We were so close to having a drama-free Process Disciples where we could just relax and recap the past year and talk a little bit about what’s in store for 2019. So close. But would it really be 76ers basketball if there wasn’t a Friday afternoon Woj bomb about Jimmy Butler drama just two days before an Eagles playoff game that everyone’s focused on? Of course not. We’re sticking to the script of what we had planned, but we can’t ignore the elephant in the room.
The contributors for this edition of Process Disciples are:
1. What was your favorite 76ers moment of 2018?
Mangigian: It was April 24, 2018, Meek Mill was just released from prison. A few hours later, Meek was on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center, ringing the bell prior to the 76ers closing out their playoff series with the Miami Heat. It was a day of triumph, in more ways than one.
Anderson: My favorite moment took place on Jan. 28. Joel Embiid threw down one of the most vicious dunks on Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. When Embiid found himself past his defender thanks to a pump fake, I knew he was going in for the slam. Unfortunately, Westbrook attempted a charge but ended up getting bulldozed by Embiid when he was airborne. The best part was when Embiid glared at Westbrook afterward.
Joel Embiid throws it down on Russell Westbrook… whoa! pic.twitter.com/r9nVbs2D0m
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) January 28, 2018
Rose: It has to be the Bryan Colangelo situation. Ben Detrick’s piece about Bryan Colangelo’s burner accounts is responsible for one of the most incredible nights in NBA Twitter history. From the “find a new slant” tweet to the burner saying “b*tt” instead of “butt,” to the Twitter geniuses who figured out that the accounts were connected to Colangelo’s wife’s phone number, it was just a goldmine that I’m forever thankful for. It’s a weird favorite moment to have, admittedly, but it might be the one moment from 2018 that will never be forgotten about.
2. Rate the 76ers’ season thus far from 1-10 and explain why:
Mangigian: 8. I would say the season has been a success overall to this point. Obviously, the team still has things to work out, but things have gone well so far. Getting Jimmy Butler is a huge part of the positives, and we will have to be patient with the final 20%.
Anderson: I’d say a 7. The 76ers’ season hasn’t been terrible, nor has it been the best. Sitting at 25-14 right now, and fourth in the Eastern Conference, the 76ers still have room to grow. The addition of Jimmy Butler has helped, so if they can grow stronger the rest of the season, they will have more success come playoff time.
Rose: Yeah, I think a 7 works. The team acquired their third superstar and have been playing fine basketball, although definitely not without some hiccups. Not sure if it’s just me, but right now, it just seems like a lull in the season. Games almost feel like a chore to watch at some point because Jimmy Butler is being used like Covington, Ben still can’t shoot, and the bench often requires eye bleach. They’re winning though, so you can’t really complain … well, so we thought.
3. The 2018-19 season is a success if:
Mangigian: For the season to be a success, the 76ers would have to win a playoff series and seriously challenge Toronto or Boston in a seven-game series. If this doesn’t happen, fans will be disappointed. The 76ers offensive dynamic will have a lot to do with the kind of success they reach this year.
Anderson: Defeat a top team in the playoffs. We know the 76ers struggle when they face teams like the Celtics in the playoffs, but getting revenge would be sweet. The biggest statement Philadelphia can make about themselves as a team this year is showing the league that they can take control of a seven-game series against an elite team. It will be difficult to compete against these top teams, but it would show that they’re serious about becoming dominant in the East.
Rose: I’d say this team has to make the Eastern Conference Finals or at least prove to be competitive in the semis, and they have to beat the teams they are expected to beat. Basically, if they get knocked out of the playoffs by anyone but Boston or Toronto, or maaaybe Milwaukee, I think that would be pretty disappointing. If they can’t go at least as far as they did last year with Jimmy Butler on the roster, there will be a lot of decisions to be made by the 76ers’ front office. Whether that be retaining Butler, free agency moves, coaching changes, whatever. This team has no time for regression.
4. What should be the 76ers’ New Years Resolution?
Mangigian: Show up when it matters. I am far too tired of watching the 76ers put on a clinic against mediocre teams and then dropping an egg against Boston and Toronto. This free-flowing Philadelphia offense comes to a standstill against talented, well-coached teams. It is time for the 76ers to start showing up when we need them most.
Anderson: Finish games without turning the ball over so much. Towards the end of most games, I see too many costly turnovers for the 76ers that prove to be very crucial. These miscues at the end of games may not be as hurtful now in the regular season but will be hurtful in the playoffs. Ball control is valuable to the game of basketball and turning the ball over down the stretch won’t win you games. Take care of the ball.
Rose: They need to acquire some sort of bench help. The 76ers have one of the worst benches in the game and it is killing the starters because they consistently have to come back in to close out games that they would have already put out of reach with any bit of depth. The end of that Suns game would have been a fantastic time for Ben and Joel to take a seat, but instead, we got Demetrius Jackson putting up an astounding -16 in 14 minutes in a game that the 76ers were leading by 30 at one point! You know how hard it is to acquire Jimmy Butler and be worse than the year before? Well, the bench is making it easy.
5. Woj reported Friday that Butler has “aggressively challenged” Brett Brown regarding his role in the 76ers’ offense. Thoughts?
Mangigian: The 76ers knew what they had with Jimmy Butler when they traded for him. If you’re asking me, this is what they signed him to do. Butler isn’t scared to speak up when he feels the need to, and that is something the 76ers desperately needed. I am grateful to have a guy like Butler, who will speak out when he is uncomfortable, instead of keeping it quiet and signing an extension before voicing his displeasure.
Anderson: Jimmy Butler is an aggressive player. Philly knew what was coming with Butler when he joined the 76ers: competitiveness and aggression. Butler is a vocal guy and he has shown everyone in the league that, so him addressing Brown now does not surprise me. To me, it’s good for Butler to talk about challenges with his coach because it shows what type of person/player he really is.
Rose: There’s a couple of ways to look at this. One is that, if Jimmy Butler was really all about winning (like he claimed during his Wolves drama), then he should be happy with his role because the team is 16-8 since he’s been here. Not to mention, an offense that regularly trots out TJ McConnell, Jonah Bolden, Mike Muscala, and Furkan Korkmaz is ranked fifth in the NBA since the Jimmy Butler trade (which should probably put a rest to the Brett Brown slander, but we all know that’s not happening). Another way to look at it is that Jimmy’s right, he’s being used like a Covington-esque player because Brett Brown does not have a history with a player like Butler in Philly and he needs to adapt to a more PnR-oriented offense if he wants the Jimmy Butler he thought he got in the trade. Either way, Brett Brown has handled player relations about as perfectly as a coach can since he’s been here and I fully expect that the two have immense respect for one another and will figure it out way better than Thibs or Hoiberg did.