So your starting roster is set for the Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were a given. There’s no denying that Embiid, if healthy, could be the face of the NBA. He’s charismatic and unstoppable on the floor, again, when healthy. Simmons looks to be every bit of the player many said he would be. As Lebron 2.0 with size, speed and an amazing court vision that is elite among those in the NBA, Simmons is expected to dominate.
JJ Redick is the $23 Million dollar man for the Sixers. Not only will he be counted on for points from beyond the arc, but he can provide the type of leadership that the Sixers have lacked the past few years. A veteran to show the younger players what it means to be a professional. He will help spread the floor for Simmonds and Embiid, who are both adept at getting the ball to others.
Rovert Covington will start at small forward and provide another piece of the defensive puzzle that allows Simmons to grow in a defensive role. He’s a shut down guy that’s developed nicely for the Sixers. The point guard spot will leave some to question the ability of Jerryd Bayless to be the starter, but he’s not being counted on to run the offense. He’s another veteran that can play quality minutes while letting Markelle Fultz transition to the NBA while playing on the second team in Philly.
The second team is going to be tough as well, for the opponents. Dario Saric is the star of the second team in Philly and he’s the man that should be the reigning Rookie of the Year. Saric improved immensely down the stretch for a Sixers team that was without Embiid last year and proved that he’s deserving of quality minutes in the league. He’ll be teamed with Fultz and help to give the rookie a break when getting in to the league, more than just not being a starter.
Fultz is the guy that everyone said would be a start in the league and it’s the reason he was the first player chosen in this years draft. Together, Saric and Fultz might be starting on another team, but in Philly, they’ll head up a troubling second team for the best young team in the league.
Justin Anderson will provide athleticism and scoring on the second team, while hopefully developing in to a quality defensive player. If those three are good, you still have the hopes and dreams of lots of people that Nik Stauskas develops in to the player that JJ Redick already is. He’s a shooter that hasn’t shot well. He needs to find some stability and consistent shooting. If he’s not the guy then Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot or Furkan Korkmaz will be waiting to take his place. Korkmaz has shown, in the preseason, that he can shoot, he just is looking for the chance to prove it in the games that count.
That about sums it up for the Sixers, almost. There’s still the case, as curious as it is, of Jahlil Okafor. Anyone in their right mind would be happy with a 6’11” center that can score seventeen points and grab seven rebounds a game. Especially, if that player was only three years ago, considered one of the top players in his draft class. It’s not so much that Okafor has failed as he hasn’t really been given a chance. He doesn’t fit in to the current Sixers style and is seen more as a mistake made by Sam Hinkie. He can be had for a good price, but the Sixers won’t be giving him up, especially if the concerns remain over Embiids health. He’s shown this offseason and preseason that he’s looking to make a mark in the league as he’s improved his fitness and a new commitment to better defense. This will make him more valuable if he can get some points and minutes for the Sixers early on. Any number of teams, from those looking for another piece as they try to win a title or those looking for a quality young player to keep their rebuild.
So, where do the Sixers go this year? The playoffs, while not given, is a pretty good assumption if everyone stays healthy. Will they make a real run at the NBA title this year? No. Will they make it tough for the teams in the East to get to the championship? They can, ifthey stay healthy and they all play as their expected.
The safe bet for these Sixers is that they finish somewhere upwards of forty wins but not more than fifty. That should be enough to get them in to the playoffs for the Eastern Conference, where they should be able to cause a few teams some problems.
With two first round and three second round picks in one of the next two drafts, the Sixers will continue to get younger and better. They will continue the long process that has finally started to see some results. They will be an exciting team that the NBA will start to notice on a national level. They’ll be the team that other will look at when they’re starting their own rebuilds.
If healthy, Joel Embiid could challenge for the MVP and comeback player of the year. Simmons and Fultz could get Rookie of the Year Votes, and Dario Saric is looking at Sixth Man votes. Giving the Sixers a jump start on the hardware their players are ultimately looking for in the form of an NBA title.
Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports