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With a lineup that could include Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s Draft, is it crazy to think the Sixers will be in the playoffs next spring?
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Steve Aschburner: Just the other day, with the news of Markelle Fultz’s likely landing in Philadelphia, I started thinking about the closest the NBA ever has come to a “Fab Five.” Well, these guys might be it if they send out a starting lineup of Fultz, Simmons, Embiid, Saric and, say, Jahlil Okafor. They would have 214 games of experience, combined (147 starts) on Opening Night. But that’s still not going to snag a playoff berth next spring. The idea isn’t quite crazy, but there is too much to learn, and too many teams to climb over. Plus, let’s see them stay healthy first for most or all of 82 games.
Fran Blinebury: It is very, very, very premature and representative of our jump-to-quick-conclusions culture. Simmons and the No. 1 pick will be getting their first taste of the NBA. Saric and Embiid have a combined 112 games of NBA experience under their belts. Embiid hasn’t yet proven that he can stay healthy. Yes, the future looks bright in Philly, but the future is still out there. The playoffs next season should be a wild dream, not an expectation.
Scott Howard-Cooper: It’s not crazy. But it is overly optimistic. While the 76ers are obviously headed in a very good direction, they remain unproven on many different levels. How will a new lineup play together? Can Embiid stay healthy? Will Simmons and Markelle Fultz have normal rookie growing pains and struggle for stretches, and maybe even long stretches? Let’s see how the rest of the offseason plays out, for Philly and others in the East, before getting too deep into playoff talk.
Shaun Powell: It is somewhat crazy, even in the watered down East, because of so many unknowns: Will Embiid and Simmons stay healthy? Will Saric take another leap forward? Will the No. 1 pick require plenty of time, as most do? The final playoff spot in the East last season was grabbed by a team that went 41-41, so the Sixers don't need to be gangbusters. But for them, it's still a best-case scenario.
John Schuhmann: If both Chicago and Indiana trade their best players, at least two playoff spots will open up in the East. The Sixers will have a talented young core that should help them move up in offensive efficiency after ranking 30th on that end for the last four seasons. But they'll likely continue to play it safe with the minutes of the guys who have been hurt (Embiid and Simmons), inexperience will obviously be a factor and, four years into his tenure, we still don't know if Brett Brown is a good coach. A playoff run is possible, but my guess is that Philly fans will have to wait another year, unless GM Bryan Colangelo adds a free agent or two (or makes a trade) that can move the needle.
Sekou Smith: If we're playing future fantasy basketball, it's not at all crazy to project that Sixers group as a playoff team. Unfortunately for them, we're dealing in the real world. And they are no closer to the playoffs right now than they were this time a year ago, or two years ago. We have no idea what Ben Simmons can do on this level. Joel Embiid is a keeper for sure, but he has to overcome his health issues. And if Markelle Fultz is as good as advertised, and ends up being the No. 1 pick, there is plenty of reason for optimism. But absolutely no reason to believe this all comes together in their first year together. Even if you have 100 percent trust in "The Process", you have to know it won't happen overnight.
Ian Thomsen:Do the Sixers have the makings of a playoff team? Absolutely. Will they realize that goal next year? They won’t, and it isn’t fair to suggest they will. Their core of Embiid, Simmons and likely No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz has 31 games of NBA experience. Let’s give them a year, at least, to get healthy and up to speed with the NBA game and used to playing with one another. To say that they should make the playoffs – and that anything less is going to be a failure – is just wrong. The Timberwolves missed the playoffs last year, and they’re much further along than Philadelphia.
Lang Whitaker: Yes. Last season they fielded a lineup that included all of those assets minus the Draft pick and had the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference. Simmons and Embiid may be a dynamic duo eventually, but they combined to play in 31 games last season (all by Embiid). After taking so long to get to this point, now isn't the time to run out of patience. Sixers fans are understandably excited by the trade for the No. 1 pick, but to me the process isn't over, it's still just beginning.