Way Too Early Philadelphia 76ers Season Predictions Staff Writer: Corey Darko

 

The Sixers have a lot of hype going into this season and for a good reason. They have the most intriguing young core in the NBA with Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. Will these Sixers live up to the hype and lay to expectations or will they end up like las year’s Timberwolves: a young team not ready for prime time? Let’s break down the strengths and weaknesses of this team.

Strengths: They have the best young team in the NBA. WHS Junior Hunter Leonard stated, “They might have the best young core we’ve seen since the 2010 Oklahoma City Thunder.” Fultz and Simmons have yet to play an NBA game and Embiid only played 31 games. However, Embiid was

 

Caption Philadelphia 76ers logo

 

 

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons. Gathered by Elena Waldroop.

 

special in those 31 games and Fultz was the head and shoulders the best prospect in his class and one of the best point guard and overall prospects of the last decade. Ben Simmons is also one of the best prospects of the last decade, and similar to Fultz, Simmons has a special skill set.

Having three players with superstar potential surrounded with a lot of young intriguing talent in Dario Saric, Timothe Luwawhu Cabbarot, TJ McConnell, Justin Anderson, Jahlil Okafor and Richian Holmes gives them the best young team in the NBA.

Caption: Markelle Fultz

 

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons Elena Waldrop

 

 

Weakness: Inexperience. Like every young team, there will be growing pains. WHS Junior Dylan Burkhalter stated, “While they have a nice collection of young talent young teams don’t usually win right away in the NBA.” The Sixers are relying on a 19- and 21-year-old to be the primary ball handlers for your team. That will result in a lot of turnovers and mistakes.

Despite Simmons, Fultz and Embiid being promising, they’ve combined for a total of 31 games, as a result growing pains should be expected. It also doesn’t help that they are the third youngest team in the NBA.

Strength: Veteran Leadership. The Sixers did a great Job addressing the need for veteran leadership this offseason by signing J.J Reddick and Amir Johnson. Both of these players have plenty of playoff experience and will be able to teach the young players how to be successful at the NBA level and to stay hungry.

It also helps that Reddick and Johnson will be able to contribute as Reddick average 15 points per game last year and will provide the sixers with much needed shooting as he shot 42 percent from 3 last year, while Johnson will provide much needed toughness to this young team.

Weakness: Health. This will be the biggest concern with this team. Over the past years their high draft picks just haven’t demonstrated they can stay healthy as Joel Embiid has played 31 games in three years and Simmons missed his whole rookie season with a foot injury. To a lesser extent, it’s also concerning Fultz got an ankle sprain in the summer league and missed six games in college (while it’s highly possible he missed games to avoid injuries toward the NBA draft).

This team has playoff aspirations but injuries can doom this team short term and long term if their stars don’t stay healthy. They could very well end up as the 2007-11 Portland Trailblazers, who had a promising young core in  LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, and  Greg Oden, but Roy and Oden failed to stay healthy.

Strength: Defense. When Joel Embiid was healthy, the sixers had one of the best defenses in the league with Embiid protecting the paint and Robert Covington hounding the perimeter. While Fultz and Simmons were known to take plays off defensively in college, when engaged they have the athleticism and tools to be All-NBA level defenders.

Best case-scenario if Embiid and Covington maintain their All NBA-Level defense and    Fultz and Simmons try more mixed with good defenders off the bench like T.J McConnell, Richaun Holmes, Justin Anderson and Timonthe Luwawhu Cabrarrot, the Sixers have a lot of length and athleticism defensively.

Caption: Ben Simmons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons Elena Waldrop

 

Best case-scenario: If Simmons and Fultz preform as good as expected and Embiid stays healthy, Covington improves from 3-point range and their bench is as good as it looks on paper, the Sixers will have a 2010 Thunder type breakout by winning 50 games and winning a first round series.

Worst case-scenario: If for the second straight year, their highly talented young players get injured don’t play much this year and embiid simply struggles to stay healthy and Fultz and Simmons struggle mightily as rookies, this team could be looking at another Top-5 pick in next year’s draft. This team is the biggest boom-or-bust team in the NBA next season.

Record Prediction: Sixers fans trusting the process will pay off. If healthy, this Sixers team will shock the NBA and win more games than projected. Despite predicting playoffs and 43 wins for this team, I easily think they can win more games if healthy. I realize a young team and could end up like last year’s Timberwolves but Minnesota lacked the depth Philly has and the luxury of playing in a pathetic eastern conference.

Having the best young core mixed with vets and a lot of young talent around Markelle Fultz,  Jeol Embiid and   Ben Simmons, I believe the Sixers   will make a 22-win jump and win 50 games similar to the Thunder in 2010 jumping from 23 to 50 wins. It takes an insane amount of young talent to pull this off but the Sixers definitely have enough and then some. Trust the Process Philly fans.

 

Caption: Joel Embiid

Photo courtesy of creative commons Elena Waldrop

Prediction: 50-32

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