It’s been a long time since 2013. Well, in the grand scheme of human history it hasn’t been that long. But relating to the Philadelphia 76ers, 2013 might as well have been centuries ago.
The losses, the commotion, the punches thrown, the diets, the Twitter handles, the lack of shooting, the broken bones, the list goes on and on. Documentaries will be made regardless of what happens with the rest of Brett Brown’s tenure in Philadelphia. It’s been the best damn drama, often comedy for more than half a decade in all of entertainment.
There are big questions in terms of offensive fit and who takes the last shot, but the roster at the top appears set, and it’s a great one. There won’t be a drastic trade in November or a desperate heave come February. It’s more than OK to be bullish on this 76ers team. They were a couple bounces away (and overtime*) from making the conference finals months ago.
Al Horford will lead the defense in the moments Joel Embiid needs a break in the postseason. Josh Richardson will guard opposing point guards that routinely gave Philadelphia fits a season ago. They will rely on Tobias Harris with greater emphasis after mainly serving as a spot-up, cast off for much of last postseason. Ben Simmons could be the key that unlocks everything to propel the 76ers’ offense towards the top of the league if he willingly and efficiently makes threes.
Sure, it could blow up in Philadelphia’s face given how limited their half-court offense might be, but this team has the personnel to be the best defensive team in the league by miles. The 76ers have two young, springy wings off the bench who will have every opportunity to make an impact. It’s a team with championship aspirations. It’s hard to find a better roster in the NBA, especially with questions about Paul George’s health, the Los Angeles Lakers’ depth and no clear favorite with Golden State’s demise.
As Kevin Durant presumably sits out the season, the East most likely will be a two-team race between Philadelphia and Milwaukee with Boston as a real lurker with the potential of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker, but the 76ers have too much talent, too much firepower to be anything expect one of the two best teams in the East.
Simmons made his only three-point attempt last night. It doesn’t count for anything besides an incredible reaction from Embiid, the crowd and every major Instagram account letting the Internet know it finally happened. (Even if it happened during an exhibition against a non-NBA team). At least he made one. His willingness to take threes should continue to be a development as the season progresses. It would be weird if he attempted more than a few each game during the early portion of the season given his success ignoring the three-point shot his first two seasons. It’s just imperative he takes and makes some.
It feels like forever that the 76ers routinely began seasons without winning a game for a major stretch. Those dark, barren days have been a thing in the past for the better part of three seasons now, but this roster, despite its shortcomings, is Philadelphia’s best roster to begin a season in decades.
Which means anything short of a Finals appearance describes failure.