Sixers Can’t Escape Expectations this Season
There will be 23 nationally televised games between ESPN, TNT, and NBATV. Season ticket packages sold at a record rate.
There’s no escaping it. For the first time in a handful of years (since the 2012-13 season to be exact) – and for the first time since Brett Brown took over as head coach – there are actual expectations for the Sixers heading into a season.
For the past four years, the overriding organizational goal – outside of individual player development – was maximizing lottery odds. With key pieces to the puzzle now in place, that is no longer the case. No more pulling positives out of losses or fortifying for the future. For the Sixers, the future that the ‘process’ promised has arrived, and expectations have arrived with it.
Playoffs are an obvious objective for the team heading into the season, and an appearance in the NBA’s second season for the young Sixers squad would be welcomed as an enormous improvement over the past several seasons. A playoff appearance is not out of the picture either. When you consider the influx of talent joining the Sixers’ roster for the upcoming campaign – Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson – as well as the continued development of the returning roster players, and the current [weakened] state of the Eastern Conference, there is ample potential for the team to make a playoff push.
However, though they are in reach – and a good goal – playoffs should not be the main measuring stick for the 2017-18 Sixers season. Rather, the development of the individual players, as well as their cohesion as a unit, should be the main concern for all of those invested in the long-term success of the squad (and health of course).
That the young players who will be charged with carrying the franchise forward show that they can play – and play together – at a high level, is more important than a playoff appearance this year. Those will come. If this current Sixers roster does live up to its potential on paper, a playoff spot may well come by default, it just doesn’t need to be the main measure of success.
If Joel Embiid remains healthy (find some wood to knock on) and continues to develop his dominance, and Ben and Markelle prove worthy of their lofty draft status, and the young core is able to begin to bond and gel on-court, I will see the season as a success, even without a playoff appearance.
Regardless of the measuring stick used though – a cohesive campaign, 40 wins, a playoff appearance - expectations again exist for the Sixers; something the organization is going to have to get re-acclimated to.
Follow Michael Kaskey-Blomain on Twitter @therealmikekb