For the first time in like forever, something positive is brewing in Philadelphia. And no, I don’t mean the tank fest. (Although with probably a five-horse race for the top overall pick next year, that’s not entirely a bad idea.)
But yeah, let’s forget about the 10-72 record last season or the 18-64 slate from the season before. While they still figure to be one of the worst teams in the league, the excitement surrounding Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric is warranted. These three are the future of the Sixers and in the case of Simmons, the 2016 No. 1 overall pick is expected to be produce immediately for an offense ranked last in efficiency last season.
Odd Man Out?
With Embiid now available, Philadelphia has three starting caliber centers along with Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. While that is not a bad problem per se, it could create more confusion and less room to grow for these bigs, who are all just under 23 years of age. Trade is one option for new GM Bryan Colangelo but he reportedly isn’t just going to make one just for the heck of making one.
Nobody is quite sure at this point as the Sixers may choose to wait on how Embiid is coming along with the midfoot fracture recovery. Initial reports, however, indicate that the team could be gauging Okafor’s value. A very capable low post scorer, the former Duke standout averaged 17.5 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks last season.
Rookie of the Year
Simmons will most probably be handed the keys to the Sixers offense right off the bat. The Australian phenom is 6-foot-10 with point guard skills although he can be too unselfish to a fault. With better players around him, Simmons could average more than the 4.8 dimes per night he dished in college. Simmons’ shaky jumper will be exposed early on by NBA defenses but at some point, his raw talent and athleticism should win out. He may not turn out to be the double-double machine that he was at LSU just yet, but somewhere along the 17-7-6 line is foreseeable for the ultra-talented Simmons.
Come October 26, the Sixers will probably rank as the league’s youngest team with an average age of 24.2. It’s nice to have a young core and develop them together, but during this formative stage, it’s important to have a voice of reason in what was expected to be a tough learning process. That’s exactly why Gerald Henderson is for.
Henderson, 28, is still young enough to play video games with the younger Sixers but is in the league long enough to be a mentor. The former college champion at Duke played the back-up role in Portland but showed no signs of slowing down. His per-36 minute numbers are right on par with his Charlotte days and was shooting at a slightly higher clip from distance for the Blazers. In fact, as this Sixer Sense article pointed out, Henderson hit 44.4% of his rainbow attempts from the corner. Aside from taking (and hitting) the smartest shot on the floor, Henderson also hit at a remarkable 74.7% from three feet of the rim, an indication of a great finisher.