The Philadelphia 76ers hoped to get a championship push last season by signing former Boston Celtics big man Al Horford. Instead, they ended up with an awkward starting lineup that had a lack of spacing and shooting, which caused Horford to regret coming to Philly, and other Sixers to lose interest in the season.
Gunning for the Eastern Conference's number one seed, former Sixers head coach Brett Brown entered the 2019-2020 NBA season with high hopes. He ended it on a dark note, though, as the Sixers ended the regular season in sixth place and quickly found themselves swept in the playoffs by the Boston Celtics.
Brown was fired -- and after a forgetful one-year stint in the City of Brotherly Love, Al Horford's future in Philly was already in question despite him signing a four-year deal in the summer of 2019.
We've heard plenty about how the Sixers' starting lineup fit wasn't ideal from Sixers starter Joel Embiid throughout last season. And recently, Horford broke his silence and revealed the year took a toll on him as well.
“I just think, just putting it all out there, I just think it just wasn't a good fit,” Horford told Sports Illustrated's senior writer, Chris Mannix. “We just weren't jelling. We weren't meshing. And obviously, we had a lot of big guys out there in particular out playing, and it just wasn't fitting.”
With the Sixers, Horford had one of the least productive seasons of his career. For the first time since the 2008-2009 season, the veteran averaged less than 12 points-per-game. And as the Sixers relied on his three-point shooting more than they probably should've, Horford drained below his career three-point percentage while averaging a career-high of three-point attempts-per-game.
“Last season was frustrating because I could never really show what I was capable of or play my game,” says Horford. “I've always known that I'm able to play. I know that I can play at a high level. That's never been an issue for me."
Although 67 games is a small sample size, the Sixers' revamped front office saw and knew enough to accept that Horford would not pan out long-term for the Sixers. Therefore, Philly sent Horford in a package to Oklahoma City and received Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson in return.
Although we're only halfway through the 2020-2021 NBA season, it's absolutely safe to say that the breakup between Horford and the 76ers worked out well for both parties. With OKC, Horford is back on track as his season's production nearly matches his career-averages across the board.
Meanwhile, the Sixers have a much better fit with Danny Green in the starting lineup. With the awkwardness eliminated, Joel Embiid has been the NBA's frontrunner for MVP, and the Sixers as a whole are thriving as they currently possess the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_