The 76ers start their season today in D.C. against the Wizards. Meaning its the last day to submit your Sixers season predictions before Santa puts coal in your stockings. Because I like my stocking full of candy, cat socks, and deodorant, I want to put these predictions on record.
Ben Simmons will win rookie of the year
“They’re not talking about him enough,” said Grizzlies Head Coach David Fizdale after they matched up against Ben Simmons in the preseason.
Honestly coach, I could not agree more. For whatever reason, not everyone realizes Simmons is a rookie. The rookies took a survey predicting who would win Rookie of the Year, and Ben Simmons finished tied for fourth with Kyle Kuzma and Donovan Mitchell. He was drafted in 2016, but if he had been drafted this the rookies may have remembered Ben Simmons is better than all of them.
“He is one of those super freaks.”
David Fizdale may be one Ben Simmons’s biggest fans because he said this too. The Sixers are calling him a point guard and he will likely lead the team in assists. At nearly seven feet, he may even be among team leaders in rebounds. Speed ties his skillset together and forms Ben Simmons, the “super freak”.
He should be the favorite to win Rookie of the year, even over Kuzma and Mitchell. His play will back that up.
Brett Brown’s national perception will improve
In his four-year career Brett Brown only has 75 wins. His record shouldn’t reflect how well Coach can coach given the circumstances he was working with. The kind of basketball he commands fits right in with today’s game ONLY IF it has the right players. As it goes, most fans only see the low win total and judge him without considering his teams were designed to lose.
Adding Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, JJ Redick, and more Embiid will make the roster much more talented than last season’s. Fultz will likely have a lot of good games, I am just not sold he is enough of an impact player to impact the fate of the season. Simmons, Redick, and Embiid give Brett Brown fun new tools to use in the offense. The gravity they command finally gives coach the ability to make a fun offense. With Embiid and Robert Covington anchoring the defense, an elite defender can be on the floor for most of the game.
The kinds of fans who only see win totals will need to see more wins and a good playoff seed to change their minds. With the East starving for stars, hungrier yet after Gordon Hayward‘s injury last night, the opportunity is there for Brett Brown to prove his coaching process can yield results. Coach Brown is a good coach and he will prove it this year.
The Sixers will win 44 games and earn the 5th seed
Getting the 5 seed would go a long way towards improving what people think of Brett Brown. As the saying goes, if Embiid stays healthy the Sixers can win a lot more games. Winning 44 games would put them at 5 more wins than fivethirtyeight.com predicts, but the talent added to the roster is real and Embiid being healthy raises the floor of how bad they can play on any given night by quite a bit.
Relative to how poor the East is from bottom to near the top, 44 wins is quite a lot. The Celtics and Cavs will both likely be without stars for at least the rest of the calendar year, and no other team outside the Raptors and Wizards seems to be ready to contend for a top-4 seed. Add in that the rest of the East is full of flawed and tanking teams and you have a recipe for success.
Jahlil Okafor and Jerryd Bayless will be traded
The Sixers have shown no reason to think they want Jahlil Okafor on the team in some time. Their handling of him hasn’t been great, but he hasn’t exactly held up his end of the bargain either. I wrote about Jah and the Sixers over the summer. If the Sixers don’t trade him before the deadline they will be forced to cut him this summer to clear cap space.
Jerryd Bayless is working for the Sixers on a three-year, $27 million deal. Trading his contract away will make a dent in clearing space for next summer. It’s conceivable the Sixers will have Simmons, Fultz, and TJ McConnell (maybe even Dario?) as reliable ball handlers. Simmons and Fultz are going to get minutes no matter what so they can develop into what they were drafted to be. So it will mostly be up to TJ to elevate his to make Bayless expendable. He can’t shoot as well as Bayless, but in preseason he showed nice chemistry with the team and looked like a really good backup point guard.
Featured image via @sixers