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Marcus Hayes: No, the Sixers didn't miss on the 'Nova Knicks. They never fit in Philly.

Marcus Hayes, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Basketball

PHILADELPHIA — The best possible outcome for the NBA and its Finals in June would be a matchup between the New York Knicks, with their Villanova DNA and their bulldog playing style, and the Minnesota Timberwolves and their defense played with the ferocity of an actual wolf pack. Jalen Brunson and Anthony Edwards would goose with fresh names and fresh games a league grown stale with LeBron Steph.

It also would leave Philadelphia gnashing its teeth over what might have been.

Imagine the impact on the 76ers’ roster that such complete and selfless professionals as Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo would have. Those three played the biggest roles in bouncing the Sixers in six games in the first round. They did so not just with grit and guile, but with talent and skill and basketball smarts — the same way the Wildcats won the 2016 and 2018 NCAA titles.

Jay Wright developed those championship teams not just in the Sixers’ backyard but sometimes in the Sixers’ living room, since Villanova plays some of its biggest games at the Wells Fargo Center. So, how did the Sixers not see this wealth of ability displayed before them?

Because that wealth of ability did not exist when the Sixers had their chances to harvest it.

There’s no way the Sixers or their fans would have endured five seasons of The Process developing three guys who didn’t start in their first two years in the league. Whose minutes are you going to give them? Jimmy Butler’s?

 

It’s fun to fantasize, but it’s silly to think that the ‘Nova Knicks would ever have become the ‘Nova Sixers.

Batman

First, to Brunson. The Mavericks drafted him with the third pick of the second round in 2018. As a rookie he averaged almost 22 minutes per game. He scored 9.3 points and made just 34.8% of his 3-pointers.

The 2018-19 Sixers were built to win a championship. Point guard Ben Simmons was the reigning Rookie of the Year, was an ascending All-Star, and was considered a future MVP candidate. JJ Redick was the starting shooting guard. The Sixers hoped that Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick from the 2017 draft, would eventually contribute, and T.J. McConnell was the emergency plan.

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