The Philadelphia 76ers have had their share of hard times, but the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to break thru. The 76ers in 2016 will be a better team than the 10, 18 and 19 wins they had the last three seasons. It takes time to build a winner and more time to craft a contender, its all about baby steps for the 76ers and 2016 they will make a giant one.
There are still holes on the roster that must be filled but wth the addition of Ben Simmons, quietly the 76ers may have one of the best frontcourts in the NBA. Nerlens Noel is a defensive and rebounding monster; Jahlil Okafor is a mismatch for most PF’s in the league, and now you add in the slashing and finesse moves of Simmons and the frontcourt will be hard to stop for any veteran team. But where does that leave Joel Embiid?
The team has been quiet about his progress from surgery but all indications are that he will be ready to play come opening night, and if that holds true, then my assessment of the team was wrong, they will have the best frontcourt in the NBA.
Noel averaged 11 points and six rebounds in 2015, while Okafor put up 18 points and seven rebounds but the difference between 2015 and 2016 will be the offense. Last season Ish Smith was running the show and taking 15 shots per game. This year, maybe it’s Jerryd Bayless who is more of a floor general, and with that being said, production from the PG spot will decline, meaning more opportunities for Nole, Okafor, and Simmons. HC Brett Brown is a Spurs guy, and for years the offense ran through the post courtesy of Tim Duncan if Brown can get the 76ers offense to flow in that direction I can see a 30-win season.
Simmons is the key, if he can improve his perimeter game that will open up the floor spacing and allow Noel, Okafor, and Embiid more room to operate. Last season the team ranked near the bottom in almost every offense and defense category, but that was expected due to injuries and inexperience but with health not being an issue heading into camp we should see a major improvement. The team was top 10 in steals and top 3 in blocks, but it was the injuries and inconsistency of players that will now fill a reserve role making way for better production.
Sixers fans have the right to be optimistic about the future; it’s bright, and if all goes well there will be plenty more to cheer about in the years to come.