Quote by Nba preview – Rookie & Sophomore in the Atlantic Division
Sophomore: Jahlil Okafor, Richaun Holmes, T.J. McConnell
Rookie: Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric
It is unusual to see so much talent on a team that only cared about tanking for the last few seasons. Sam Hinkie‘s Process got the 76ers the first pick overall in Ben Simmons, and possibly the franchise player they were looking for. Talent aside, Simmons fills an area of need (playmaking) but is part of an already overcrowded frontcourt. Expectations were sky high, but he suffered a Jones fracture in his foot when he rolled his ankle after stepping on a teammate’s foot and will most likely be sidelined for the season.
However, the team’s future hangs on Joel Embiid. He is finally available and will play this season after being sidelined for two years, although the team already announced he will be on a minute restriction and will not play the second games of back-to-backs. He might never be the player he was supposed to be before his injuries, but if he turned out to be 70% of what was promised, Philadelphia will have a franchise players.
There are plenty of reasons to feel good about Saric, but it is unclear how he will adjust to the Nba. The talent is there, he has good court vision and can attack on close-outs and off the dribble. However, while his shot improved throughout the season, it’s not reliable yet. Right now, he looks a lot like a less talented version of Ben Simmons but, with the #1 pick sidelined, he will have his chance to shine.
It seemed Luwawu was going to stay in Europe at Mega Leks, but he joined the team. He will not see much playing time and will probably be in the D-League while building a reliable three-point shot.
It is incredibly hard to judge Jahlil Okafor‘s season, considering the lack of talent on the team last year. He is a great offensive player who needs to be fed in the post in an era where teams are going away from that kind of sets. He took a lot of the blame for the awful season the team had, especially for his defensive issues and his inability to coexist on the court with Nerlens Noel. Still, in his rookie season he averaged 17.5 points and 7 rebounds. A player with his skill-set should be surrounded by shooters, and the 76ers shot 33.9% from beyond the arc last season. When evaluating Okafor’s season, a good comparison might be DeMarcus Cousins rookie season, who averaged 14 points and 8.6 rebounds in a team devoid of talent. Considering the kind of force Cousins is a few years later, it would be smart to wait on Okafor before giving up on him.
Philadelphia has a frontcourt logjam that will have to be solved at some point in the future, and most of it will depends on Embiid’s health. The injury Simmons suffered a few days ago left the 76ers with a normal rotation for the season, but if and when they will all be healthy, one of them will have to go, and it will probably happen in the summer.