It’s now or never for the Philadelphia 76ers. The process is completed, their stars are locked in for the future, and they’ve put together a deep, well-balanced bench to make a long playoff run this year.
With Al Horford’s addition and Kawhi Leonard’s departure, the Philadelphia 76ers now have one of the strongest teams in the Eastern Conference, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be thinking on a trip to the Finals.
The Sixers haven’t been on that stage since 2001 when they lost 4-1 to the Los Angeles Lakers, so they’ll be looking forward to putting an end to the drought. But how will they lineup to start the year? Let’s break it down:
Bench: Raul Neto, Zhaire Smith, Furkan Korkmaz, Jame Ennis, Matisse Thybulle, Jonah Bolden, Mike Scott
Point Guard: Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons is allegedly trying to expand his range this offseason, but even if he doesn’t, he’s still one of the league’s top-tier playmakers and a guy that can impact many different aspects of the game night in and night out.
Simmons is capable of guarding one through five with his length, he’s a great finisher and a guy that can easily average a triple-double next season. Once (if) he starts knocking down threes, he’s going to be a major problem.
Shooting Guard: Josh Richardson
Losing Jimmy Butler may have been a blessing in disguise for the Sixers. They lost a controversial player that won’t take a back seat and won a versatile guard that can play lockdown defense on and off the ball.
Also, Richardson’s offense is starting to catch up with his defense, as he became more of a volume scorer due to the Heat’s lack of weapons. He can hit the three, shoot off the dribble, create for others, and is great at anticipating passing lanes and blocking shots.
Small Forward: Tobias Harris
Some people may argue the Sixers overpaid for Tobias Harris but, honestly, he has earned every last dime of that shiny new contract, at least for today’s standards. Now, it will be up to him to live up to the money they’re paying him.
Harris is more than capable of being their second-leading scorer. He’s a solid rebounder, a great spot-up shooter, and a guy long enough to play and guard most power forwards — plus, he’s their biggest threat from long distance.
Power Forward: Al Horford
There was only one guy in this league capable of keeping Joel Embiid in check, and that was Al Horford. Now that they’ve signed him, they have arguably the most dynamic frontcourt duo in the league.
Horford can knock down shots, run the offense, rebound, set screens, defend on the perimeter or protect the rim, and that versatility is going to do wonders for Brett Brown’s scheme. Also, he’s a great insurance policy for the injury-prone Joel Embiid.
Center: Joel Embiid
The time for excuses is over. Joel Embiid must be in the conversation for MVP and DPOY this year, as he’s got the skills and mindset, but has struggled to stay healthy throughout a full season.
Embiid has the best post-game in the NBA and the talent to be the most dominant big men we’ve seen in years. He can light up all opposing big men and lock them up on the other end. The process is completed, and now it is his time to prove it.