During the 2016-17 NBA season, headlines will be dominated by Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors on a daily basis. However, having a super-team doesn’t guarantee a championship; just look at the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers. Everything can change and anything can happen in the NBA. A team can implode, the injury bug could strike, or a team simply might not play to its potential. In this Last Word On Pro Basketball series, we’ll break down which two key factors will determine the fate of each team in the upcoming season.
In this edition, we examine the Philadelphia 76ers.
Two Key Factors to a Successful Philadelphia 76ers Season
Ben Simmons Must Play This Season
This year’s No. 1 overall pick, Ben Simmons, is seen to be the future of the 76ers franchise. Simmons has huge potential, and was considered by many to be the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award. But the very talented Simmons recently suffered a fracture in his right foot. This injury could potentially cause Simmons to miss a large portion of the 2016-17 season.
Simmons is extremely valuable to this 76ers team, despite not yet playing a game in the NBA. After being drafted first overall, Simmons arguably became Philadelphia’s best player. That’s quite an achievement for any rookie.
Philadelphia must get Simmons on the court this season. If the 76ers decide to let Simmons sit for the season, then the team could potentially have another Joel Embiid situation on its hands. Simmons’ agent Rich Paul has expressed his desire for Simmons to sit out the year. That’s something that general manager Bryan Colangelo and head coach Brett Brown don’t want to hear.
Simmons is gifted. He stands at 6’10”, with great athleticism and a passing ability that reminds many of LeBron James. The 76ers are lucky to have such a promising player on their lackluster roster. Simmons has an extremely bright future, but the 76ers will need to manage their young star well, if they are to get the most out of what looks to be an exciting future in Philadelphia.
Be Patient With Joel Embiid
In 2014, the 76ers drafted center Joel Embiid No. 3 overall. This was a risky draft pick, as Embiid was injured coming out of college. The 76ers took the risk and have had to deal with the long-winded consequences. But this coming season, Philly’s patience will finally pay off. The athletic Cameroonian is set to take to the court for the first time in his NBA career. This debut is long awaited by all 76ers fans, but don’t expect Embiid to take over the league in his rookie year. Slow and steady wins the race.
Embiid has everything that you would want in a big man. He’s seven feet tall, weighs 250 pounds, and has a ton of potential. The big man has looked good so far this preseason, putting up solid numbers in limited minutes and even having a few highlight plays. Embiid looks ready for the new season, but just like with Simmons, the 76ers must be careful.
So Many Big Men in Philadelphia
The 76ers must ease Embiid into the flow of the regular season. Throwing Embiid into the deep end could risk re-injury. Embiid is one of the more valuable young big men the 76ers have, and there are a lot of them. The Sixers have Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, and Richaun Holmes all competitively fighting for minutes. Head coach Brett Brown will have a few decisions to make, come the end of the preseason.
If the 76ers play Embiid for 20-24 minutes per game for the first half of the season, Embiid should benefit in the long run. This 76ers team has a lot of potential, but Philadelphia will only win by finding the individuals who can be relied upon. The 76ers are set for another year of growth and development. Getting Simmons healthy and easing Embiid into his rookie year will be key to this 76ers team having success in the 2016-17 season.