In many ways, this Sixers season was a resounding success. They could end the year with 30 wins while still being real lottery contenders. If you predicted before the season started that they would win ~30 with only 31 games of Embiid and 0 games of Ben Simmons, some would’ve said that was impossible. Most others would say WHY, WHAT HAPPENED? TELL ME! TELL ME RIGHT NOW!!!!
While we know a lot more right now about this team than we did back in October, there are still questions. Let’s start with the affirmative.
What we know
Joel Embiid is a Superstar
Forget the stats, the per-36 and the multiple Rookie of the Month Awards. On eye test alone, Joel Embiid is a superstar. He’s the next generation of NBA player. He shoots threes, blocks shots, moves in the lane like a hummingbird, and does it all with astonishingly little basketball experience. Joel Embiid is better at basketball than you are at everything you’ve ever done, and he’s reached that mark in half the time. He’s much more advanced than we ever thought he’d be this early, and he’s only getting started. If he can stay healthy.
Dario Saric is the Real Deal
Euros coming over to the NBA always have a learning curve. Typically, they see a jump in their second season after a year of adjusting to a longer three-point line, faster game, and bigger bodies. If Saric doesn’t make that leap next season, he’ll be fine. He’s played around 150 games in the last year and a half, and if anything he’s only sped up. There is no rookie wall. He started the season stroking from three but looking lost in most other aspects of the game. His passing didn’t show the flash we knew it could, he got smothered in the lane against bigger and more athletic players, and he turned the ball over a lot. Since Embiid went out for the year and more weight was put on Dario’s shoulders, he’s been putting up 17.1 points, 3.1 assists, and 6.9 rebounds in 30 minutes a game. His awkward, open-hand lane floaters are consistently dropping (55% within 5 feet on the season, 60.3% since Embiid went down), his passes are finding their marks (0.91 assist/turnover before ASG, 1.17 after), and he’s creating more ways to score. And all of this is happening while his three-point shot is falling apart. If that comes back next year, watch out. Continue Reading