Philadelphia Basketball is back. All it took was a 6 point loss to a team that was in the Western Conference Finals last season and a 20 point debut from a player that I was convinced would never play.
The loss was not the point, the gameplay we saw from the 76ers actually resembled NBA Basketball, unlike what we’ve been seeing the last three seasons. The Philadelphia 76ers were 47-199 from 2013 to 2016 and have not been above .500 since 2004. They went from a very simple plan of Tanking for Andrew Wiggins (which ended up not happening), to writing the book on how to tank correctly. There is a cult like mentality behind the 76ers in their fan base, the followers of former General Manager Sam Hinkie, who have bought in entirely to the plan that has been playing out up until this season, these people Trust the Process. Joel Embiid, the rookie Center of the Philadelphia 76ers, has adopted “The Process” as his nickname and has further perpetuated the pandemonium around the 76ers rebuild. Being from Philadelphia has shown me that I should always be skeptical of my sports teams, and that everything can and will go wrong. The difference is, with the Philadelphia 76ers, for several years, things have been constantly going wrong at an alarming rate; they’re due. After major injuries to Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, JahlilOkafor, and Ben Simmons; the debacle of Andrew Bynum, and the misery caused by the NBA DraftLottery, things are actually starting to look up. Once Jahlil and Joel’s minutes are no longer restricted,the games change, when Joel Embiid is on the floor the game is just different. The two shut down Dwight Howard in the first half of the Sixers-Hawks game, Dwight Howard had two points and four personal fouls halfway through the 3 rd quarter.
The 76ers are far away from championship contenders, but they are not far from an 7 th or 8 th seed in the Eastern Conference. The chemistry simply isn’t there right now, but why would it be? Joel Embiid is the star of this team, until Ben Simmons returns from his injury then they will have two stars. Aside from those two you still have Dario Saric attempting to transition into the NBA style of play, Jahlil Okafor trying to learn how to play as a supporting player, and then no one knows what to expect of the Nerlens Noel situation. The supporting cast of players who receive little attention, like Sergio Rodriguez, Robert Covington, and Nik Stauskas are developing at an impressive rate. Stauskas, once thought to be “Kyle Korver-lite” has been playing aggressively in the lane and coach Brett Brown thinks extremely highly of him. Sergio Rodriguez looks like a real starting NBA Point Guard, opposed to what we’ve seen over the course of the last three years.
To be completely honest, the Nerlens Noel injury is proving to be beneficial for the 76ers, Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid are learning how to play with one another. This 3-5 week knee injury is obviously not good for Nerlens Noel, but I think it boosts the idea that the 76ers will trade him at some point this season, if they get the right value and Jahlil meshes with Joel; I am 100% behind trading him. Trying to get a team to mesh is always difficult but it looks like the Sixers have the pieces, but need time to grow together. They are 0-2 and committing ugly turnovers, miscommunicating, and there are people playing out of position; but the majority of these players are younger than twenty-five years old. There is nowhere to go but up for the 76ers, literally they won 10 games last season. This season is a success if Ben Simmons plays, Joel Embiid stays healthy, and the team wins more than 23 games. The fans chant “Trust the Process” and the stadium is filling up. This is a new era for the 76ers, but not like Andre Igoudala era, the Michael Carter-Williams era, or whatever the last three years have been. The Sixers are less than three seasons away from playoff basketball and they are developing into a very unique and interesting team to watch. –
Written by: Jason Peters @JpetersTSR