The upcoming season could be pivotal for Philadelphia in the near future. The team has long been awaiting results, which have largely eluded them. It’s quite probable that the team’s performance in the upcoming season and their ability to navigate the situation surrounding the James Harden trade will determine whether Joel Embiid becomes the next dissatisfied superstar who requests a trade from Philadelphia.
In simpler terms, the 76ers need a successful championship run; otherwise, they risk ending up in a high-stakes kazino, with both the opportunity to strengthen their position and the risk of losing everything they have, including Embiid.
Last season’s results: 3rd place, 54-28.
Arrivals – Patrick Beverley, Danny Green, Kelly Oubre, Mo Bamba.
Departures – James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, Furkan Korkmaz, Daniel House, Tobias Harris, P.J. Tucker, Joel Embiid, Dewayne Dedmon, Paul Reed, Montrezl Harrell.
What to Expect from the Team
During the offseason, two significant events took place in Philadelphia.
One of them was the change in head coach. Doc Rivers’ departure had been expected for some time. He was replaced by Nick Nurse, the former head coach of the Toronto Raptors who led them to their first-ever championship in 2019. Nurse is considered one of the best coaches in the league, and his arrival is expected to have a positive impact on Philadelphia’s game, especially on Joel Embiid. Nurse is known for getting the most out of his players, but he should be cautious given Embiid’s well-known injury history.
The second significant event was James Harden’s reluctance to continue working with Philadelphia, his request for a trade to the 76ers, and the accusations against the General Manager, Daryl Morey, who also happens to be his old friend. While I don’t have all the details of this “falling out,” it’s reasonable to assume that both sides of the conflict pursued their own goals and couldn’t find common ground.
As for the 76ers’ offseason acquisitions, they seem rather modest. While acquiring Mo Bamba at a discount with hopes that he finally thrives is a good move, it remains challenging with Joel Embiid, the reigning league MVP, and three other big men competing for minutes. Bamba’s ability to stretch the floor theoretically makes him a candidate to play alongside one of the centers, perhaps even with Embiid.
In the backcourt, the departure of Shake Milton was replaced by Patrick Beverley. While I believe Milton is a better player and deserved a chance (hopefully, he’ll get it in Minnesota), Philadelphia may have lacked the toughness and leadership qualities at times. Although they have Tucker to fill this role, having two tough and experienced players is better than one. I’m skeptical about the reincarnation of Danny Green. Nevertheless, his experience, leadership qualities, and previous collaboration with Nurse in 2019 could be beneficial for Philadelphia. As for Kelly Oubre, when he initially signed with the 76ers, I mentioned that this could be his last chance to establish himself in the NBA.
Player to Watch: Tyrese Maxey
Tyrese Maxey is progressing well. Last season, he averaged 20 points per game, shot 48% from the field, and made 43% of his three-point attempts on more than six tries per game. The upcoming season could be a breakout year for the guard, especially considering James Harden’s potential departure and the past progress of smaller guards under Nurse’s guidance. Maxey has all the chances to make a loud statement in the next season.
However, the key factor remains the level of play, health, and enthusiasm of Joel Embiid. Personally, I’m starting to have some doubts. Embiid has been consistently unprepared for the playoffs, at least not at 100%. Constant injuries and poor form have been prevalent. Although it might not be entirely fair to expect a player to be at his absolute best after a grueling 82-game regular season, some players manage to elevate their performance significantly during the playoffs. Elite, legendary players have been able to do this, setting them apart from ordinary players. I can’t say the same for Joel at the moment. We’ll see what happens in the next season. I won’t say I’m expecting something radically different, but I’m personally interested in observing the emotional aspect of his game.
Prediction: 3rd place in the Eastern Conference.