconscionable heights as Sixers, and both played in Philly during their prime years. While in a long-term exercise one might be a bit concerned for the potential combustibility in the locker room between these two flamboyant personalities, for this ‘one playoff-run’ geared exploit, I’m betting on talent at the top, and Barkley and AI at their Philly peaks have as high a ceiling as any pair you’ll find in this here piece. After those two, I secured a bruising inside man to man the interior in Schayes, an assist man unconcerned with getting his own shot and eager to play defense in Mo Cheeks, and a glue-guy swingman like Chet ‘The Jet’ Walker who can fill it up from all over the court to round out our star-studded starting five.
Off the bench, we hand the ball to Carter (who played both on and off ball for the Sixers in the 70s), Stack, Iverson’s old buddy, Philly’s own Aaron McKie, ‘Baby Barkley’ playing understudy for the senior Barkley, and then ‘Chocolate Thunder’ rounds out the squad. Dawkins was my sixth pick in the draft. I found his inclusion on my roster essential — if I’m going to even semi-survive some minutes against Embiid, Chamberlain and Malone, Dawkins is going to need to give us some some juice off the pine. And don’t sleep on head coach Alex Hannum! He won Coach of the Year, he won a title, and he’s in the Hall of Fame as a head coach. He, Daryl, AI and the squad are bringing home this fictitious title in the cream unis, just you wait.
Coach: Billy Cunningham
GM: Pat Williams
Jerseys: 2019-2020 classic edition
My first pick was an easy one - take the all-time great in Wilt Chamberlain. After that, I took two other Hall of Fame members of the 1967 team: Hall Greer and Billy Cunningham. There were a couple others I was considering, but I was comfortable with these two being the best talents (at least relative to their eras) of anyone available.
I needed a point guard and someone who played in the NBA during the 3 point era, so Dana Barros, who made his lone All-Star appearance in Philadelphia when he shot 46.4 percent from 3 on 5.2 attempts per game in the 1994-95 season, was an easy choice.
My next need was a power forward, and I decided to take a shot on Ben Simmons, even though I can’t stand him. I felt comfortable with him as one of the best forwards available, and I felt fantastic about Dave trying to make a trade with me for Ben if I took him. So I drafted Ben, and ultimately, I was able to get Jrue Holiday from Dave (whom he had taken two picks before I took Ben and whom I preferred to Ben due to my desire to surround Wilt with shooters), and as part of the deal he agreed to trade me pick 23 and second choice of coach in exchange for pick 25 and first choice of coach.
My team was already heavy on off ball guards and wings, but still wanted to go with the best players available. I added more 3 point shooting with Hersey Hawkins, and then I took Doug Collins, who was a much better player than coach. With my next couple picks, I had to fill out my roster a bit. I was happy to get Derrick Coleman as my backup center, and Johnny Dawkins was the best point guard remaining.
With my last pick,I wanted a four, and my heart was telling me Thaddeus Young, one of my all-time favorite Sixers. Much more strongly, my heart was telling me “NOT TOBIAS HARRIS.” Then I took Tobias Harris because my head told me no four available had as good of a season as Tobias had last year, and we were drafting players based on their Sixers peaks.
I had second pick at coach, and I was excited to take Billy Cunningham, coach of the 1983 title team, to become my player-coach. Then I had the last choice of general manager, but I was still able to get Pat Williams, who was GM of the 1983 team. Finally, I had first selection of jerseys. Those 2019-20 Classic Edition jerseys would be fitting and beautiful in any era (even Al Horford couldn’t make them uncool).
Coach: Larry Brown
GM: Sachin Gupta
Jerseys: ‘78-91, 1983 ‘they won the championship’ edition
It wasn’t easy to strand Chuck or A.I. but I need 16 playoff wins and the two-way dominance of a healthy Embiid, one of the most dominant forces in any era, called to me. I almost took A.I. who might be even more dominant in this era with better spacing, etc.
Frankly, it’s straight up insulting to the 76ers’ storied history that I selected Jimmy Butler next. Jimmy played here for 67 total games and never made it out of the second round and I took him over some names literally dangling from the rafters. But JB was an easy pick for me. Here’s my thing. Kyle Lowry is the greatest Toronto Raptor ever. But peak Kawhi Leonard is the Raptor you want for a single playoff run. I applied that type of rationale to this draft. Gimme Jimmy.
Here’s my other thing. Like Shamus argues above, Bobby Jones is one of the rare players who’d actually be better in our modern era. It underscores a cruel truth, most would not be.
I think my group blitzes the competition, shutting down every team defensively with some switch-everything lineups, the likes most of them have never seen. Everyone in my starting unit is All-NBA Defensive team worthy, and one of ‘em won a Finals MVP for his defense on LeBron in ‘15. After we take this title I’m thinking my guys petition for a crack at the 2017 Warriors and 1996 Bulls. I think they profile as a better defensive unit than Larry Brown’s own ‘04 Pistons, who profile as a better group than Chuck D’s Bad Boys.
Butler is going to be our point guard, but Simmons and even Sweet Lou can share the responsibility as well.
I know my trade was not popular among my locker room. I underestimated Dan’s objectivity and thought I could take Jrue with Ben coming back to me. Actually, I began this “hope Ben comes back” thing when I took Iguodala, predicting Shamus would go vintage, and Steve would happily strand Simmons for another few rounds. Eventually it bit me and I had to offer a swap in a reverse Dario-Elfrid trade overthink. I had a shooter in mind next and with Redick, Korver, and Hawkins all fitting the bill, I knew I’d get at least one. And I got to move up one coaching spot where I targeted Brown.
With number 5 (Kyle) and 15 (Redick) on the all-time NBA threes made list, I have two of the best shooters in history on my bench to help with spacing when needed. Green is 40th and Williams is 43rd all-time giving me four of the most prolific snipers in history. When Joel takes a rest we can use Dik or we can go small-ball with some three-point happy lineups.
Joel and Jimmy weren’t thrilled to play with Ben, Andre and Lou were excited to play with Jrue. So I’m leaving it to former Hinkie lieutenant GM Sachin Gupta to do what some complained Hinkie did not do enough of, and use soft skills to explain the process and rationale of our trade. That being, everyone is at their Sixers’ peak, and for Simmons that’s probably his third-team All-NBA and First Team All Defense 2020 campaign. Good luck scoring on us.
Which team would win?
This poll is closed
Cover art credit to Erin Dunne @a_dunne_deal