With training camp starting next week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.
Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com Sixers Insider Jessica Camerato and producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.
In this edition, we discuss our predictions for the Sixers going into the 2017-18 season.
My prediction for the 2017-18 season has to do with an issue nagging the Sixers for years now. I expect the team to figure out the frontcourt logjam and establish more clearly-defined rotations.
The utilization of the bigs has not been consistent. Joel Embiid started when healthy. Jahlil Okafor started when Embiid was unavailable and was benched other times. Richaun Holmes’ season was a mix of starts, DNPs and G League appearances. And (there’s more), Nerlens Noel was on the roster up until the trade deadline.
How much longer will this overcrowding at the five spot last? The situation is a bit tricky because of Embiid’s health. He has not been cleared for 5-on-5 and it remains to be seen how many games and minutes he will play. Okafor, in that case, has been the go-to fill-in starter. The Sixers remain open to trading Okafor. The current situation isn’t and hasn’t been, beneficial for either team or player.
Holmes’ improvements should not be ignored this season just because he had accepted that backup-to-the-backup role. He made a strong case to become the backup center last season and the Sixers should give him the opportunity.
The Sixers also will have to address the shooting guard position, where they are stacked since the addition of JJ Redick, who will see major minutes. Markelle Fultz, a point guard, also will play at the two spot. So what will that mean for Nik Stauskas or Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot? (Furkan Korkmaz is expected to spend time in the G League.)
In enhancing their team this offseason, the Sixers now have to become a more balanced roster. My prediction is they will make moves to accomplish that.
By now you’ve heard just about every prediction for the Sixers. So what’s one more?
The talk this summer has been about the Sixers finally getting through “the process” and reaching the postseason. Both current and former Sixers have guaranteed a playoff berth.
While I tend to agree, I also know it won’t be as easy as they are making it seem.
The Sixers are loaded with talent and potential. Neither of those qualities actually guarantee wins. Just ask the 2016-17 Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Sixers will have to incorporate several new key players and adopt an entirely different mindset of expecting to win instead of hoping to come out on top each night.
Then there’s the competition. The Eastern Conference remains top heavy with the best four squads likely still holding firm (Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Washington).
After that, things get a little more wide open. Three of the bottom four seeds from last season’s playoff participants in the East lost their best players either to free agency or via trade (Atlanta: Paul Millsap, Indiana: Paul George and Chicago: Jimmy Butler).
That should definitely clear up some room for the Sixers to make a push for one of those back-end playoff spots, but don’t expect them to jump from the basement to the Eastern Conference Finals.
My prediction for the Sixers, much like everyone else's, is that they'll make the playoffs.
There is a caveat, however. If they don't make the playoffs, it's not the end of the world.
The Cavaliers and Celtics are the class of the East. And really it's not very close. After them, the second tier is the Raptors and Wizards. After that, it gets a little murky. Given the landscape of the Eastern Conference, it's certainly realistic to say the Sixers could make the playoffs.
But the Sixers shouldn't be worried about that. It would be outstanding for this young team's confidence (and how could you not feel great for Brett Brown after what he's dealt with the last four years) to make the playoffs, but their goals should be improvement and health. This team has some serious work to do to jell together and Brown has serious questions to answer about his rotation. It won't all be sorted out overnight.
Having the NBA playoffs back in Philly is going to be a blast, but let's focus on this team's development above all else.