Sixers Begin Year 29th in ESPN’s NBA Power Rankings
The Philadelphia 76ers open the 2016-17 season tonight in a very familiar place among national pundits, sitting 29th in ESPN reporter Marc Stein’s NBA power rankings.
Ben Simmons is out indefinitely. Ditto for Nerlens Noel. So just hear us out: Don't focus on the fact Joel Embiid logged only 85 minutes in six preseason games. Just let long-suffering Sixers fans savor the delicious per-36-minute numbers Embiid amassed in that small sample size: 26.3 points, 14.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes in his first real burst of NBA basketball. Russell Westbrook is the star attraction Wednesday night when OKC visits Philly. But Embiid may not be far off.
This season is about the health of rookie Joel Embiid. After sitting out two seasons, Embiid averaged 11.4 points, 6.0 boards, 0.9 blocks and 2.6 turnovers in just 14.7 minutes per game, showing promise that he can grow into the elite player people thought he might be when he was drafted No. 3 overall in 2014. However, one player won’t be enough to life the Sixers into the playoff conversation, but should help them improve on their 10-72 mark from last year. Coach Brett Brown wants to play Embiid and Okafor together late in games, something to watch early with Nerlens Noel out for the first few weeks of the season.
This offseason was spent bolstering the Sixers’ assets finally becoming players and now they must develop this team.
In the draft, the Sixers picked up Ben Simmons, they added 2014 draft pick Dario Saric. To add more leadership they added veteran guards Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez.
The Sixers aren’t projected to be dead last in their division. The Brooklyn Nets are a spot lower at No. 30. The two Atlantic division foes are the bottom two teams in the current rankings.