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2023-24 NBA Power Rankings Early Edition: No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers

Is this the year the Philadelphia 76ers regress? The 76ers have been among the most consistent teams in the Eastern Conference over the last six years. Yet, the Sixers haven’t been able to get over the hump. Now, the Sixers are dealing with the James Harden drama. Will Harden’s toxicity carry through training camp and be enough to force a trade? How will Harden’s situation affect the rest of the team, particularly reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid?

2023-24 NBA Power Rankings Early Edition: No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia is coming off its best regular season since 2000-01, as the Sixers went 54-28 last season. But once again, the 76ers were ousted in the Eastern Conference semis. The Sixers have lost in the semis in five of the past six seasons, with the lone exception being when they couldn’t get out of the opening round. They have won 50 games in four of the past six seasons and at least 49 victories in five of those six campaigns.

Philadelphia did little this offseason in terms of player movement. The 76ers re-signed Paul Reed and Montrezl Harrell. The 76ers also brought in free agents Danny Green, Mo Bamba, and Patrick Beverley. Additionally, 2021 second-round pick Filip Petrusev decided to come over after spending the past few seasons in Europe. The Sixers also replaced Doc Rivers with Nick Nurse.

Best Offseason Decision: Inking Patrick Beverley To A One-Year Deal

Philadelphia plucked Beverley off the open market cheaply to back up Harden. The Sixers’ $3.1 million investment seems better with all the Harden drama.

Beverley is known for his toughness and defense. But the 35-year-old is also a good ball-handler, distributor, rebounder, and capable of knocking down open looks. Essentially the perfect backup point guard for a playoff team, Beverley is a career 37% shooter from beyond the arc.

Worst Offseason Decision: N/A

The 76ers had a pretty good offseason. You could quibble with a few possible decisions, like not trading Harden or Tobias Harris. Both were rumored to be on the trade market, and it is well known that Harden asked for a trade. But the Sixers decided to keep both players, at least for now.

The only other issue is the 76ers matching the Utah Jazz’s $23.5 million offsheet for Reed. Reed had a career year last season and had a few big moments in the playoffs and when Embiid missed time. But the 24-year-old has been a spot player his entire three-year career and only averaged 11 minutes of action in 2022-23, which included two starts.

Granted, Philadelphia said all summer long they planned to keep the 6-foot-10 big man. Reed will likely see more playing time this season as the first frontcourt player off the bench. However, Bamba could take some of Reed’s minutes at center, but will have to wait and see there.

While $23.5 million seems like a ton of money for a player who has yet to do much throughout his career, it is not, considering how Reed’s deal is structured. Reed will make $7.7 million this year, double his previous career earnings. But the 2024-25 and 2025-26 campaigns are only guaranteed if the 76ers win a playoff round this season.

What’s Next? Head To Training Camp

Philadelphia doesn’t appear to have any plans on trading Harden. Unless Harden doesn’t show up to camp or comes in overweight, like he did in Houston, expect him to be with the team as the regular season opens.

Philadelphia has 19 players coming to training camp. Harrell is out for the season with an ACL injury, thus leaving the 76ers with one spot remaining. If the 76ers bring in another player, it will likely be on a training camp deal, as they already have 15 players with standard contracts. Fourteen deals are fully guaranteed, with Petrusev holding a partial pact. Petrusev was always expected to make the 15-man roster, though Harrell’s injury assured his place.

The biggest issue during training camp for the Sixers is who will be second on the depth chart at small forward and center. De’Anthony Melton and Beverley will be the first two players off the bench, while Harris will slide down to the four when Tucker takes a break.

So, Danuel House Jr., Danny Green, Furkan Korkmaz, Reed, and Bamba will be considered for the final two spots. My guess is that House and Bamba are the leading candidates, with Reed filling in at power forward. Green, who the Sixers recently signed, could see some time, but he is 36. Korkmaz’s production has dwindled over the years, but he could get some run if he shoots it well.


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