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Can the Sixers Climb the Mountain?

   Can the Sixers Climb the Mountain?

July 24, 2019

joel embiid

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 – click here, 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.

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