By Bill Gorman, Sports Talk Philly Writer
“Defense wins championships.”
From the time I was six years old watching football with my father, this mantra was drilled into my head. Well, that and “Ron Jaworski will be the best quarterback you’ll ever see,” so not everything he said was perfect.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ defense was not bad in 2018-19. The problem was it was not as good as it was in 2017-18, and that led to some late-game meltdowns in losses to teams like the Atlanta Hawks (three times) and the Chicago Bulls that may well have cost the team a chance to be the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Which means that Kawhi Leonard’s shot would have had to go down in front of a Philadelphia crowd that stepped up big in Games 3 and 6 instead of his much-friendlier Toronto crowd.
So Elton Brand undertook yet another team makeover, the third since he took over the general manger's job in September of 2018. He traded Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat, receiving Josh Richardson in return. He signed Al Horford to a four-year contract. He brought back Tobias Harris on a five-year contract and re-signed Mike Scott and James Ennis III. Brand also used the NBA Draft as a conduit to add defensive maven (see below) Matisse Thybulle with the 20th pick in the first round. In addition, he allowed JJ Redick, TJ McConnell, Boban Marjanovic, Greg Monroe and Amir Johnson, all of whom could be described as weaker defenders, to leave via free agency.