This Sunday, the Sixers will play the Toronto Raptors in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals and if they win, the 76ers will face the Milwauke Bucks in the next round.  The Sixers and Raptors franchises have previously faced off in a Game Seven in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals: On May 20th in 2001, the 76ers led by NBA MVP Allen Iverson defeated the Raptors led by NBA Slam Dunk Champion Vince Carter.  In that game, Iverson tallied 21 Points and 16 Assists while Vince Carter also was impressive with 20 Points and 9 Assists as the Sixers would win 88-87 and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to play a Milwaukee Bucks led by All-stars Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson.

Despite the fond memories many Sixers’ fans have of that 2000-01 season as the team made their run to the NBA Finals, I would argue that the 2018-19 Sixers team is actually a better team and more impressive collection of talent than Iverson and his “Band of Misfit Toys”.  This “Hot Take” may be sacrilegious to some of you reading this, but I want to show you how I came to this conclusion.

There are some similarities between the teams that have 18 years of separation between them starting with the Head Coaches:

-Larry Brown, a former coach for the San Antonio Spurs (1988-1992) was in his fourth season with the 76ers when the team reached the 2001 NBA Finals and had a 28-30 postseason record during his time in Philadelphia

-Brett Brown, also a former coach for the San Antonio Spurs (2004-2013), is in his sixth season as the Sixers Head Coach with a playoffs record of 12-9

-Ben Simmons was the First Overall Pick in the 2016 NBA Draft

-Allen Iverson was the First Overall Pick in the 1996 NBA Draft

-Dikembe Mutombo is a 7’2” Center who is from Africa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and was selected to NBA All-Defensive Team six times

-Joel Embiid is also a 7’0” Center from Africa (Cameroon) and has been selected to the NBA All-Defensive Team

Now, let’s look at the differences:

-The 2000-01 Sixers had a 56-26 record

-Allen Iverson and Company averaged 94.7 Points Per Game (15th in NBA) and allowed 90.4 Opponents Points Per Game (5th in NBA)

-Their Offense Rating was 103.6 (13th in the NBA) along with a Defensive Rating of 98.9 (5th in the NBA)

Three players averaged double digit points per game on that roster:

-Iverson –averaged 31.1 PPG along with 2.5 Steals Per Game and  4.6 Asists Per Game

-Mutombo tallied 11.7 PPG with 2.5 Block Per Game and 12.4 Rebounds Per Game

-Aaron McKie had 11.6 PPG plus 1.4 Steals Per Game and 5 Assists Per Game

-Eric Snow led team with 7.4 Assists Per Game

Now let’s compare that to the 2018-19 Sixers

-They finished the season with a 51-31 record

-The Sixers and their Three NBA All-Stars averaged 115.2 Points Per Game (4th in the NBA) and allowed 112.5 Opponents PPG (19th in the NBA)

-Their Offensive Rating was 112.6 (8th in the NBA) and a Defensive Rating of 110.0 (15th in the NBA)

Their Five Starters averaged double digits Points Per Game this season:

-Embiid compiled 27.5 PPG along with 13.6 Rebounds Per Game and 1.9 Blocks Per Game

-Jimmy Butler has averaged 18.2 PPG plus 4 Assists Per Game and 1.8 Steals Per Game

-Tobias Harris tallied 18.2 PPG and 7.9 Rebounds Per Game in a Sixers Uniform

-Simmons averaged 16.9 PPG along with 7.7 Assists Per Game, 8.8 Rebounds Per Game and 1.4 Steals Per Game

-JJ Redick posted 18.1 PPG and finished Seventh in the NBA in 3-Point Field Goals Made (240)

Interesting to see how different these teams are as the 2000-01 team was a top tier defensive team while the 2018-19 team is an elite offensive team but the other difference is the rosters.  This season’s team has more talent in the starting lineup with three all-stars (Embiid, Butler, Simmons) while Redick is one of the best three pointer shooters in the NBA today.  On the flip side, Iverson was the league MVP and their second best offensive player was the Sixth Man of the Year, Aaron McKie.

Also it has to be considered that the Eastern Conference 18 years ago may have been less deep than it is this season.  That year the Pacers were a roster of aging stars, the Raptors were a good but not great roster, and the Bucks had two of the top 20 players in the NBA that season.  This season, the Sixers had the third best record in the NBA and the Bucks have an MVP candidate, the Raptors have arguably the best player in the NBA today, the Celtics have three All-Stars on the roster, and don’t forget about how the Nets pushed the Sixers in the first round.

My conclusion: Pound-for-Pound the 2018-19 Sixers team is more talented than the 2000-01 Sixers, even if they don’t advance the the NBA Finals this season.