While many Sixers fans were hoping the Sixers would have landed a big star this offseason, they ended up adding a couple of role players around their core group that won 52 games last season and won a playoff round against the Miami Heat.

The new core is now set for the Sixers as they bolstered their rotation heading into a season where outside expectations have certainly risen.

This year’s goal for the Sixers is simple - an NBA Finals appearance is not out of the question.

Here are five storylines to watch as the Sixers start Training Camp.

Playing as the Favorite

The Sixers will not surprise teams this season, they are one of the favorites in the NBA Eastern Conference. The days of being a definite lottery team are behind them, its time for them to take another step forward as one of the hunted teams this year.

After exceeding expectations a season ago, this years edition of the Sixers will not sneak up on teams. The continued development of guys like Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons are obvious, but its the role players like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and how some of the new faces will fit in that will shape this year's team - along with the emergence of Markelle Fultz.

If guys like Covington and Saric are ready to take another step forward, the Sixers can contend for the Eastern Conference crown, if they still have limitations, they still might not be ready to advance further then Round 2 in the playoffs.

But the biggest key will be Fultz.

What kind of player will he be?  If he is the guy the Sixers thought they were were drafting No. 1 overall, the Sixers can make it to the NBA Finals this season.

Embiid and Simmon’s Next Step

The duo help lead the Sixers to the second round of the playoffs, but the Celtics frustrated both players, and gave them things to work on this offseason.

For Embiid, a major commitment to changing his body, and getting into better shape was the theme of this offseason. He was still able to score 22.9 points per game, 11.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, but looks like he showed up in much better shape to Sixers camp.

For Simmons, a improved mid-range game.  The Celtics challenged him in the playoffs, and many are hoping to see how much further away from the basket Simmons can generate offense from.

If these two guys can improve in these areas, the Sixers should have two players who could be considered some of the NBA’s best in 2018-19.

Time Is Now For Markelle Fultz

No Sixers will be more scrutinized this season than Fultz

While so many Sixers fans wanted to see the team land a big-time star this offseason, they are essentially adding the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Like many past Sixers draft picks, Fultz didn't contribute much his rookie season, dealing with a mysterious shoulder injury that caused issues with his jump-shot.

For the Sixers to advance in the postseason, they will need a major contribution from Fultz, and he just might be the missing piece that the Sixers need to take next step.

Fultz looks to have had a very committed offseason, working on his jump-shot with his trainer, Drew Hanlen. Will that turn into Fultz being a major difference-maker in 2018-19, thus helping the Sixers take that next step, and potentially getting them past the Celtics in the East.

Progress for Dario 

The Sixers didn't make that big splash that many anticipated this offseason, but one guy who may be ready to take a big jump is Dario Saric.

Saric's game came a  long way last season, being able to impact the offensive game in multiple ways/  He added a three-point shot, hitting on 39% of his three's, upping his scoring average from 12.8 to 14. 6 per game.

The versatile big-man averaged 14.6 points (on 45.3 percent shooting, 39.3 percent from three), 2.6 assists and 6.7 rebounds last season.

That’s why seeing even more progress this season for Saric could help the Sixers make a deep playoff run this season.

New Faces

 

The Sixes will be entering a couple of new faces into their rotation with Fultz, veterans Mike Muscala, and Wilson Chandler, along with youngsters Zhaire Smith (when healthy), Jonah Bolden and Furkan Korkmaz.

Fultz is the key to that group, but the Sixers added much more athleticism on the perimeter, and area the Celtics took advantage of the in their playoff series.  The Celtics have a lot of athletic wing players, an area the Sixers lacked last season, adding Chandler, Smith and Fultz should help in that area.