Trust the Process.
Yes, that’s the catchy phrase that former Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie attached to his rebuilding plan, and it’s also the phrase that rising 76ers center Joel Embiid tweets every so often. Whereas it was once used to justify the team’s losing, the phrase is now used to urge fans that this 2017-18 team will make the playoffs.
Philadelphia 76ers Playoff Outlook for This Season
It’s a Different Era of Sixers Basketball
The 1982-1983 season was the last time this franchise lifted a championship banner in Philly. That team was led by stars Julius Erving and Moses Malone. This two-headed monster swept the Showtime Lakers represented by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
In today’s era, they have been on a dark path of rebuilding for the past five years. Embiid, who was second in the running for this year’s NBA Rookie of the Year, hopes to stay healthy. His candidacy was really halted after an unfortunate bone bruise injury that occurred 31 games into the season. Embiid was off to a phenomenal season averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. His ability to score in the paint influenced the rest of the team, sparking drive in his team to compete hard every game.
One standout that was also in the running for Rookie of the Year was Croatian forward Dario Saric. He averaged 12.8 points, 2.2 assists, and 6.3 rebounds. His specialty comes in his efficient mid-range game that he shot over 40% with. He has yet to gain the confidence to shoot three-point shots, as it is different from international standards. There is an extension of about a foot and a half between the NBA and international courts.
This team was able to keep up with the Cavaliers twice, losing both games by a combined five points. They were also able to beat playoff teams such as the Wizards, Clippers, and Celtics. The team only needed to supplement their roster with a secondary scorer that could lessen the load off Embiid. It was problematic when opposing defenses double-teamed him towards the end of games.
With free agency and the draft, GM Bryan Colangelo has sought to fix the issues that arose with the 76ers last season.
Free Agent Signings
During the past two seasons, the NBA saw more up-tempo styles and reliance on three-point shooting from teams. The 76ers, who ranked 23rd in three-point percentage, looked to address this need. They signed free agent J.J. Redick to a 1-year $23 million contract which should help spread the floor for big man Joel Embiid. Last season, Redick’s three-point shooting was ranked in the top five among shooting guards and was a huge staple for the Clippers during the playoffs. He shot 42.5% and averaged 15 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. An even greater aspect to his three-point specialty is his ability to move without the ball and roll off screens. For a young team, Redick will provide the leadership and veteran experience that will help mold the team together.
Another off-season signing came with former Celtics forward Amir Johnson. A 12-year veteran, Johnson signed with the 76ers on a one-year worth $11 million. Despite holding a career 57.4% field-goal percentage and starting in over 461 games, Johnson will most likely either be a key role player or a starter that plays 20-22 minutes per game. He only holds career averages of 7.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. However, his value comes in the form of experience and leadership. He will be the type of player to create impact not only on the court but in the communities of Philadelphia and be a positive role model for the rest of the team.
2017 NBA Draft
Originally having the third pick, the 76ers felt that they needed an impact player for the Wells Fargo Center. This led to a trade between the Celtics and 76ers, which saw the Sixers get the first pick in the draft in exchange for the third pick and another future first rounder. If the Lakers first round pick next year falls between 2-5, then Boston gets it. If not, then the Celtics get the better pick out of Philadelphia and Sacramento’s first rounders in 2019.
The first overall selection was used on point guard Markelle Fultz, who averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists in his lone season at Washington. His blend of athleticism and versatile skills make for a star ceiling and floor general that the 76ers could use instantly. He will either be slotted into the point guard or shooting guard position, which he will likely thrive in. Fultz will be a selfless individual who will still look to set up his teammates as well as create his own shots, which should be a dynamic skillset in the upcoming season.
The East is shaping into a red velvet cake with the departures of two superstars to the West. There is now a decent chance that the 76ers can slide into the eighth seed.
However, despite the abundance of talent cultivating in Philly with the debut of 2016 draft pick Ben Simmons and a healthy Embiid, it still takes time to shape out as a team. This will all be dependent on coach Brett Brown, who will be responsible of making all these pieces work cohesively.
With a projected lineup of Simmons, Fultz, Robert Covington, Saric, and Embiid, this could be a promising season for a team that went 28-54. They would have respectable depth with Redick as their sixth man, followed by center Jahlil Okafor and Johnson. If these pieces are able to find a groove together, I predict the Sixers will make the 8th seed. They could have a record of 41-41, which would be just enough to make the playoffs and most likely match themselves up with the reigning Eastern Conference champions: the Cleveland Cavaliers.