This afternoon, I came across this awe-inspiring, hype-creating tweet:
When you average the projected wins from Basketball Reference, FiveThirtyEight and ESPN, this is the outlook for the 2018 NBA playoffs.
Spoiler alert: the West is ridiculously tight… pic.twitter.com/eD3zyuHaqZ
— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) March 7, 2018
The Philadelphia 76ers are currently 6th in the Eastern Conference at 35-28. Basketball-Reference and ESPN BPI both have the Sixers projected to win 47 games, while FiveThirtyEight projected a 49-win season. All three models had the Sixers finishing in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference.
After some heated in-game debates in our Slack channel, I figured it was time to review the predictions the writing staff and podcast crew made prior to the season.
Predictions after the jump:
Kyle: “I feel like if Embiid’s healthy and plays let’s call it 55 to 60+ games… you potentially have a rookie of the year on your roster. Embiid should be an All-Star level talent. Like just with Embiid last year there were points in the season where the Sixers were absolutely an above average team for small stretches, and it’s not like rattling off five or six wins in a row like we’ve seen the Phillies have done once…”
Adam: “What is your realistic expectation? You just said fourth. That’s a 49-win season and that’s not what the word realistic means.”
Kyle: “I will say they’re somewhere between a 5 or a 6 seed.”
Adam: “That’s a 42/43-win season.”
Kyle: “Yeah, they’re about a .500 club. Slightly better. Look at small stretches last year, they were an above-average team playing against some quality opponents and beating and competing with them. And it was just with Embiid for small stretches, so unlike – and I know you can say it’s a small sample size, it was five and six games here and there – this isn’t like baseball. Like, that happens in baseball– where bad teams will run off wins. That doesn’t happen like that in basketball. There’s going to be growing pains with these guys, no doubt about it, but besides just Fultz and Simmons, Embiid has enough experience, other than turnovers he wasn’t really making rookie mistakes. And it’s actually a fairly workable roster around all these guys, so I don’t think 5 or 6 is is out of the question by any stretch. Let alone, we’ll talk about this in a minute, if they add a somewhat decent or plus plus free agent over the off-season.”
Russ: It’s not much of a stretch to think that they couldn’t at least get up to like 6, because if Chicago ends up trading Jimmy Butler as part of, like, a massive package from from Boston – the future home of Jayson Tatum apparently – and Indiana trades Paul George… Paul George put Indiana in the worst possible predicament. While his his intentions were just in telling them that, like, “Hey, you guys are going to have to plan without me.” I don’t know what Indiana’s supposed to get for a one-year Paul George rental, but assuming that he goes as well, then there go your 7th and 8th seeds from last year. I don’t think like Miami hasn’t gotten any better, Detroit is a middling franchise, the Hornets, the Knicks, the Magic, and like you can easily get past those teams. And so then you’re nipping at the heels of like: the Bucks, the Hawks, if Kyle Lowry leaves the Raptors I have to assume they’re going to fall from number 3. So this really is contingent on can you get a guy like JJ Redick to come in? And if you can and you can get like a Gerald Henderson to stay on it on a team-friendly deal to provide depth and veteran leadership, there’s no reason they couldn’t get up to I would say sixth.”
Adam: “Yeah I think that’s the high-end. I think, to me, the low end is like the 36 to 38 wins, which would put you in like the 12th seed, which would be at 10-win improvement, which I think is pretty good. I think the hard question for me is the word “realistic”, because we have no idea how they’re going to be. And we’re not going to get the Summer League as a preview either. So it’s really hard to predict whether these guys are going to stay healthy. We don’t even know about Simmons or Fultz. The team could put them on minutes restrictions this season. You guys have always talked these last few weeks about the big name free agent this year. Unless you can get a guy like a JJ for like a 3 year deal or something like that. I don’t understand bringing a free agent into the unknown right now, where I would personally say let’s see this team for a year and then when we know what Simmons is actually going to do and what Fultz is actually going to do, and we can show the league how good they are, then you bring in a free agent to build alongside of that, because I don’t think they’ll make a run to the title this year, guys. They’re not going to the Eastern Conference finals, like I don’t even know what Simmons is. No one does. And I don’t think Redick is leaving L.A.”
Kyle: 43-39, 5th or 6th in the East
Russ: At least 6th in the East
Adam: 36-46, 12th in the East OR 38-44, 10th in the East
There’s plenty to unpack here. With the Sixers currently in 6th place in the East, both Kyle and I are on-track to be deadly accurate. Adam, however, needs the Sixers to go 1-18 or 3-16 to fulfill his prophecy, though it’s still conceivable that rudderless, inept franchises like the Hawks, Nets, Magic, Bulls and the Kristaps-less Knicks could finish behind that worst-case scenario.
Now to the writers.
Kevin Kinkead wrote a post on October 18th in which he did a full breakdown of the Sixers’ first 15 games and final 15 games. Kevin predicted a 41-41 finish (8th in the East), including a 5-10 start to the season, and a season-ending 10-5 run.
That leads us to the predictions from the rest of the crew:
Kyle: The Sixers have the potential to be GOOD when Embiid is healthy and if Fultz is a solid contributor. But there are also a lot of new faces, some with no NBA experience, and there are going to be some rough spots. Overall, figuring a mostly healthy Embiid and Fultz not needing surgery on his shoulder, the Sixers are pretty good and get into the playoffs with 42 wins.
Phil: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. 40-42.
Russ: At the end of the season, with the Sixers 5th in the East at 46-36, Joel stands over the broken bodies of those who stood in his way. He pours out two Shirley Temples, smashes them together, throws them back and states to the masses, “Embiid 3:16 says I just whooped your ***.” Or should that be Process 3:16… Or Hinkie 3:16?
Coggin:What is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.” 76ers 42-40.
Bob: So what if Markelle Fultz looks broken? Embiid stays relatively healthy, Simmons is ROY, and the Sixers go 43-39. They get the 7th seed and then they get wiped away by the Celtics in the first round. Basketball in Philly is back, BABY!
Chris: Joel’s minutes go up and he stays healthy. Markelle’s shot is still meh, but Ben wins Rookie of the Year. Sixers go 42-40 and get the 7th seed.
Investor Mike: Reverse psychology absolutely in play here, but the Sixers miss the 8th seed by way of a heartbreaking home loss to the Bucks on fan appreciation night. 40-42
Investor Jeff: Embiid plays 61 games, Sixers 36-25 when he plays. 7-14 when he sits. 43 wins, good for the 6th seed where they give Washington all they can handle in the first round before losing in 7.
Kyle: 42-40, make the playoffs
Russ: 46-36, 5th in the East
Bob: 43-39, 7th in the East
Chris: 42-40, 7th in the East
Mike: 40-42, 9th in the East
Jeff: 43-39, 6th in the East
For a group that started that started with a win differential spread of six games, it’s incredible to see how our once-harmonious Slack channel devolved into the polarized, debate-filled house of representatives it is on game days. In a worst-case scenario, the Sixers win only five of their 19 remaining games and miss the playoffs. In the best-case scenario, they go 11-8, which is quite doable, and challenge for a top-five seed in the Eastern Conference. Not bad for a young team that someone once trashed in favor of their neighbors in the north.
I'm ready to Trust The Process. The Knicks' process. Inducing young talent to lose year after year isn't a process, it's negligence. #76ers
— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) November 22, 2015