Philadelphia 76ers: Previewing a 2019-20 season that is Philly’s to loseby Craig Brallier September 19, 2019 0 comments
After their postseason was abruptly and savagely ended by the late-game heroics of eventual Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, the Philadelphia 76ers are looking to live up to the hype that the organization has been building up for the last three years.
With Leonard out of Toronto and the Eastern Conference, there’s no doubt that the Sixers have the most healthy available talent out of any team in the East. Is this the year that “The Process” can finally be completed?
The fit of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid has definitely been questionable in each of their first two seasons playing together; there’s no argument against that. With the way they each play the game, it’s just not the perfect marriage. When Embiid is doing work in the low post, Simmons is often standing off in the dunker spot, waiting for an offensive rebound. That said, when you have two great players and a once-in-a-generation talent like Simmons, you want to try and make it work. And with Simmons’ new five-year, $170 million contract on the books, there’s even more added pressure in Philly.
Simmons has been great since debuting for the Sixers in the ’17-’18 season in which he won Rookie of the Year. Missing just four games in his first two seasons, Simmons has been a consistent floor general for the team, averaging just over 16 points, eight rebounds and nearly eight assists across those two years. The only question in his game has been shooting the long ball, in which he’s only taken one legitimate attempt in his career. Reports say that his jumper has improved, and we’ve even gotten to see some workout footage, but who’s to say how many of those shots he’s missing that we don’t get to see? There is no doubt that with him signing that max extension, he will be under the microscope more than ever this year. Even though he’s a top 25 player and an All-Star, analysts know he could be the best player in the league if his shot develops.
With Embiid, it’s all about being health and knocking down shots. In his NBA career, he has never played more than 64 games, and not to mention he missed his first two years due to injury. If they can get to a point where he can play 70 games, that would be a win for Philly.
Embiid’s shooting needs to improve, because he insists on shooting threes. Averaging just 30 percent from deep last year, he’ll either need to be more picky about the shots he’s shooting, or just continue to improve upon his current progress. Like Simmons, the three-point shot is the only thing keeping him from being the perfect player.
The Sixers also brought back Tobias Harris, who was nearly an All-Star in the Western Conference last season while with the Clippers. He had a little trouble fitting in with the offense, but general manager Elton Brand gave him a max deal to return, so it’s a safe bet that they feel like he’ll be able to mesh with a little more time.
Two other key additions to the roster are Josh Richardson and multi-time All-Star Al Horford. With those two, Harris, Simmons, and Embiid, the Sixers’ starting lineup will not feature a player shorter than 6-foot-7. And with Richardson and Horford’s defensive prowess, they’ll likely be one of the toughest teams to get a bucket against.
With new Nets star Kevin Durant out with an Achilles injury and Leonard back off to the West, the window is wide open for Philly to make it to the Finals. Even if Simmons isn’t shooting threes, there is still a case to be made that come June, the 76ers could have confetti raining down on them, and this season is basically their’s to lose.