Are 76ers better today than they were at the end of last season?

The Philadelphia 76ers were very active on the first day of free agency. They reportedly re-signed Tobias Harris to a five-year deal, traded Jimmy Butler(signed four-year deal with Miami) to the Heat in a sign-and-trade for Josh Richardson(deal still being worked on), and signed Al Horford to a four-year contract. Also, Mike Scott re-upped with the team, and JJ Redick has moved on to the Pelicans. These deals can’t be official until July 6.

So, at this point, Philly’s projected starting lineup is Ben Simmons, Richardson, Harris, Horford, and Joel Embiid. That is an excellent lineup, and this lineup has the potential to be very good on the defensive end. All the starters will be at least 6’6″ or taller. However, is it better than what they had to finish last season? Not so sure.

One of the issues Philly had before they brought in Butler, was not having a guy who can beat you off the dribble and effectively create their own shot. Butler did that for the 76ers. He was a guy you can give the ball to and ask him to make a play, which was on full display against the Raptors in the playoffs, where he led the team in points per game(22.0) and assists per game(5.6). He was Philly’s best player in that series. People forget it was Butler who tied the game up late in the fourth quarter before Kawhi Leonard hit that miracle shot to close out the series. With Butler taking his talents to South Beach, it’s going to be imperative for Ben Simmons to step up. Simmons, who made his first All-Star team last season, can do a lot, but since he has not developed his jump shot yet, he can’t be your closer. Also, Harris is a good offensive player. However, while he is solid off the dribble, he is not Butler, and for as good as Embiid is, he is not a guy who can get a shot off the way Butler can late in games.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this new lineup works for Philadelphia. It’s definitely more versatile and more athletic, on paper than what they had last season, but in terms of better, time will have to be the judge of that. Remember, this team was a couple of bounces away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals and beating the eventual champions, the Toronto Raptors.

Obviously, they will add more pieces to this roster, but for now, it’s too close to call on whether this starting five and team will be better than what they had last season.

I guess we gotta see how this all plays out!

Advertisements

76ers’ Tobias Harris: ‘We didn’t have enough time to get the full chemistry'(VIDEO)

There were three different versions of the Philadelphia 76ers last season. They started the year with Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid as their starting five. Then, in November, Philly traded Covington and Saric to Minnesota to acquire Jimmy Butler, and finally, before the trade deadline, Philly acquired Tobias Harris from the Clippers, and after that trade, the 76ers had arguably one of the best starting lineups in basketball with Embiid, Harris, Butler, JJ Redick, and Simmons(Fultz also dealt before trade deadline).

Unfortunately, for the 76ers, it was not enough as they lost to Kawhi Leonard and the eventual world champions, the Toronto Raptors at the buzzer in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

While the 76ers had a lot of talent, they did not have enough time to develop as much chemistry as they may have liked, according to Tobias Harris.

“Obviously, we were one, couple bounces away from going into overtime versus the champs(Raptors) now,” Harris told Paul Gant on Wednesday at the 12th Annual Steve Nash Foundation Showdown in New York City. “We didn’t have enough time to really get the full chemistry as probably as we wanted to, but at the same time, it’s one of the most talented groups of players I have been a part of; we’ll see what happens. Having teammates here to talk to, Joel(Embiid), stuff like that. He’s the best big man in the NBA, so the talent level of the group was phenomenal, and we put ourselves in a position to win basketball games.”

Now, the 76ers have some decisions to make. Both Butler and Harris are free agents, and both will probably get max money. Whether that is in Philly, who knows, but Harris and Butler can make the most money with the 76ers, which can offer the most money and years. However, who knows how much that will impact their decision. On Wednesday, Harris outlined the things that will impact his decision in free agency.

“A great organization,” Harris said. “Obviously, winning is important for me; style of play is important, and just putting myself in the right opportunity to continue to improve my game and get better year in and year out. I know the work that I put in in the offseason correlates to the season, so I know what’s going to be expected of me as a player and just being in the right situation to excel at that.”

Listen below as Harris talks free agency, his short time in Philadelphia, his thoughts on possibly playing in Brooklyn, and more:

 

HOF English on Embiid: ‘I don’t know if he’s got the heart of a champion yet'(AUDIO)

The Philadelphia 76ers were very close to beating the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals. In Game 3, Joel Embiid was unstoppable. He dropped 33 points, collected 10 rebounds, and block five shots, and after three games, Philly was up 2-1 with an opportunity to go up 3-1 in Game 4 at home. However, Embiid would get sick; he was ineffective in Games 4 and 5. The Raptors would win both of those games and would win the series in seven after Kawhi Leonard’s buzzing beating, series-clinching jump shot.

Many point to Embiid’s health as one of the reasons the 76ers lost the series, and some pointed to his body language during Games 4 and 5. Embiid not only played sick, but he looked sick. It was written all over his face, and it looked as if the team was deflated because of it.

TNT’s Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal were critical of Embiid’s body language, and Hall of Famer Alex English noticed Embiid’s body language as well.

“I saw the very same thing, and that’s maybe why I’m saying and being as harsh as I am in saying I thought he looked really bad,” English recently said about Embiid on the Go4it podcast.  “I think that’s what it is; his body language, his hustle back on defense after he shot a shot, the effort that he put in a game. Those are the things that make me feel like I feel when I think of Joel Embiid.

“Before the playoffs, I said, ‘Hey man, this guy is the best thing since sliced bread,’ and after that, I’m like, ‘Well, maybe not.’ Because I don’t know if he’s got the heart of a champion yet, he’s still a young guy. It may take a while, but you’re in the NBA playoffs, you gotta give up more than what he gave.”

While he was critical of Embiid, English, like ESPN’s Mark Jackson, believes the 25-year-old center can be great, but he has some work to do.

“I think he will be one of the all-time great centers. I don’t think he will be the all-time great center,” English said. “It’s gonna be hard for anybody to top Bill Russell in my book, but I think he’s got potential. It’s parts of his game that he has to work on.

“There were times when he looked great out on the floor, and then, there were times he looked like a dog, and I don’t like that… He looked like he looked because of the way his health was at that moment. He was not feeling well; I only say that if you got the heart of a champion, you find a way to overcome. I remember Michael Jordan going into a series and just having one the greatest games of his life. Winning the championship being sick.(“Flu Game” in Game 5 of 1997 NBA Finals. Bulls would beat Jazz in 6) I know how it is when I played and I’ve been sick; I always picked it up and said, ‘Hey, I gotta focus even harder because of this.”

Embiid is special, and I think he learned a lot in these playoffs. The Sixers needed him to be at his best. In the Toronto series, the team was plus-90 with him on the floor, but they were minus-111 when he was off the floor, which shows that Embiid is a difference maker.

However, he has to get in better shape and do a better job of taking care of his body. If he can stay healthy, his name will be up there with great centers in the history of the game, but if he does not do what he can to stay healthy, we might be talking about what could have been.

Listen to the complete interview with English below. He talks Embiid at 08:46:

 

HOF Alex English likes Jokic over Embiid(Audio)

Denver Nuggets C Nikola Jokic did it all for the Denver Nuggets this season. The First-Team All-NBA star led the Nuggets in points, rebounds, and assists per game(20.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 7.3 apg). Jokic’s ability to do it all was one of the reasons Denver had the second best record in the Western Conference. Ultimately, the Nuggets would lose to the Blazers in the second round of the playoffs.

Is Jokic the best center in the game?

Well, there is a center in Philadelphia named Joel Embiid who might argue. The Second-Team All-NBA star was fourth in the NBA in scoring(27.5 ppg) and was second in the NBA in rebounding(13.6 rpg), and like Jokic, Embiid and the 76ers would lose in the second round of the playoffs.

If it were up to Hall of Famer and former Denver Nugget star Alex English, he would go with Jokic.

“Hands down I would take Jokic,” English recently told the Go4it podcast with host Paul Gant when asked to choose between Jokic and Embiid. “There’s even no question. I look at the effort he puts into the game, how he gets back on defense, his effort on the floor. What he does on the floor, I would take him without a second thought… He’s inside; he’s outside, he passes, he rebounds. He’s just a solid player for me.”

Both of these guys are big-time players. For me, it’s Embiid because of the things he does on the defensive end. Embiid(1.9 blocks per game) was a Second-Team All-Defensive center, and I believe he is a better scorer than Jokic, and statistically, Embiid is the better rebounder. However, Jokic is the better passer and is the best passing center in the game.

You can’t go wrong with either center, but in terms of pure talent, I have to go with Embiid, and if he can stay healthy, Embiid is the choice. However, if you have any doubts about Embiid’s healthy, you go with Jokic.

Listen below as English talks Embiid and Jokic at 7:55 mark:

Great courtside angle of Leonard’s amazing shot(VIDEO)

Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer-beating, series-clinching shot against the 76ers to send the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals was ridiculous, and it is was one of the greatest shots in NBA history.

Never has a seven-game series ended in this manner, which makes this shot even more special.

We have seen so many different angles of this shot, but I think we may have just found one of the best.

Watch Below:

Twitter reacts to Kawhi Leonard’s series-winning shot

What a Game 7 in Toronto, and what a fantastic shot by Kawhi Leonard. With the score tied at 90, Leonard shot a jump shot in the corner that bounced around the rim and went in at the buzzer, and the Raptors win 92-90 to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to play the Milwaukee Bucks, which starts on Wednesday.

After the game, Twitter reacted.

Here is a sampling:

Embiid to miss one week due to knee soreness; Furkan Korkmaz tears meniscus

76ers C Joel Embiid is experiencing left knee soreness and will undergo treatment involving physical therapy and load management. He had an MRI which revealed no structural damage, the team announced on Wednesday.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania,  Embiid’s knee soreness is believed to be precautionary to ensure the All-Star center is best prepared for remainder of season — and playoffs. He could return as early as next week.

As a precaution, he is listed as out and will be re-evaluated in approximately one week.

Embiid recently played in the NBA All-Star game last Sunday night in Charlotte.

Also, according to the 76ers, Furkan Korkmaz sustained an injury to his right knee during the team’s Feb. 12 matchup vs. Boston. He underwent imaging, and an MRI revealed a meniscus tear. Treatment options, including surgery, are currently being assessed and considered.

Korkmaz remains out, and an update will be provided as appropriate.

The 76ers resume their season on Thursday at home against the Miami Heat.

Joel Embiid named Eastern Conference Player of the Month

The NBA announced today that Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid was named Kia NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for January. This is the first time Embiid has received the honor and he becomes the first 76er to win the award since Hall Famer Allen Iverson in April 2005. He joins Iverson (four times) along with Hall of Famers Charles Barkley (twice), Julius Erving (three) and Moses Malone (twice) as the only players in franchise history to receive the honor since its inception in 1979-80.

Embiid led the 76ers to an 11-4 month, including six wins over teams whose records are currently .500-or-better, four of which came on the road. The month saw Embiid average 29.2 points, 13.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.0 blocks per game, while shooting .488 from the field and .804 from the free-throw line.

Embiid matched his season high in points with 42, in addition to grabbing 18 rebounds, at Phoenix on Jan. 2, good for one of his Eastern Conference-best four games with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds. A week later (Jan. 9), he would put up 34 points and 14 rebounds in a 17-point victory over Washington, marking the team’s fourth straight win.

The Cameroon native then began a stretch from Jan. 15-23 where he recorded four 30-10 games across five contests. Two of these performances came against a pair of Western Conference teams who are a combined 17 games over .500 in Houston and San Antonio. Against the Rockets (Jan. 21), he had 32 points and 14 rebounds, while the 76ers’ matchup with the Spurs (Jan. 23) saw him lead all players in points (33) and rebounds (19).

Embiid wrapped up the month with 26 points and 20 rebounds on the road in a victory over Golden State that snapped Philadelphia’s 10-game losing streak to the Warriors and provided the team with its first win in Oakland since Dec. 31, 2011. At the end of January, the recently named All-Star starter had totaled 11 double-doubles (tied for the most in the East), with five of them including 30-plus points.

Overall, Embiid holds season averages of 27.2 points, 13.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.9 blocks in 33.4 minutes per game, while shooting .485 from the field and .802 from the free-throw line. He leads the NBA with 42 double-doubles this season and has the second-most 30-point games in the league with 22.

76ers’ Embiid named Eastern Conference Player of the Week

The NBA announced today that Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played between Monday, Dec. 31 and Sunday, Jan. 7. This is the fourth time in Embiid’s three-year career he has received the honor and first since Feb. 5-11, 2018. He joins Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson as the only other players in team history to receive the honor at least four times.
Embiid led the 76ers to a 3-0 week, including two road wins over Western Conference opponents, the L.A. Clippers and Phoenix Suns. The week saw Embiid average 31.7 points, 16.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.0 blocks per game, while shooting .475 from the field, .500 from three-point range and .833 from the free-throw line.
Last Tuesday, Embiid scored 42 points and brought down 18 rebounds at Phoenix, good for one of his league-best four games with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds. He is the first Philadelphia player since Barkley in 1987-88 to post four-or-more such games in a single season. His four contests with 40-plus points are tied for the most in the Eastern Conference.
The Cameroon native opened up the New Year with a 28-point 19-rebound performance against the Clippers as he helped to 76ers to their first four-game winning streak at STAPLES Center (including games against both the Clippers and Lakers). His double-figure rebound games this season are tied for the most in the NBA, while his 28 points gave him 3,000-plus points in 130 career games, becoming the fastest Philadelphia player in franchise history to reach the mark.
Embiid wrapped up the week with his league-best 34th double-double of the season as he poured in 25 points and collected 17 rebounds en route to a Philadelphia victory over Dallas. His three double-doubles throughout the week were the most among Eastern Conference players and it was his eighth week of the season in which he has recorded multiple double-doubles.
Overall, Embiid holds season averages of 26.9 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 blocks in 33.9 minutes per game. He joins Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis as the only players in league averaging at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and three assists per game. Only three 76ers have held these averages across a season in franchise history; Barkley and Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Billy Cunningham.
Embiid is the first 76er to be named Player of the Week since Ben Simmons last season (April 2-9, 2018).

76ers GM Brand: ‘In Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, we have two of the NBA’s top 20 players’

Happy times in Philadelphia as the 76ers acquired All-Star Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton from Minnesota in exchange for Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 second-round pick.

With the move, the 76ers have put themselves in position to contend for an NBA title this year and beyond.

76ers GM Elton Brand believes adding Butler to what they have with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons gives Philadelphia a legitimate chance against the top teams in the NBA:

“We have a championship window that’s centered around the continued progression of our talented young core, as well as our ability to add elite players who elevate our program,” Brand said. “In Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, we have two of the NBA’s top 20 players. Now, we’ve added a third top-20 player in Jimmy Butler, who is one of the NBA’s very best on both ends of the floor. This move further strengthens our pursuit of a championship and gives us a formidable combination to take on the league’s top teams.”

Butler, who has been selected an NBA All-Star in each of the past four seasons, has appeared in 10 games (all starts) this season with Minnesota, averaging 21.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals (third in the NBA) in 36.1 minutes per game.

Regarding Simmons and Embiid being top 20 players in the NBA, Embiid is a top 20 player. He is an early season MVP candidate averaging 27.7 ppg and 13.9 rpg. At times, he has been unstoppable. Embiid has two 40-pont games in this young season

Concerning Simmons, he has top 20 ability, but I don’t think he is a top 20 player just yet. However, if the 2017 Rookie of the Year can develop a jump shot or something close to it, he will be a legit top 20 player as well.

No matter how you view Embiid and Simmons, it is safe to say that the 76ers have two young players that could be superstars for years to come.