Hope, meet expectations. After years of rebuilding that many considered extreme even by professional sports standards, the Philadelphia 76ers are finally on the precipice of going from rebuilding to just building. The Sixers have the chance this season to fight for a playoff spot, and after five seasons without a postseason appearance, fans in Philly are ready for the process to pay off.
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Traded up for the No. 1 pick in the Draft, selected Markelle Fultz ... Signed veteran free-agent guard JJ Redick to a one-year deal ... Added veteran bigs Kris Humphries, Amir Johnson and Emeka Okafor to add depth and experience ...
1. If the Sixers were consistent about one thing the last few seasons, it's been roster inconsistency due to injuries. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are being counted on to be franchise cornerstones, but they combined to play in just 31 games last season.
2. Coach Brett Brown has had the Sixers ready to compete the last few years, although they've often been overmatched. Last season the Sixers finished the season with a 100.7 offensive rating, which was last in the NBA. Defensively they finished in the middle of the pack, but they need to make strides on the offensive end.
3. At some point, these Sixers need to move forward. They tore things down, collected assets, started turning those assets into able bodies, but the last step may be the hardest: winning games.
MAN ON THE SPOT
Two years after he was drafted,Embiid made his long-awaited NBA debut last season on opening night as the Sixers hosted Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. While Westbrook went on to win Kia MVP, Embiid didn't disappoint, showing flashes of brilliance. The issue has been sustainability: While the jovial seven-footer averaged 20.2 points per game, injuries limited Embiid to just 31 games last season, and that's after missing his first two entire seasons recovering from injuries. Can Embiid stay healthy long enough to make a sustained impact? Stay tuned.
Markelle Fultz | 23.2 ppg | 5.7 rpg | 5.9 apg (at University of Washington)
The No. 1 overall pick in 2017 has elite athleticism, and should make an instant impact.
J.J. Redick | 15.0 ppg | 2.2 rpg | 1.4 apg
Should provide perimeter scoring for a team that has struggled on offense.
Ben Simmons | 19.2 ppg |11.8 rpg | 4.8 apg (at LSU)
The big man will likely shine in a point forward role for Philly.
Dario Saric | 12.8 ppg | 6.3 rpg | 2.2 apg
Saric's development, particularly late in the season, suggests a promising long-term future.
Joel Embiid | 20.2 ppg | 7.8 rpg | 2.1 apg
Embiid can do it all, as long as he can stay on the court.
Robert Covington | 12.9 ppg | 6.5 rpg | 1.5 apg
Has developed into an elite defender, with multiple skills.
Justin Anderson | 8.5 ppg | 2.8 rpg | 1.4 apg
Anderson has found a rotation spot in Philly, providing frontcourt depth.
Jahlil Okafor | 11.8 ppg | 4.8 rpg | 1.2 apg
The big man can score inside, but hasn't made a consistent impact.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Sixers (and their rabid fans) have trusted the process, but now the waiting is over and it's time for results. The Eastern Conference may be weaker than it was a season ago, but it presents a rather compelling opportunity for the Sixers to make a postseason push.
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