Sixers fans, don’t panic, not yet

Sixers, Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) watches from the bench as the 76ers fall behind the Boston Celtics during the second half of Game 7 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, Sunday, May 14, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

With everything going on for the Philadelphia 76ers, it is easy for fans to come into this season with a pessimistic stance. James Harden has demanded a trade, Daryl Morey has yet to trade him, and the Sixers didn’t make any splashy moves. Sixers fans can be forgiven for drifting into a rather gloomy disposition. However, while this may not have been the best offseason, the Sixers are still in a better position than most teams in the league.

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid (21) celebrates with De’Anthony Melton (8) after the team’s win over the Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, April 20, 2023, in New York. The 76ers won 102-97. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

For starters, the Sixers are returning many contributors from last year’s team. De’Anthony Melton, one of the best defensive guards in the league, is returning for his second year in Philadelphia in an even bigger role. Tobias Harris is returning on the final year of his massive contract, and no matter your opinion on the forward, he is worth significantly more than a Crumbl Cookie. They also were able to obtain the services of an excellent coach in Nick Nurse, who won a championship with the Raptors in 2019.

Paul Reed, who was an extremely valuable piece for the Sixers in both the regular season and the Playoffs, is also returning on a three-year deal after posting career highs in nearly every statistical category. Young guys like Jaden Springer, Filip Petrusev, and Terquavion Smith provide an unknown element of excitement for the Sixers. And, oh yeah, the Sixers also still have two things that every team is begging for; a superstar player and a budding young star. 

Last season, Joel Embiid averaged 33.1 points per game on a career-high 54.8% shooting percentage. He dominated in nearly every aspect of the game. He scored 30+ points 44 times last season. He scored 40+ points in 13 games last season. There isn’t a center in the league with that level of scoring ability. He finished the season capturing the MVP with a final stat line of 33.1 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game, and 4.2 assists per game. He shot a career-high of 54.8% from the field and 33.0 from three.

Budding star and future All-Star Tyrese Maxey is nearly as important as Embiid. He continued to show his improvement, going from 17.5 points per game the previous season to 20.3 last year. Maxey also shot 48.1% from the field and 43.4% from beyond the arc. Despite James Harden taking up a large role in the offense, Maxey still posted a career-high usage percentage as well at 24.1%. Maxey’s commitment to improvement (see his three-point percentage increase from the 20-21 season to his percentage from the 21-22 season) will lead Maxey to become even better this season in an even greater role.

There is a lot to be unsure of with the Sixers in the upcoming season, but that doesn’t mean that Philadelphia won’t be a good team this year. Eventually, the Harden trade will go through, and whatever the return is for the disgruntled All-Star guard, Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey will prove that they can lead a team together to an excellent seed in the Eastern Conference and can even keep the Philadelphia 76ers in contention for the foreseeable future.