The Philadelphia 76ers have been terrible for the past few seasons. Normally, when a team bottoms out and gets to pick very high in the NBA Draft for a couple of years, they are a contender very quickly. But thus far, it has not happened for the Sixers.
Can the Philadelphia 76ers Make the Playoffs This Season?
The Sixers draft picks look like a “who’s who” of recent college basketball stars. This year they picked Ben Simmons, the player many compare to LeBron James, out of LSU. Last year the Sixers took Jahlil Okafor from the NCAA Champion Duke Blue Devils. And in 2014 the franchise selected Embiid with its first pick and then Elfrid Payton after that. Payton is a very good player now, but unfortunately he is a good player for the Orlando Magic. Payton was involved in a draft day trade that sent Croatian star Dario Saric to the Sixers. Saric has been overseas ever since, but he will reportedly make his NBA debut this season with Philadelphia. In 2013, the Sixers drafted Noel and then Michael-Carter Williams, who was a stud at Syracuse. Carter-Williams, the 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year, has since been traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Although there are only two rounds in the NBA Draft, the Sixers have had 20 draft picks since 2013. So why are they still terrible? If half of those picks were working out for them, they should be really good by now.
College vs Pros
Part of the reason is guys like Russ Smith, Glen Rice Jr. Pierre Jackson and Jerami Grant were good college players but not good pros. And of course the 2016 picks have yet to take the floor. Marrese Speights and Andre Iguodala, both of whom were drafted by the Sixers, are two of the players who have helped the Golden State Warriors reach back to back NBA Finals. But the Sixers gave up on them too soon. Iguodala had some good years with the Sixers before being traded to the Denver Nuggets.
So when do the Sixers become a playoff contender? If Simmons is the player most think he is, and if Embiid is back healthy, the Sixers could be really good and turner the corner this season. They would be adding two top picks in the same year to go along with Okafor and Noel.
The Sixers have the luxury of being in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference which means they can be competitive that much faster. Many times, a 41-41 record will get a team into the playoffs in the East. With the Miami Heat looking like they are headed south, and the Chicago Bulls in a state of transition that many feel will not work, the East has some spots open for a team to make the playoffs next year.
The Eastern Conference
The Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks look like they are also on the way down, and the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks have almost entirely turned over their starting lineups. So the Sixers could realistically make it next year if all goes well.
But even without Embiid, the Sixers should be a lot better than they have been in recent seasons with Okafor, Noel, and Simmons.