2017-18 Record: 52-30, 3rd in the Eastern Conference
What a year it was for the Philadelphia 76ers last season. They took that next step as a true contender in the East probably a full year before everyone expected them to. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons led the team to a 3rd place finish in the Eastern Conference and gained some valuable playoff experience.
With no LeBron in the Eastern Conference and Cleveland set to take a slide down the standings, the 76ers should once again be a top four team in the East. The question surrounding their roster will be whether or not they have what it takes to get the job done in the playoffs. They were thoroughly outplayed by the Celtics in the conference semi finals last season but another preseason into the legs of Ben Simmons and co. should have them right back in the mis.
The 76ers waived goodbye to 2017-18 mid-season recruits Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova in the off-season and brought in Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala through trades. Chandler should be a massive upgrade on Belinelli this season and fits perfectly into the game style they want to play. Both players just add extra height and length to what was already one of the biggest teams in the league.
With the addition of Chandler, the 76ers could boast a line-up full of players who are at least 6’8, which is scary given the way that PG Ben Simmons runs the fast break and sees the floor.
Offseason Arrivals: Wilson Chandler (Nuggets), Mike Muscala (Hawks), Zhaire Smith, Landry Shamet, Shake Milton, Jonah Bolden (draft)
Offseason Departures: Justin Anderson (Hawks), Marco Belinelli (Spurs), Richaun Holmes (Suns), Ersan Ilyasova (Bucks), Timothe Luwawu (Thunder)
What to Expect?
2017-18 was the first time since 2012 that the 76ers had won more games than they lost. They’ll look to build on that this season and push to go one step further and make the conference finals. They still have an extremely young core, led by Simmons, Embiid and Robert Covington but have the potential to make a splash in the playoffs. Their main focus this season will be to either knock off Boston or Toronto in the playoffs, if they can do that, they’ll know that they are true contenders in the East moving forward.
Last pre-season’s number one draft pick Markelle Fultz will be an interesting prospect in 2018-19. The rookie played some valuable games towards the end of next season and he could end up being the wildcard for the 76ers this season. If he has indeed added a reliable jump shot as the reports are suggesting, then he could be that missing instant offence piece off the 76ers bench that they really lacked last year.
Chandler should be a great addition for the 76ers. He is in the final year of his contract at at 31 years of age, he’ll be giving it his all in 2018-19 in a hope to secure one last multi year deal. Back him in to be much better than he was in his last few years at Denver when he was arguably just going through the motions.
The 76ers are in one of the most loaded divisions in basketball alongside the Celtics and Raptors, but they have the tools to finish at the top end of the Eastern Conference and we expect them to do so barring another long-term injury to Joel Embiid.
Key Player: Joel Embiid
Embiid is the key to everything for the 76ers. He is their best offensive player and although Robert Covington was first team all defence last season, Embiid is probably their best defensive player as well, which is worrying for 76ers fans given his potential to get injured.
After playing just 31 games in his rookie season, Embiid suited up for 63 games last season, which is about the most you can expect out of the big man, but 63 is more than enough to have an big impact for the 76ers. He averaged over 22 points and 11 rebounds per game last season and was the 19th ranked player in the league in overall player efficiency rating.
Apparently Embiid has been working to improve his three-point range even further. If he can, good luck stopping him. He has unlimited tools on offence and when they give the ball to him as much as they do (33.9 usage % in 17-18 2nd in league) there’s not much the defence can do.
Vegas 2018-19 Win Total
One of the toughest lines to call in the NBA season in our opinion. The Philly line currently sits at 54.5 which means they’ll only need to be three wins better than last season to clear the line. We have them finishing third in the Eastern Conference behind Boston and Toronto, which was good for 52 wins last season.
With Cleveland likely to drop out it’s easy to see Philly clearing this line, however, the potential for injury to Joel Embiid is just too much for us to give any tip with high confidence. Gun to our head we’d have to take the unders for Philly this season.