Revealed on 18 Oct 2022 7:26 pm (UK Time)
On the eve of the 2022-23 NBA season, the Philadelphia Sixers have seemingly gone below the radar as title challengers from the Jap Convention. Usually neglected for the likes of the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks, the Sixers have all of the instruments to make the NBA Finals.
40 years is a very long time. 40 years in sports activities, the place narratives change so rapidly (bear in mind when Julius Randle received MIP?!), is even longer. The 1982-83 NBA season was the final time the Philadelphia Sixers received the NBA Championship.
That 12 months a Sixers crew led by the greats of ‘Dr J’ Julius Erving and Moses Malone received the Larry O’Brien trophy for Philadelphia. Since then, all-time greats equivalent to Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson have tried however didn’t emulate the crew of 82/83.
But now within the current, led by Joel Embiid and James Harden, normal supervisor Daryl Morey has assembled the Sixers finest crew in a very long time. Listed below are the explanation why this may very well be the Sixers 12 months.
May this be the 12 months Embiid wins MVP?
Any title aspirations of the Sixers have fallen on the ft of Joel Embiid. The four-time All-NBA Second crew heart is likely one of the prime 5 gamers in the entire league, and an in depth second to Giannis Antetokounmpo as the very best participant within the Jap Convention. Having come second in MVP voting the previous two years to Nikola Jokic, Embiid can be searching for to go one higher this 12 months.
After changing into the primary heart to steer the league in scoring since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-00. Embiid solely wants to supply on the fee he did final season, additionally managing to be wholesome for 65-plus video games to be the MVP frontrunner. Voter apathy is more likely to rule Jokic out except he breaks much more information, thus making it a possible shootout with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Embiid is an offensive juggernaut, possessing an encyclopaedia of publish strikes, he can get no matter shot he needs when within the paint. Embiid’s means to attain on three ranges is mirrored in his 2021/22 scoring document, averaging 30.6 ppg throughout 68 video games.
He’s additionally an elite paint defender, standing at 7 ft with a 7 foot 4 wingspan, he is ready to disrupt opponents’ photographs at a excessive stage. That is seen within the analytics the place final season he was prime ten in defensive field plus-minus and prime 4 in defensive win/shares, a very dominant particular person on the defensive finish.
Till a freak orbital bone fracture throughout the playoffs, final season was Embiid’s healthiest within the league. Within the seven years previous to the 21/22 season, he had by no means performed greater than 64 video games, typically side-lined with a litany of accidents.
If Embiid can stay wholesome all through the upcoming season, the Sixers ought to robotically be recognised as title contenders, since in most matchups significantly within the East (barring the Bucks) Embiid would be the finest participant on the courtroom.
A Full Season of James Harden
2022 is the 12 months Embiid lastly obtained an elite secondary scoring possibility, with James Harden arriving from Brooklyn through commerce for Ben Simmons. Harden’s performances for Brooklyn and his lacklustre efforts within the playoffs for the Sixers recommend his prime Houston Rockets self is lengthy gone, however he stays a succesful secondary possibility on a championship-contending crew.
Hampered by a hamstring harm throughout the 2021 playoffs, Harden seemingly misplaced his explosiveness, which was a key staple in his prime. In current press conferences, he has talked about this summer season is the primary time in a 12 months and a half wherein he has been wholesome, specializing in dropping pounds and constructing muscle mass. May we maybe see a return to the Houston Harden?
It could be too early to foretell that, however a wholesome Harden is a big plus for the Sixers. He could have misplaced a few of his explosiveness, however he stays an elite three-level scorer, drawing double groups, whereas he has sharpened his playmaking lately, averaging ten assists per recreation over the previous two years.
Harden and Embiid have established a dominant partnership. Their proficient pick-and-roll recreation and skill to draw double groups, meant final season when on the courtroom collectively the Sixers outscored their opponents by 15.5 factors per 100 possessions. With each match heading into the brand new season, they need to be sufficient to win most common season matchups within the East.
A Bolstered Squad
Embiid’s well being stands out as the decider whether or not they can really win, however it’s exterior their finest two gamers that the Sixers improved themselves from playoff hopefuls to anticipated title challengers. Tyrese Maxey’s profession development suggests he ought to have a borderline all-star 12 months because the tertiary participant on this crew. Final season he averaged 17.5 ppg with 4.3 assists on 48% capturing. A quick, shoot-first guard, with playmaking skills, makes Maxey the proper understudy to Harden who can take over when Harden is off the courtroom.
The largest weak point for Sixers final season was their depth. Doc Rivers insistence on taking part in 5 bench participant line-ups throughout video games was a key space wherein the Miami Warmth have been capable of take over their sequence and ship the Sixers house. In the course of the low season Harden opted out of his $47 million greenback participant possibility, to signal a team-friendly deal, permitting Morey to signal necessary position gamers.
Sixers incoming offseason strikes:
- PJ Tucker, Danuel Home Jr and Montrezl Harrell (through free company)
- De’Anthony Melton (through commerce with Memphis, Danny Inexperienced and the twenty third decide within the 2022 draft)
These incomings have bolstered the Sixers squad and bench to top-of-the-line within the league. Buying Tucker from the Warmth, weakens a convention rival, whereas additionally giving the crew some much-needed dimension. That is essential as apart for Embiid, the Sixers struggled with rebounding and defending forwards/facilities when Embiid was off the courtroom.
Tucker’s tenacity as a defender can be extraordinarily worthwhile. His means to play heart will enable Doc Rivers to relaxation Embiid throughout the common season, and probably experiment with some attention-grabbing small ball line-ups.
Harrell like Tucker will present the crew with some much-needed rebounding, he additionally ought to type a very good pick-and-roll partnership with Harden and Maxey. Home Jr gives a strong wing possibility, with the power for spot-up capturing, a key talent when taking part in with Harden and Embiid resulting from their knack of making open appears to be like for others.
De’Anthony Melton is a superb addition, a tenacious defender, who alongside Matisse Thybulle will trigger offensive guards and wings main points. The two led the league in steal proportion (fee of instances an opponent’s possession led to a steal towards them) final season, proving the nightmare potential their opponents will face.
The Sixers have come out of the summer season a extra rounded and deeper crew. Tobias Harris is a strong fourth possibility, whereas the likes of Thybulle, Paul Reed, Georges Niang and Furkan Korkmaz with the brand new acquisitions, will have the ability to play to their strengths in additional comfy roles.
What are the Sixers weaknesses?
In the end the 2 largest components weighing towards the Sixers are their groups’ well being and Doc Rivers.
The well being of key gamers has already been touched upon, however their coach Doc Rivers has not. A championship winner with Boston in 2008, this present Sixers roster is just not Doc’s first loaded crew previously 15 years. Actually, Rivers has been on the helm of among the best assembled rosters that failed within the playoffs. His Clippers groups between 2014-17 and 2020 capitulated below stress after they have been clearly the extra gifted crew in every situation.
Rivers has come below scrutiny in these campaigns and with the Sixers, for his lack of ability to change ways mid-game. This was exampled within the Sixers sorry elimination to the Warmth final season, the place Rivers saved rolling out an all-bench crew, who have been constantly overwhelmed on rebounds and misplaced any maintain within the video games.
The Sixers are sturdy sufficient and deep sufficient for Rivers teaching deficiencies to be a non-factor within the common season however come the playoffs, the microscope can be on Rivers and whether or not he can profit from this gifted roster he has at his disposal.
The blocks in the way in which of success for the Sixers could also be massive, however this crew led by Joel Embiid and James Harden, shouldn’t be underestimated when predicting who will win all of it this season. Count on the Sixers to have top-of-the-line information within the East (50-plus wins needs to be a assure) and a deep run within the playoffs, if every part runs easily.
And perhaps, simply perhaps might they create the NBA championship again to Philly for the primary time in 40 years.
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