The Sixers currently sit in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with a 16-27 record after a stunning comeback against the LA Clippers, without Joel Embiid. He injured himself in the team’s game against Portland last week, but the small silver lining is that they were able to eek out a victory..just as they were on Tuesday. The team have now won six straight at home and showing the world that they can win without their star players was absolutely huge. Philadelphia has 39 games left this season and it’s imperative they finish the season the right way.
By far the most important thing for the Sixers, is to cherish Joel “The Process” Embiid. This 22-year old, Shirley temple loving, Twitter guru has fostered a buzz in Philadelphia that is reminiscent of Allen Iverson’s playing days. He has revitalized basketball in this city. He has actually made fans optimistic about The Process and the team’s future. The young stud is looking to secure his first all-star game appearance after just missing out on being a starter. He’d be the first rookie to get the honor since Blake Griffin in 2009.
The Sixers mortgaged the franchise for Embiid. After only 41 games, it’s clear the talent is there. He could be a transcendent athlete. The comparisons between him and Hakeem Olajuwon have been made and now only time will tell.
The worst possible scenario for Philadelphia would be another serious injury for the young big man, it would be devastating. He’s worked so hard during his first two seasons that he was forced to sit out due to injury.
As of now, he is only allowed to play a maximum of 28 minutes in any given game – keep that. Even if he feels good, no game is worth it. The Kansas Jayhawk product has yet to play in back-to-back game – don’t let him. While Embiid has made comments about the playoffs, the team should not do anything that could negatively effect the long term potential.
Ultimately, it seems like Ben Simmons will return next month around the All-Star Game. The Sixers have been patient in the past with injured young players and that should remain their game plan. However, when he is ready for his debut, the Sixers should monitor him the same way they do Embiid. This team may begin to look like a real NBA team, but again, that’s no reason to make a push for the playoffs if it could have negative consequences on the team’s core players.
Hopefully his season will be about getting a feel for the game at the next level. Brett Brown should experiment with him in the game along side T.J. McConnell, Gerald Henderson, and Nick Stauskas. If Brown can start figuring out a lineup going forward, and Simmons begins to get his feet wet, then his rookie season should be viewed as a success all things considered.
Bryan Colangelo should be busy around the trade deadline next month. It’s been documented to an obscene amount, but the team has three starting caliber centers. It will only continue to be detrimental to the team if they keep them all. Ideally, the Sixers could convince Nerlens Noel to sign a long-term contract and the center from the University of Kentucky could lead the reserves. While Noel has been outspoken about his desire to start somewhere, the city has rallied around him and maybe the recent success could sway his mind.
Then there’s Jahlil Okafor. Okafor is a dominant scoring center. He has a litany of post moves and can score so many different ways, while he often looks clueless on the other end of the court. The third overall pick last year, should be traded. His talent is wasted on our bench. It’s a shame that the Sixers don’t think other teams are willing to pay enough for him, but at some point just cut the loss and move on. The Sixers could probably land a late first round pick/protected pick, or a couple seconds round picks.
The Sixers tend to keep cards close to the vest, but it shouldn’t be a surprise if they’re shopping small forward Robert Covington. He’s a great shooter although he has gone through some slumps this season. More importantly though, his is the best perimeter defender the team has had since Andre Iguodala. He’s a poor man’s DeMarre Carroll. But with the way he plays defense, any team could look to acquire him. Should they ship him, expect the Sixers to look very hard at Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum, the top two small forwards in college basketball.
The Philadelphia Sixers will likely have two top ten choices this June. They will have their own pick and the Lakers’, as long as it doesn’t fall in the top three. Philly currently has the sixth worst record in the league, and LA is tied for second worst based on win percentage. The Lakers have been banged up all season, but once players start getting healthy, the wins could follow. Hopefully they’ll turn things around slightly, just enough to not land in the top three.
The Sixers have a contingency plan thanks to the Sacramento Kings. In a trade made two years ago, the Sixers picked up the right to swap picks. So, Philly will be drafted with whosever pick is higher. They currently are only three games ahead of the Lakers for the worst record in the Western Conference. While it’s always tough to see a player get hurt, Sacramento just lost Rudy Gay for the season and that will hurt the team’s success the rest of the season.
When the Sixers are actually on the board, it’s imperative they address the guard position. With Brown saying Simmons will handle the ball, they need to draft a scoring threat. Guys like Markelle Fultz, Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk would fit that role nicely. This is the deepest draft for guards in years.
The Sixers record does not matter this year because their goal is progress, not making the playoffs. Ideally, Philly will take their newfound confidence and finish the season strong, but how strong should fans want? The more wins they have, the less likely they are to secure a top pick. With 15 wins in their first half of the season, trying to pull off the same record in the second half could be a pleasant surprise having not won more than 20 games since Brett Brown became the head coach.
This summer will be very intriguing. Veterans tended to stay away from Philadelphia for the losing culture. But now there’s a buzz around the city. It seems like every team is overpaying their players with the increased salary cap, but the Sixers have the ability to pay free agents even more. They should target players that could help take this team to the next level like Kyle Lowry, Gordon Hayward, Jrue Holiday or maybe even take a chance on a guy like Tyreke Evans. It’s also important defensively that the Sixers resign Nerlens Noel.