The Philadelphia 76ers have been in a “rebuilding” mode the last five seasons.

 

This rebuilding mode consisted of winning between 18-25 games per year in hopes of garnering a top 3 overall pick in the next year’s draft to grab the best player from that class in hopes that he will, in turn, turn into a cornerstone piece of their franchise.

 

This process would be repeated every year then in hopes that the team will get to a point where they are now, where, through the draft and free agent acquisitions, they would have a team full of young stars and heady veterans.

 

The 2017-2018 Philadelphia 76ers have finally believed that they have assembled that kind of team and are now ready to compete for a playoff spot.

 

With Joel Embiid (3rd pick of the 2014 Draft), Dario Saric (12th pick of the 2014 Draft), Ben Simmons (1st pick of the 2016 Draft) and Markelle Fultz (1st pick of the 2017 Draft) along with vets like J.J. Redick, Jerryd Bayless, Robert Covington and others, they believe that this year’s team can make some noise in the East.

 

After Embiid’s breakout 31 games last season, the official start of Ben Simmons’ career this year as well as Markelle Fultz’ debut, there is much reason to believe in the same from an outside perspective.

 

Their journey back to the playoffs began last night versus the Washington Wizards, a prohibitive favorite to challenge for the Eastern Conference crown.

 

For the Sixers, this would be a great first test and kind of temperature game to see exactly where they are at and more importantly, where they can go.

 

Last night showed a lot of promise and even more reasons to believe that they could make a legitimate effort for the playoffs this year.

 

Although the score didn’t fall on their side, there were a lot of great things that were displayed.

 

First off, Ben Simmons’ first game was a success. He became one of four players in the history of the league to notch 18+ points, 10+ rebounds and 5+ assists in their first NBA game. Simmons showed signs of exactly what made him the number one pick of last year’s draft. His ability to grab the defensive rebound and push it up the floor is invaluable and showed itself true many times last night. While in the game, Simmons handled the ball a ton and made some good plays to put his teammates in positions to score effectively. His length, strength and uncanny quickness at that size presented some problems for Wizards defenders like Otto Porter, Jr and others.

 

The one thing that exposed itself was the lack of a jump shot. Many times, after coming off a pick and roll, defenders would back off of Simmons, daring him to shoot. If he can develop some confidence in his mid range game, he could become unstoppable as he already possesses a great ability to slash to the rim and finish with either hand.

 

(The Australian)

For Joel Embiid, it was a pretty good start back into action for the big man.

 

After being devoid of basketball activities for much of the offseason, Embiid clearly looked out of shape last night. However, he was still able to impose his will and make his presence felt within the game. His jump shot looked great and he showed great touch around the rim. As he gets into shape, his footwork will improve, he will be able to get up and down the court quicker and rebound better as well. For the Sixers, there’s no worry about how Embiid will perform, the big worry is if we will be able to see him perform on a daily basis. Early this season, he will be on a minutes restriction which is done to try to prevent any injury. As the season progresses, he will begin to play back into form and be dominant.

 

For Markelle Fultz, it was a lackluster debut performance. Although he scored 10 points coming off the bench, he looked very slow and nonchalant at times, almost as if he’s been in this league for 10 years.

 

Possibly due to this apparent shoulder injury, his jump shot looked a little off and it was as if he was straining to make it through the game yesterday. Despite the lack of quickness that was apparent, he made some tough shots in the paint that give you a glimpse of what he can do. Just like Embiid, as he continues to play and get into playing shape, we will see the full breadth of his game come into the fold.

 

Overall, losing 120-115 to one of the better teams in the East was an ok result for the Sixers. They showed signs of a team that has the potential to dominant for years to come and with Redick and Covington shooting the three ball well, it will open the floor up for their young stars to go to work.

 

The chemistry looked great last night and you can tell that this is a team that loves to play with each other and have a genuine love for one another.

 

I believe that they have the potential to win about 42 or 43 games this year and made a run at that sixth or seventh spot in the playoffs this year.

 

Do you think the Sixers will make the playoffs this year? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.