In the aftermath of the Warriors wrapping up the 2017 NBA Championship, the focus has been on the playoff MVP performance of Kevin Durant, the potential dynasty of Golden State for the next 3 years, the next superstar to join the Cavs to help LeBron retake the championship in 2018, and whether the Lakers will draft Lonzo Ball or pass on the Big Baller Brand. While the Celtics and Wizards will spend money on free-agents to battle for second place in the East as long as LeBron continues to play, the Philadelphia 76er’s are quietly putting together the next team to dominate the Eastern Conference of the NBA. Fans across the country can ignore the Sixers this summer, but by this time next year the NBA buzz will all be about the up and coming Sixers with their young core.
The Sixers 2016-2017 season saw the emergence of the top two rookies in the NBA. After spending two years battling foot injuries, Joel Embiid averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds while playing on a 28 minute per game restriction. Similarly, Dario Saric, the 12th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, made his debut this season and averaged 12.8 points, 6.3 rebounds in his rookie campaign. After spending two years playing in Croatia, Saric’s number and play were even more impressive after the team unloaded Ersan Ilyasova to the Atlanta Hawks. With more minutes per game, Dario played his way into the top candidate for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year averaging 19.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists after the All-Star game and during the second half of the season.
Based upon Saric’s numbers after the All-Star game, the Sixers Big two rookies combined to average almost 40 points, 16 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. The Sixers expect both rookies to take their game to another level during the 2017-2018 season. Without the 28 minute per game restriction, Embiid’s numbers should be at an all time high and be a clear NBA All-Star.
If having the top two rookies coming back for next year was not enough, the Sixers and their fans can continue to Trust The Process and look forward to rookie Ben Simmons making his NBA debate. The Sixers expect the 6’10” and 240 pound Simmons to join Embiid and Saric and be the primary ball hander who runs the offense. In one season at LSU, Simmons averaged 19.2 points per game, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists. Whether the reports are true that Simmons is now 7’0 foot tall, it appears the Sixers have the potential to have back-to-back NBA Rookies of the Year. By the time Christmas comes around, the NBA will be on notice of the emergence of the Sixers and wish that they had a game.
Simmons entry into the NBA will mirror that of teammates Embiid and Saric. Having sat out a year, Simmons will likely take the NBA by surprise. Based upon his one season at LSU and the flashes shown in last season’s rookie leagues, Simmons’ should produce no less than 15 points, 7 assists, and 8 rebounds per game. NBA fans should not fall asleep on Simmons especially, since he had a whole year to prepare for the NBA season. If you have any doubt, go watch ShowTime’s One and Done and then call the Sixers and order your season tickets before they are gone.
Based upon last year’s numbers from Embiid and Saric, the Sixers Big 3 with the addition of Simmons should conservatively combine for 60 points, 25 rebounds, and 15 assists. For 2016 -2017, the remainder of the team outside of Embiid and Saric provided 69.4 points, 28.7 rebounds, and 19.5 assists per game. If Brett Brown can make this all work, the Sixers should be averaging between 105 and 107 points per game and competing for anywhere from the 4th to the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference in 2018. And that’s without adding the 3rd pick in this in the 2017 NBA Draft or any possible free agents.
Just imagine the hype in the Well Fargo Center.
If the 76ers select either guard Lonzo Ball or Josh Jackson with the 3rd overall pick they would be adding another player who spreads the stat sheet. In college, Ball averaged 14.6 points, 6 rebounds, and 7.5 assists at UCLA. Meanwhile, Jackson averaged 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3 assists at Kansas.