After seeing numerous acquisitions in the offseason, the type of players the Philadelphia 76ers were targeting was clear.
After several notable names on the roster, such as Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris, cited a lack of toughness as a reason why Philly fell short in the playoffs to Miami, the Sixers’ front office took those comments to heart and used it as a blueprint while re-tooling the roster.
During the 2022 NBA Draft, the Sixers chose not to make a first-round selection. Instead, they shipped the 23rd overall pick and Danny Green to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for the young veteran guard, De’Anthony Melton.
When free agency came about, the Sixers added several veterans such as PJ Tucker, Danuel House Jr., and Trevelin Queen. Those free agency acquisitions and Melton all had something in common as they share a similar high-intensity mentality on the court.
Many suggested the Sixers could look like a different squad by adding a supporting cast full of high-energy veterans that carry value on both sides of the ball — but especially defensively. Through one training camp practice, some of those guys have already proven to Sixers head coach Doc Rivers that they made the right moves in the offseason.
To no surprise, PJ Tucker was a day-one standout in the eyes of Rivers. As the veteran forward displayed stellar defense and vocal leadership, Rivers considered the team to look “night and day” when Tucker was on and off the court.
In addition to Tucker, the Sixers head coach also praised the veteran guard Melton for being disruptive on the defensive end. He apparently threw the Sixers off on the other end when he was competing on the court.
“Other than PJ, the best defensive player by a long shot was De’Anthony Melton,” said Rivers, according to Sixers Wire’s Ky Carlin. “He actually, in some ways, screwed practice up because we were having guys pick up full court, but we couldn’t run our offense. He was disrupting the guards a lot today.”
In recent seasons, the Sixers were used to having a set of perimeter defenders who bothered guards as Matisse Thybulle and Ben Simmons were recognized as some of the NBA’s top defenders over the last few years.
Simmons’ holdout and a combination of other factors beyond him caused the Sixers to take a hit in the perimeter defense department.
While it will be difficult for the Sixers to replace a Defensive Player of the Year finalist in Simmons, it seems the Sixers are bringing a tough defensive mentality back to the court, and new additions like Melton and Tucker are already leading the charge.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.