The Philadelphia 76ers are currently 39-30, which has them sitting 6th place in the Eastern Conference. Because they have won seven of their last 10, this is a perfect time to check in on them.
The Philadelphia 76ers displayed a poor performance during the 2016-17 season, but this season is different. This team has already won more games this season than they were able to all of last season. What has changed for the 76ers? Well, that answer is simple. They have more talent than they did last year, and they are using it flawlessly. The two players who stand out are Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, but there are other players playing major roles in this teams success.
So let’s take a closer look at the 76ers. To examine how well they are playing, let’s break down who is playing well, how well Simmons and Embiid are actually doing, and of course, what can Philly expect for the future as the season comes to an end.
Who else besides Simmons and Embiid are playing well?
All of the focus for the Philadelphia 76ers’ success this season has been on Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. But basketball is a 5-on-5 sport, so there have to be others who are stepping up. And there are a few who stand out more than others.
Over the summer, the 76ers were able to land J.J Reddick after he left the Los Angeles Clippers. He inked a one-year $23 million dollar deal during free agency.
Since joining the team, Reddick has been crucial to the team’s prosperity. He is the second leading scorer on the squad with 16.7 points per game and is also grabbing 2.6 rebounds and dishing out 3.0 assists. This is arguably his best season in the NBA since getting drafted in 2006.
With Reddick’s presence, this spreads the floor tremendously for the other players. Players like Robert Covington have been able to blossom from behind the arc. Covington is averaging 12.6 points per game and has increased his three-point percentage by 4.1% compared to last year thanks to the spacing created by Reddick.
With Reddick and Covington being such a threat from deep, teams have to be wary of them when preparing their defensive strategies. They both spread the floor, and that opens up the chance for more assists for the team. They are currently sitting second in the league in assist percentage with 65.2 percent of their baskets being assisted. And they are able to capitalize on their open opportunities as they sit eighth in the NBA in effective field goal percentage at 53 percent. Combine those two stats, and you have an effective offense. Covington and Reddick can be thanked for that.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are leading the charge.
The two players who are leading the Philadelphia 76ers this year are none other than Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Both former top five picks, these two have molded themselves into probable superstars for the future.
Let’s start with Joel “The Process” Embiid for this one. This is the first season that we have seen Embiid come alive and play in the majority of Philadephia 76ers games. He was only able to compete in 31 contests last season as he fought with a left knee injury that would require surgery and keep him out.
This season is a different story, as he has played 58 games and has made them count by doing enough to make his first All-Star appearance. So far, Embiid is averaging 23.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. All while having a usage percentage of 34.1 percent, which is the second highest number in the NBA. The offense runs through Jojo.
Because of how well he is playing, his player impact estimate is 17.6, which is 6th in the league. What is even more impressive is that he is only in his second season. He has been able to make his presence known early in his career and at this rate, he will be a superstar in no time; especially with performances like the one below:
His partner in crime, Ben Simmons, is also having himself a great year. Drafted in 2016 as the number one pick, he did not play in his first season due to injury. Technically this is his rookie season and he is already making a name for himself.
Simmons is averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He is currently leading all rookies in rebounds, assists and minutes played as well as placing in the top five for points, steals, field goal percentage, and blocks. He’s impacting all areas of the game as a rookie, and alongside Embiid, he is making things happen. Recently, he showed that impact off against the Hornets, posting a triple-double in which he had 15 assists and zero turnovers:
These two combined are the one-two punch that every team should fear. And when you add the other tools mentioned above, it’s clear why this team is both young and really, really good.
What does the Philadelphia 76ers have to look forward to?
This team is very young, the average age on the team is only 24.7. That means they are only going to continue to get better, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t get some more help.
The playoffs are approaching, and the 76ers should get in easily. As far as winning it all, that is a little more unlikely. They are going to have to beat some of the NBA’s best teams and it just doesn’t feel like it is their time just yet.
During the offseason, they are reportedly going to make a push to land superstar LeBron James. James is going to this free agency period with an open mind and says that he will listen to any team that wants to make him an offer. That includes the 76ers and they are already making their presence known.
If there is any chance that James could join the Philadephia 76ers this offseason, then they could become one of the best teams in the NBA. But, if they aren’t able to land him, they will still be okay. They are still waiting for their latest number one pick, Markell Fultz, to play. When he comes back, it is hard telling how far this team could go. They are solid already. The inclusion of Fultz, or James, may take this team to the top. The future is bright in Philly.