The Philadelphia Sixers spent the last half of the current decade
stockpiling potential great NBA talent. There were a few busts along
the way, see Jahlil Okafor (2015) and Markele Fultz (2017). There has
also been some stunning successes with the drafting of Joel Embiid in
2014 and Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons in 2017.
The core of this team will be entering its 3rd season together. The
results from the two seasons have been inspiring with the Sixers
finishing 52-30 in 2017-18 and 51-31 in 2018-19, losing in the
Conference-Semifinals on both occasions. After putting together two
solid back-to-back season, Sixers fans and sports bettor in the Philly
area have to be wondering if maybe 2019-20 is the year the team makes
it back to the NBA finals for a shot at winning the team’s first NBA
title in 27 years.
A quick peek at the current roster is enough to
light up even the most pessimistic fan. The starting five could well be
the best starting five in the NBA. While depth could end up being a bit
of a problem as the season drags on, there’s still talent in the 2nd
five. In the future book, which is available through most online sports
betting sites, the Sixers are
sitting at around 8-1. That’s second best in the Eastern Conference
behind the Milwaukee Bucks (5-1) with next best Eastern Conference
Boston Celtics sitting well down at 25-1. Clearly, the experts see the
Conference as a two-team race.
Key losses from last year’s team include SF Jimmy Butler and SG J.J.
Redick. Of the two, the Sixers will likely miss the services of Redick
the most. The team already garnered a suitable replacement for Butler
in Tobias Harris who came over from the Los Angeles Clippers just after
last year’s All-Star break. He is a fine scorer who will have no
problem absorbing Butler’s minutes and points. Replacing Redick is near
impossible given his proficiency from beyond the 3-pt arc. With the
signing of PF Al Horford during the offseason, Embiid might be able to
step outside the arc, where he seems comfortable, more often. The
addition of SG Josh Richardson, who came over from the Miami Heat, is
certainly a plus move as far as outside shooting.
When all is said and done, the responsibility for
team leadership has to fall on the shoulders of PG Ben Simmons. At
6’10” and 230 lbs., Simmons holds a huge size advantage over every
other PG in the NBA. His agility and passion for the game are
unquestionable. However, a look under the hood indicates there’s a
couple of minor reasons for concern. First, he tends to play out of
control. He also has the tendency to do it at the most inopportune
times. At his size, it’s unnecessary.
The other issue is there wasn’t much progress made in his skill set
between his first two seasons. His numbers are good, but he needs to
work on his free-throw shooting (60%) to avoid being a liability late
in games. He also needs to show the ability to stay out of foul
trouble. If he can improve just a little in these two areas and cut
down on turnovers, the Mountain the Sixers need to climb for the
Championship might be nothing more than a hill.