The Philadelphia 76ers endured a nightmarish season. Towards the end, the guy they traded so much for (James Harden) looked like a shell of himself and sparked questions about his future after coming up small in an elimination game.
In the beginning, the 76ers had to deal with the Ben Simmons saga, which became one of the biggest stories around the league. He refused to play and essentially forced the team to trade him in February. All along the way, he was waging war against the franchise.
According to head coach Doc Rivers, the whole thing was a huge distraction and hindered the potential of the entire team:
“We had a lot of distractions this year,” Rivers said after their season-ending loss to the Heat, via Justin Grasso of FanNation. “You know, we really did. And I think when I look back on the season, you know, not having our second-best player for most of the year, no one thought we would be where we would record-wise. So, I like to think that we did a hell of a job getting us getting us there. And then we get James, and we want to see if we had enough time to put it together. And clearly, we did not.”
Before the 2021 playoffs, the Sixers had title aspirations. Their core of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Seth Curry was good enough to go against any team. Sadly, Ben checked out on his team and it sent Philly into a downward spiral they have yet to recover from.
The hope is that, with Simmons gone, the 76ers can re-make their identity, build chemistry, and finally breakthrough with a long playoff run next year. Joel Embiid will be ready, but it falls on James Harden to find his superstar form again.
If not, it could continue to hold the 76ers back.