The rumors about the Sixers making the playoffs started once the 2017 No. 1 pick, Markelle Fultz said, according to ESPN.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “I am serious when I say that. That is not just me talking because I am a player. I really think that we can be a [playoff team].”
Currently, the Philadelphia 76ers are in a five year playoff drought, and they have not won over 30 games the last four seasons. After collecting high lottery picks, the 76ers have now built an amazing young core. Led by a young trio of Fultz, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid, they are determined to make the playoffs in a weakened Eastern Conference. In the summer, other than drafting a needed backcourt player, the 76ers have signed a consistent shooter, and a veteran power forward. Although paying 23 million to JJ Redick, and 11 million to Amir Johnson for one year can be considered overpaying, they have solved their problem for a solid shooting guard who can shoot, and acquired a very experienced player who can easily benefit this team as a mentor for the Sixers’ young big men. With the moves they made, the 76ers now have a balanced team, depth in the bench, and filled with potential in their young players.
It does not seem to crazy to think that 76ers can actually make the playoffs. With the Bulls, Hawks, and Pacers losing or trading their star players, these teams will definitely be looking to rebuild. This leaves some playoff spots open for the 76ers to find a way into the playoffs. However, 9 players on their roster are 25 years or younger, which means the team is not fully developed, and lack NBA experience. Even though Fultz and Simmons have no experience yet in the NBA, Joel Embiid’s short rookie season showed that the 76ers looked like a team that can win games with him on the court, especially due to their strong defense. When Embiid was on the court, they were as if a real playoff team, posting a defensive rating of 99.1. That was only nearly two points behind the Spurs’ leading mark of 100.9. Now, with the assets added in the offseason, they have gotten stronger in about every aspect, possibly making them a threat to Eastern Conference teams.
The only thing that can stop the Philadelphia 76ers from going on a playoff run next season are injuries. Although Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are expected to be fully healthy for training camp in the fall, you cannot guarantee that they will stay healthy due to their history of injuries. Joel Embiid has missed the 2014-15, and 2015-16 seasons, and only played in 31 games last year. He is the Sixers’ main defensive player, and an important part of their offense. In only 25.4 mins, he averaged 20.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, and 2.5 bpg as a rookie. Ben Simmons missed the whole entire 2016-17 due to injury, and Markelle Fultz has been ruled out for the rest of the Las Vegas Summer League after an ankle injury in the first game. If they can all remain healthy in the next few years, this season can be the beginning to something special.