Every avid 76ers fan remembers the lengthy experiment labeled “The Process.” “The Process” was a lengthy overhaul of the entire team, and it included multiple years of tanking to obtain top draft picks. The 76ers won just 37 games from 2013-2016, which included an abysmal 10-win 2015-2016 season. The 76ers selected six times in the top 11 picks from 2013-2018, and this massive undertaking yielded them stars like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The 76ers roster is astoundingly better now than the one that opened the 2013 season; moreover, the 76ers are currently a favorite to make the NBA Finals. With the addition of three other top-tier talents in Josh Richardson, Al Horford and Tobias Harris, the 76ers have the star power to go the distance. The destiny of the team rests in the hands of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons; that comes with both positives and negatives.
Joel Embiid is already an elite NBA talent, and he’s only 25 years old. The 7-foot center from Kansas has averaged 24.3 PPG and 11.4 RPG so far in his career. Embiid has proved to be an effective weapon in the pick-and-roll game, and he helped free up JJ Redick with forceful screens last season. Embiid also can step out and knock down a 3-point shot as well, which is a rarity for a player of his size. Embiid has terrific footwork in the post, and he creatively utilizes both ball fakes and head fakes. Despite being seven feet tall, Embiid shoots the ball incredibly well, in particular from the 3-point line and on his mid-range shot from the foul line. He is efficient with his attempts as he shoots 48.1% from the field and 31.5% beyond the arc. Embiid also averages 2 BPG, and his height, coupled with his expansive wingspan, is a major deterrent inside for both centers and attacking guards. Embiid continues to expand his prowess on both offense and defense. He continues to mature as he spends time in the league, and the 76ers hope he takes on a larger leadership role in the future. There is one drawback to the emerging mega-talent that could greatly derail future success: his health.
Embiid has been no stranger to getting bit by the injury bug. During his career, he has dealt with injuries to both his knees and back. Embiid also suffered from long term respiratory and stomach illnesses this season. These issues have kept him off the floor for many games throughout his career. Injuries forced Embiid to start his NBA career during the 2016-2017 NBA season, despite the fact the 76ers selected Embiid in the 2014 NBA Draft. He has already missed a whole season due to injury, and even during the seasons that he has played, Embiid has missed multiple games. A back injury in college most likely dropped Embiid from being selected #1 overall to #3. Embiid is one of the best current players, but the 76ers need him at 100% and can’t settle for anything less. He still has plenty of talent, but could these injuries pile up so much it derails his future glory? If healthy, Embiid is a “human wrecking ball,” but when banged up, Embiid can’t maximize any of that potential. The 76ers also heavily rely on the franchise’s other young star, Ben Simmons, who is no stranger to a plethora of positives and negatives, as well.
Ben Simmons is a unique athlete. The 6’10” stud from Melbourne, Australia, is a jack-of-all-trades. Because of his height, Simmons should probably be a PF; however, he is a cunning point guard with fantastic court vision. He does it all as he averages 16.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 7.9 APG and 1.6 SPG. He is incredibly agile and graceful with the ball for his size and continues to develop each season in the NBA. He makes it a priority to get teammates the ball, yet he is also a gifted scorer when he attacks the basket. He attacks the basket forcefully, and he exploits defenses with a multitude of passes and fakes. Simmons creates on the offensive end, but he also is effective defensively. He generates close to 2 steals and a block almost every game, and he makes his mark known on both ends of the floor. Simmons, like Embiid, missed a season due to injury, but injuries aren’t the main area of concern for Simmons. Simmons has a gaping hole in his game: his inability to shoot from long range.
There was a bet on social media establishing the over/under at 10.5 for how many 3-pointers Ben Simmons would make this season. Sadly, many fans argued betting in favor of under 10.5 3-pointers. Ben Simmons has made zero 3-point shots in his career – no, that is not a typo. To put this in perspective, Andre Drummond, Montrezl Harrell, and Boban Marjanovic all made more 3-pointers last season than Simmons has in his career. Simmons is no threat shooting from long range, and this needs to change to maximize his potential. It isn’t just 3-point shooting that is the problem; Simmons isn’t a mid-range shooter either. Refer to the picture on the left. Simmons is a great slasher when he attacks the rim, but his shooting leaves much to be desired. Defenders leave him wide open beyond the arc, and few play intense defense on the mid-range shots as well. While driving to the basket is a key element of a point guard’s game, it can’t be the only offensive element he utilizes. Simmons needs to develop a consistent shot. An effective jump-shot will help other players get open, and it will greatly boost Simmon’s all-around game. Without a good jump-shot, Simmons is wasting his ability, and the 76ers simply are depleting his potential.
The 76ers have fantastic pieces on their roster, but unless they get the most out of those players, they run the risk of missing a potential championship run. The 76ers’ roster is exciting, young and talented; they can’t afford to wait. Ultimately, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will dictate the future of the team. The 76ers need to squeeze every drop of talent out of them and help them elevate their play to new heights. The 76ers need to keep Embiid healthy and protected, while also ensuring Simmons develops a decent, respectable jump-shot. If the 76ers fail in these two areas, it could mean many more years of missed opportunities. While fans endured the multiple losing seasons that “The Process” required, they won’t idly sit back if the organization does not capitalize relatively soon. The future of the 76ers looks promising, but it could be very bleak if one of these two stars falls short of their potential.