The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t yet a full-blown NBA title contender and, for some, that is an indictment of “The Process” and all that comes with it. Yes, it has seemingly taken forever for Sam Hinkie’s plan to come to fruition (under the leadership of a different regime) but, at the outset of the 2017-2018 season, it is quite clear that the revolution has arrived in Philly.
Joel Embiid is, well, an absolute delight and he happens to be fantastic at basketball. The young big man is averaging 20.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game while operating for much of the year on a minutes restriction and all of the signs of progress from a year ago are coming back with a vengeance. It isn’t only Embiid, though, that provides optimism for the future. Rookie “point guard” Ben Simmons is the early leader for ROY after an explosive start. The former No. 1 overall pick is stuffing the stat sheet to the tune of nearly a triple-double without the benefit of a functional NBA jump shot.
It has to be noted that the Sixers aren’t perfect just yet, with Markelle Fultz experiencing a weird and unfortunate injury situation and a few spots in the rotation being occupied by less than ideal options. Still, the investment in J.J. Redick (and even Amir Johnson) has paid immediate dividends and Philly even rattled off a winning streak this week to vault past the .500 mark. Everything within a ten-game sample has to be taken with a grain of salt and this performance from the (very) youthful Sixers falls into that category. With that said, there is immense talent here and the team’s 6-4 record includes losses to only the Wizards, Celtics, Raptors and Rockets.
Translation? This might be a Sixers team that beats the teams it is supposed to beat and, if that happens along with reasonable health, a playoff spot appears quite likely in the East. Now, let’s find out where Philly is in the pecking order this week when it comes to power rankings.