The Philadelphia 76ers have surpassed last season’s win total with a 98-97 victory over the New York Knicks. T.J. McConnell‘s buzzer beater capped off a terrific comeback by the Sixers.
Philadelphia 76ers Surpass Last Season’s Win Total
Despite a poor shooting performance from Joel Embiid, he still posted 21 points and a rookie-high 14 rebounds. After the Kristaps Porzingis airball, a frantic push to the other end saw head coach Brett Brown not use their final timeout. Instead, McConnell sunk a baseline fading jump shot that sent the arena into utopia.
What This Means for the Future
Things are looking up with Ben Simmons set to return soon, as well as the team learning how to win games down the stretch. The team’s end-of-game struggles have been well-documented, but this young squad is finally starting to gel together and win games. Make no mistake – this does gloss over the many improvements the team has yet to make.
For starters, the crowded frontcourt is still an issue. There are just not enough minutes to go around for all of these players. With Nerlens Noel‘s contract set to expire in the summer, a trade needs to be made. This is because he has much more trade value than Jahlil Okafor, or any of Philly’s other frontcourt players, for that matter. It is important that this trade does not yield more big men, but rather some much needed guard play – a gaping weakness on this roster.
Next, after finalizing a trade to send a big man for either a guard, draft pick, or other asset, it will finally be time to give head coach Brett Brown reasonable judgement. There will be no more excuses of lack of talent once Simmons returns to play alongside Embiid, an All-Star candidate. There will be no excuses of a lopsided roster rotation after a trade is finally made. The world will get its first glimpse at what Brown can do with a viable NBA roster. There must not be any more end-of-game collapses that fans have gotten used to – no more embarrassment.
Time to Put the Pieces Together
While the jury is still out on Brett Brown, all fans are crazy in love with Joel “The Process” Embiid. They love him so much so that he is currently the leader in All-Star votes among all Eastern Conference centers. As of January 5th, the center with the second-most votes was Hassan Whiteside, who was a whopping 149,356 votes behind Embiid.
Sixers fans are also raring to watch Simmons in action, as they can’t wait to see him paired up with Embiid. Simmons would most certainly lessen Embiid’s workload, as the Aussie is a ball dominant point forward who will get open looks for Philadelphia’s three-point shooters. Nik Stauskas, Ersan Ilyasova, Robert Covington and company will be extremely excited to play with Simmons, once he gets back to full health.
Because Brett Brown has publicly said that Simmons will be playing the point, a ‘three and D’ guard who can play off the ball would be ideal to get in a trade that involves Noel. While Avery Bradley is the model prototype who can play off of Simmons and Embiid while providing defensive cover, someone like Patrick Beverley is a more realistic target in a potential Noel trade.
Once Bryan Colangelo and the front office get all the right pieces together, this team will not only be in contention for the playoffs, but they’ll be coming to knock LeBron James off of his throne.