By: Daniel Yelovich
Drama always ensues after countless disappointing seasons in Philadelphia. This season, they are off to a rough 0-7 start after losing #1 draft pick Ben Simmons to a foot injury ending his season. The Sixers have 4 reliable players all in the front court with unlimited potential:
Joel Embiid has played tremendously at the beginning of this season averaging 17.6 PPG and grabbing around 7 rebounds a game. You couldn’t ask for a better start from a guy who missed his entire rookie season to a foot injury (Sounds familiar).
Nerlens Noel is currently out for the year with an ACL injury. He has a high trade value on the market as a young, athletic center. There are several rumors he could be traded soon for multiple assets that could improve the Sixers in the near future. Noel averaged 11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 1.5 BPG last year validating his lottery pick talent level.
Dario Saric, the 12th pick in the 2014 draft from Croatia, could be the biggest surprise of the team in the next few years. He is averaging 11.1 PPG and 6.2 RPG in his last 5 games becoming more comfortable with the NBA style of play. At 6-10, he is a solid rebounder and passer with stretch-four potential. He won MVP at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament this past year, and announced he was joining the Sixers shorty after.
Jahlil Okafor probably has the most natural, smooth game out of all of the young Sixers players.
Coming off of a state championship in Illinois with Whitney Young, and a national championship with Duke, Okafor has a knack for winning. There was little doubt in my mind he was going to be a bust after posting 16.9 PPG and 6.7 RPG in his rookie season. Okafor has a chance to become one of the best big men in the league after proving he can score and rebound against anyone.
The problem has always been the backcourt in the post-Iverson era. Jrue Holiday was selected 17th in the 2009 draft, but took him a few years to become a reliable point guard. They struggled to win in his rookie year, but had high hopes heading into next year with the 2nd pick in the draft. The 2010 draft was filled with both superstars and busts. The 76ers took Evan Turner, a promising shooting guard from Ohio State. Shooting woes and inability to play defense limited Turner’s progression throughout his short career in Philadelphia.
After drafting Michael Carter-Williams and winning Rookie of the Year in 2013, the Sixers thought they found their franchise player. Next season, Carter-Williams came in at a major disadvantage after requiring shoulder surgery and missing Summer League. He made his season debut in November off the bench and played well (19 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists), but inconsistency shooting and a high Assist/Turnover ratio ultimately kept Carter-Williams from receiving a contract. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks the next season for draft picks.
With the talent level in the frontcourt, the last piece they need is a superstar guard. The Sixers made multiple mistakes in drafting guards that were below average shooters. If they can draft high-producing offensive minded guards like Curry, Lillard, or Harden, they will have a very good chance to succeed in the upcoming years.
This is why ONE more tanking season could lead to one of the most exciting teams in the NBA.