The 76ers are one of the more exciting teams in the league led by Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. This team burst onto the scene last season and established themselves as a force in the Eastern Conference for years to come. They started sluggish last year, but went on a 17-game winning streak that included the playoffs where they sometimes looked like they might make the Finals. That didn’t happen, but this team really did something last year and many people think they will improve on that season. They finished last year with 52 wins and have a total set at 54.5 for the upcoming season.
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Personally? I don’t see it. For one, they needed a 17-game win streak to end the season to finish with that record. Second, I am not sure this team will have that same level of shooting. Last year’s squad was able to get Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova on buyout deals which really opened up their floor for them. Those guys are gone, essentially replaced by Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler. Solid players, but I think I’d rather have the first two.
This team also seems to be building toward the year after next year more than this year. I say that because Markelle Fultz is going to start for this team. To me, that means growing pains. Last season, Simmons and Embiid really gelled as a unit but now they will have to figure out a new way to do things with Fultz in the mix. Unlike some others, I believe Fultz is a future star but it will take time. He’s essentially a rookie point guard and they aren’t known for making contributions right away.
That move sends JJ Redick to the bench and changes the ecosystem of this team. For the long term better, but I’m not so sure about the short term.
That said, Embiid and Simmons may both be top-10 players in the league. If Embiid stays healthy, he’s a solid dark horse 2019 MVP candidate. A lot of people are thinking Giannis Antetokounmpo (myself included), but if this team comes close to this win total then Embiid might be the guy.
However, I think people are taking Embiid’s good health for granted. It’s no guarantee. Once he got the go last year, he was great. He played in 63 regular season games last year which was a career high. We’ve yet to see him over 82 games and a lot of people are just assuming that he will. I’m not sure I’m ready to make that commitment.
I really like this team and think they might be one of the best in the East, but I’m not sure I see them at a 55+ win level. There are injury questions, there are depth questions and Fultz starting throws a big wrench into the whole thing.
I’m taking the under on this one as I see them as a 52-54 win team. I won’t be surprised if I’m wrong, but I just don’t feel comfortable going for it here.
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