It’s the end of September and that means it’s time for the NBA discussions to begin. The Sixers are usually left out of conversations involving NBA powerhouses, but this may be the year that changes.
What people tend to forget in regard to Simmons, is that he’s been learning how to play the point guard position for the past two seasons, in the NBA, at the highest possible level of competition. What’s interesting is that he’s been successful. IF you listen to the critics, he hasn’t taken a jumper and he’s a failure because his team didn’t win the title. In reality, Simmons has learned how to run the team, be a true point guard in the league and will finally have some of the leash removed, allowing him to play to his full potential this season.
This has always been about “The Process” and the past two seasons have been no different. You’ve seen Simmons dominate games when needed, but, he’s spent the majority of his time running the offense that coach Brett Brown has implemented. This year, we should see more of Simmons in control of the whole offense and as he unleashes his jump shot, teams will be at his complete mercy.
There will no longer be stretches of him handing off to Embiid after advancing the ball and then becoming a statue on the side. Simmons is a point guard now, a dominant one. With his jumper ready be displayed, he will be virtually unstoppable. This could be a year that Simmons is in serious contention for the MVP of the league and could lead his team to the NBA Finals.
Embiid has been nothing short of dominant in the league over the past two seasons, when he’s played. His fitness level hasn’t been where it should have been, especially toward the end of the season. When you see him on the sideline, housing Big Macs prior to games, that’s not a good look for one of the superstars of the team.
Embiid labored in games throughout the year but, he’s apparently lost twenty-five pounds this offseason and has adapted a better fitness and diet plan. That doesn’t seem good for the league, especially for a guy that was so powerful last season.
Embiid should be able to spend much more time on the floor and hopefully in the low post, where he’s unstoppable. With Simmons having full control of the offense, Embiid will benefit from not having to be out of position for rebounds, taking too many outside jumpers and laboring through the pace the Sixers play at. The weight loss will also help his knees and feet withstand the rigors of the 82 game schedule. It would not be surprising to see both Embiid and Simmons in the top ten for MVP at the end of the season.
Harris had limited games with the team last season and may have seemed out of place at times. But, after signing an extension this offseason, Harris is here for the next five years and will be a vital part of the Sixers championship hopes. With Harris left to the starting small forward spot and not having to worry about Butler and his ego, he’ll thrive and the Sixers could realistically have three players average over twenty points per game.
His ability and lack of ego will be huge for him in having to accommodate Simmons and Embiid on the team but, that’s where Harris thrives. He’s part of a team and not a focal point. He can play his game and will be vital with an 85% free throw shooting mark in closing out games. Harris has had breakout years in each of the past three seasons as he’s continued to improve his game, while moving around the league. With a permanent home, this year should be his best yet.
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Born and raised in Fishtown, I write.