After almost half a decade and beginning the rebuild known as “The Process,” the Philadelphia 76ers are finally ready to reap its rewards.
The 2017-18 NBA season is the first season in a while where Sixers fans actually have something to be excited about. Over the course of the past 4 seasons, Philly has finished with more than 20 wins just one time. In 2015, the team managed only 10 wins, bad enough to post the second worst record in NBA history. It seemed destined that the 76ers would be a bottom of the barrel team for many, many years to come.
However, The Process is beginning to pay off, and Philadelphia is beginning to show signs of life. That life is held within the 76ers young core, headlined by two #1 overall draft picks in Ben Simmons, and most recently, Markelle Fultz. While 2 of those 3 have yet to play a single NBA game, the hype behind the bunch is felt across the entire league. There is strong reason to believe that this new “Big 3” will lead the 76ers back to relevancy and success.
With all the great things coming out of Philly, I am only wondering one thing: Which young guy will become the leader of this 76ers squad?
The Sixers have all the potential and talent in the world in Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz. My question is, which of the 3 will step up the most and lead Philadelphia to the promised land (or at least to a better record)?
Of the three, Joel Embiid is the only to play any NBA games, although not many. But in those games he did play, he was able to play very well. In 31 games, he averaged 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game. What excited so many is that Embiid averaged that all while having his minutes restricted, only playing around 25 minutes a game. This leaves most analysts and fan in agreement that Embiid is a special talent. He is shaping up to be one of the more complete players in the game already. On offense he has a strong post up game, can shoot the jumper efficiently, and even stretched his game out beyond the 3-point line this year. Defensively, he can be an incredible force and rim protector. Embiid has all the makings of a superstar for years to come. His biggest downfall? Injuries. He missed 2 full years due to injury, and missed 50 more games this year. While Embiid certainly has the talent to make him the leader and go to guy in Philly, can he stay healthy enough to lead his team on the court?
Ben Simmons was one of the most talented and dominating college basketball players in recent years when he was taken #1 overall by the 76ers in 2016. Simmons averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals on a very below average LSU team. A 6’10 point-forward, Simmons is best with the ball in his hands. He is able to create for himself, where he has the size to beat smaller defenders, as well as use his speed and ball handling to beat bigger defenders off the dribble. Simmons is a match-up nightmare. And scoring isn’t even his best attribute. Simmons’ incredible vision and play making ability helps set his teammates for great looks, which may be what he must do in order to help the Sixers this year. The only flaw to Simmons’ game is his shooting. As of now, he is not a threat further than 18 feet out. This stunts his offensive game, but he is a smart player. In college, he shot 56% from the floor by taking good, close shots, as well as having the ability to finish at the rim. While Simmons has yet to play an NBA game (missing his entire rookie season due to injury) his makeup might give him the best chance of being the leader in Philadelphia. Depending on how he responds early in the season, he might just get that title sooner rather than late. However, Simmons caught the injury bug early in his career too, something that may drive the team away from wanting to rely on him.
On to this years top pick, Markelle Fultz. After the 76ers traded up to the #1 pick, they seemingly already knew Fultz was their guy. While at Washington, Fultz was a beast. He averaged 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, and proved to the nation he was deserving of that first overall draft selection. Fultz definitely seemed to be the perfect fit for Philly. A great shooter, play maker, and athlete, he can do it all. He can play with the ball in his hands, or spot up. He can create for others, as well as get a bucket himself. Fultz has also shown signs of being a good leader, which could be vital on a still young, still rebuilding Sixers team. His biggest adversity to becoming “The Guy” in Philly (so far) is simple: he is playing with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid has already proven he is a world-class talent, and Simmons has all the potential in the world to be as dominant as they come. Where will that leave Markelle Fultz? Will he be asked to step up and lead, or will he fall to the background while one of the others grabs the reigns?
As you can see, this is all very much still for the taking, and I would love to hear who you guys think will be “The Guy” in Philly! Tweet @realballinsiders and/or at me, @b_Freaky13 and let me know who you got!